Canada, with its vast territory and expertise in deep drilling, is still relativelysilent on the potential for geothermal power. Meanwhile, the U.K. is even leaping ahead of us. A tourist attracton in Cornwall, England, called The Eden Project has partnered up with a company called EGS Energy that will see a 3 megawatt enhanced geothermal plant built, with plans for further expansion throughout the area. Two four kilometre deep boreholes will be drilled into hot granite rock. Water will be brought in and pumped into one borehole and will travel through the hot rock to a second borehole, picking up heat along the way. The water will then be pumped back at around 150 degrees C. A secondary fluid, with a lower boiling point than water, extracts the heat from the hot water and is turned into vapour to power a binary turbine. The water, now cooled, is then reinjected back into the first well to reheat and continue the cycle, which is a closed loop.
The U.K. plant is expected to be operational by 2012. Needless to say, this approach could easily be done throughout Alberta, particularly in the oil sands, even in some locations in Ontario and other provinces. If the U.K. can do it, hell, certainly there are parts of Canada that can. In late May the Obama administration committed $140 million to geothermal demonstration projects, $80 million for enhanced geothermal R&D, and $100 million for new drilling techniques and innovation.
And Canada? The big goose egg.