Those of you who frequent this blog understand my interest with geothermal power and my frustration that we don’t take it seriously in Canada, despite the massive resource this country offers. We’re the only major country on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” with no commercial geothermal power plants, so we haven’t even tapped the low-hanging fruit, let alone explored the opportunity presented by enhanced geothermal technologies.
But it appears the federal government — or its scientists, at least — are beginning to take notice. I recently had an e-mail exchange with Stephen Grasby, who is a geologist with the Geological Survey of Canada (part of Natural Resources Canada). I had asked Grasby about a rather primitive map of Canada’s geothermal resources that he had prepared, and whether there were more details behind it. He assured me it was “just a first order of approximation” and that the department is “currently working on a series of maps that provide contoured temperatures at different depths.”
Grasby conceded there’s “very little data” for temperatures deeper than 4 kilometres anywhere in the country. “So the best we can do is extrapolate temperature gradients,” he said, adding that the survey also has enhanced geothermal (EGS) on its radar. “The EGS is an exciting opportunity but we know little about the potential in Canada as of yet. Currently we are assessing what data and knowledge on geothermal potential we have as the previous Geothermal Energy Program was ended in 1985 and there is some consideration being given to restarting some activities on that front.”
It’s a small, but positive step. Now, more than ever, is the time to start pressuring the federal government to move faster and more decisively in this direction. The opportunity for renewable baseload power generation in this country is too significant to ignore.