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Study shows feasibility of repurposing natural gas wells for geothermal power & heat

Work camp at Fort Nelson, British Columbia/ Canada (source: flickr/ mfoubister, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 23 Sep 2019

A newly released pre-feasibility study in British Columbia, Canada, outlines the feasibility of repurposing new natural gas wells for geothermal power and heat production at Clarke Lake, BC.

In a new pre-feasibility study published by Geoscience BC in British Columbia/ Canada, evaluates the potential to repurpose the Clarke Lake Field natural gas field to host a pilot plant to generate geothermal energy and heat.

Called Clarke Lake Geothermal Pre-Feasibility Study, the report assesses two potential sites close to the Clarke Lake Gas Field south of Fort Nelson. It outlines the potential costs and revenues as well as technology recommendations and permitting requirements as a first step to understanding economic viability.

Fort Nelson Chief Sharleen Gale said: “Fort Nelson First Nation is grateful for the studies by Geoscience BC that have highlighted geothermal resource opportunities immediately adjacent to our home community and located in our territory where our people have lived for thousands of years.

“There aren’t many places in the world where you can access geothermal energy – it could revolutionize the north! We are grateful for this unique opportunity to pursue clean, renewable energy that can provide us with food security, energy independence and diverse economic opportunities in our territory…the possibilities are endless!!!”

“This study puts initial numbers on the idea of using abandoned oil and gas fields, to generate geothermal energy and heat in northeastern British Columbia,” said Geoscience BC Executive Vice President & Chief Scientific Officer Carlos Salas. “The electricity used in the area is mostly gas-generated, or imported from Alberta, so as well as increasing local electricity generation, there is real potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to bring new and diversified economic opportunities to the area.”

The report concludes that there is the potential for a combined geothermal power and heat plant, and that the payback period on development costs would be between 12 and 24 years. It identifies potential customers for power and uses for heat including public building heating and industrial customers. The report also identifies future opportunities that a geothermal plant could help to generate facilitate, including greenhouses that use heat from the plant and the potential to attract cryptocurrency mining operations.

The cost and payback estimates in the pre-feasibility study are accurate to within 50 per cent. The report proposes next steps for anyone looking to develop sites in the area, including more detailed engineering design and analysis, and gauging energy and heat customer interest.

Accessing Information

Clarke Lake Geothermal Pre-Feasibility Study uses details from three former studies conducted in the area by Geoscience BC. Links to each of these and to the full report can be found below:

Source: Company release by email