First municipal geothermal project approved in Nova Scotia

Old postcard of Springhill, Nova Scotia with old coal mines in the background (source: NS Museum, History Collection)
Alexander Richter Alexander Richter 23 Jan 2014

The municipality of Springhill in Nova Scotia, Canada has received a lease from the Province's Natural Resources Minister, allowing it to run its own geothermal project.

According to the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA), the Springhill commercial heating project in Nova Scotia, Canada has been excellent example of a collaborative effort between private industry and municipal government. The project, funded in part by the Town of Springhill in NS, made use of deep abandoned coal mines that provided warm water at approximately 18°C.

Apart from providing heating and cooling to the Ropak Can Am Ltd. Plastics manufacturing facility, a local packaging company used hot water for drying containers for the dairy, agriculture, forestry, and fishing industries. A nearby local hockey rink also used the geothermal energy to cool ice, reducing their power bills by half and GHG emissions by 40%. Over a dozen local businesses use geothermal energy from the mine. The project continues to be an overwhelming success yielding energy savings of $45,000 per year, equivalent to roughly 600 MWhth per year or a 60% reduction of their heating bills.”

The community has been one of few places in Canada that has utilized geothermal energy. In this case utilizing old coal mines below the municipality used for heating purposes.

Now the province’s Natural Resources Minister Zach Churchill signed a special lease to allow the municipality to run its own geothermal project.

“This is about supporting jobs and the community, while helping Springhill businesses and property owners benefit from this efficient, clean energy source,” said Churchill in a media release.

According to the local news piece, “historic underground coalmine workings in Springhill contain about 49 billion litres of water.

The water is heated by geothermal energy from the Earth. The mines’ depths make underground water as much as 11 C higher than normal groundwater temperatures. The water can be used to heat buildings, then returned underground to be reheated by natural processes.

“With this special lease, we can exploit a vast renewable and sustainable green energy source for the Town of Springhill and the Municipality of the County of Cumberland,” said Mayor Maxwell Snow. “This program will help to develop Springhill’s geothermal resource and possibly lead to creating a utility that will help all of Nova Scotia, the economy and the environment.”

Source: The Vanguard, CanGEA Canadian Geothermal Sector Profile (Canmet ENERGY)