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Geothermal project urges provincial financial support in BC, Canada

Geothermal project urges provincial financial support in BC, Canada Work camp at Fort Nelson, British Columbia/ Canada (source: flickr/ mfoubister, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 30 Nov 2020

The planned Clarke Lake geothermal project in Fort Nelson, British Columbia requires additional financial support from the provincial government to keep up to C$40 million in funding secured so far.

Having secured CAD 40 million (around USD 30.3 million) in grant funding the local municipality of Fort Nelson and Saulteau First nations are in dire need of a commitment by the province of British Columbia.

If the CAD 6.3 million funding from the BC government does not come through by the end of December 2020, the grant donors of the other funding could simply walk away.

For the project, which plans to develop a geothermal power plant for up to CAD 100 million, this could be a life or death decision.

Fort Nelson First Nation Chief Sharleen Gale:  “We got $40 million from a grant funder and we have our obligations to get to a certain stage. And if we don’t have the $6.3 million by December 31, then we’re going to have to say ‘goodbye’ to the project and that money will be invested into another project in Canada.”  So far the province has given funding of $430,000 to the project.

The project is rather interesting as it would tap a depleted natural gas reservoir, deriving hot water from it to produce up to 7 MW of electricity, with potential of further expansion to 15 MW. With over 140 gas wells that have been drilled in the gas reservoir there is a huge amount of data and the resources is rather well know.

The aquifer is at a depth of 2,00-02,500 meters with a water temperature of around 120 degrees Celsius. For that a binary cycle plant would be the only option. Additional use for a wood pellet plant and greenhouses could be developed.

There has been very limited support of geothermal in the province, with a clear preference to a rather controversial hydropower project by the provincial utility BC Hydro. So the lack of support for the Fort Nelson project is maybe not all too surprising.

If the project secures the necessary funding drilling of a production well could start in 2021 for a final proof-of-concept test. Construction could then start as early as 2022.

The news pieces reporting on it, point also to an interesting fact. The utility BC Hydro has closed all acquisition programs for independent power producers, yet the local first nation has independent power rights that could circumvent that.

Source: BIV, Canada.com