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Transforming aging gas field into geothermal project in BC, Canada

Work camp at Fort Nelson, British Columbia/ Canada (source: flickr/ mfoubister, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 10 Feb 2020

Geothermal energy could help transform the field of a depleting natural gas into a hub providing geothermal power and heat to the local community of Fort Nelson in the province of British Columbia, Canada.

An article published locally in British Columbia, Canada looks into plans for transforming depleting natural gas field in Fort Nelson into a development hub for geothermal energy.

We previously reported on the project, which recently secured a crucial permit for geothermal rights preparing for a drilling campaign that could kick off later this year.

In Fort Nelson, a natural gas field that is nearing depletion could provide the basis for the development of this planned geothermal project that could provide both power and heat to this community in Northeastern British Columbia.

Researchers for GeoScience BC, did a study and modelled how hot water could flow from the aquifer at the reservoir of Clark Lake. The pre-feasibility study – here the link to the document (pdf) – was released in August 2019.

The study highlights the opportunities for the community with the planned geothermal development.

As the geothermal plant is a source of low-carbon heat and electricity, it may be marketed to attract new industry to the area. Potential new customers are speculated upon. For electricity, there may be an opportunity to attract cryptocurrency mining operations to the area, although it is not clear whether cryptocurrency miners can be considered long term customers. Competing with BC Hydro industrial rates may pose a challenge, however, as they are much lower than the BC Hydro SOP purchase price, so there could be diminishing returns to higher plant capacities. Greenhouses are identified as a potential customer for the waste heat from the plant, with an estimate on their consumption from the Government of Manitoba providing a revenue estimate of $15,600/year from a 1000 m2 greenhouse. Other potential heat recipients are identified, but at this time, it is purely speculative as to their feasibility.

With the report a 15 MW project is described as feasible. The region has higher geothermal potential than others, according to Steve Grasby, a research scientist with the Geological Survey of Canada.

The Fort Nelson project is one of now a few geothermal projects being developed in Canada. The geothermal project by DEEP Earth Energy Production in Saskatchewan is the furthest advanced with drilling of a second well ongoing or already completed. Another project in collaboration with a First Nation by Borealis GeoPower is ongoing south of Valemount in British Columbia.

Another project was announced last week, that would see development of a project in the Yukon territory.

Source: The Narwhal