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How a planned oil pipeline could be an opportunity for local clean energy, incl. geothermal

Oil pipeline (source: flickr/ Jason Woodhead, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 21 Aug 2019

With expected tax generation from a planned oil pipeline in Canada, the government is planning an investment program that would be targeting Canada's clean energy transition. How will have to be seen, but it could provide an opportunity for geothermal energy in Canada.

A controversial oil pipeline project in Canada has received an interesting twist. With a declared climate emergency, the Canadian government approved the Trans Mountain pipeline project, but with the caveat that “every dollar earned from corporate tax revenues, and the profits from the pipeline sale, will be reinvested in Canada’s clean-energy transition”.

The expected annual tax revenue of CAD 500 million, around US$ 380m, would be invested into clean energy technologies for the Canadian energy market, such as geothermal electricity and heat projects, so the opinion piece published in the Edmonton Journal.

Where this investment would go is naturally up for debate. But as the opinion piece highlights it could flow into a sector that has close ties into the existing work force capabilities, know-how and technology, as well as work force, namely geothermal energy.

With those funds a state-owned insurance scheme could be set up to compensate developers for under-producing wells. Research is another topic mentioned. With the University of Alberta, the only university in Canada with a research group solely focused on geothermal energy, a lot could be achieved with funding and the tied in industry partners.

There is also another element and that is that the pipeline actually requires electricity. A Valemount, BC based geothermal project by Borealis GeoPower could be one of those electricity options for the nearby pipeline. There are examples from south of the border in the U.S, where about 20% of the electricity demand for a pipeline operation are derived from renewable energy sources.

An interesting opinion piece shared by Christal Loewen, policy manager at the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA).

Source: Edmonton Journal via Borealis GeoPower

Disclaimer: the author is a board member at large at CanGEA.