Even the U.K. is doing enhanced geo: Where’s Canada?

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.

6 thoughts on “Even the U.K. is doing enhanced geo: Where’s Canada?”

  1. “The big goose egg.” <— had to laugh at that one. Nice. Does Canada not even have a ENHgeothermal starting up yet?

  2. I wonder if this could be used to extract oil from oil sands? Instead of using the steam to drive a generator, use it directly to heat the tar and then pump out the liquid oil. This could drastically reduce the carbon footprint of the oilsands.

  3. I hear you. I have always believed in geo exchange and have high hopes for EGS. I know you know this is going to make a big difference because it has high baseload potential. It is constant and hopefully reliable in low probability earthquake areas. Google believes in this technology and they dont just buy into anything under the sun. I hope the provincial regulators and policy makers here in Canada take notice. Your pumped storage article and collaboration with between Ontario and Quebec article for Torstar was very good.

  4. But what are the economics? What’s the cost per kwh produced? Probably rediculously exorbitant! IF these projects made economic sense they would quickly spring up here in Canada too! Trouble is, most of these projects are just ecowelfare!

  5. People have also mentioned the risk of causing earthquakes: something existing geothermal sites in California apparently already do.

  6. Well, there are hundreds of small earthquakes is California every year. They do happen also in areas
    where the geothermal sites are so it is difficult to determine whether these sites promote quakes or
    not. Those who oppose geothermal energy due (financial) reasons of their own would like public
    to believe in such connection.

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