Geoscience BC Releases Comprehensive Guide for BC Communities on Development of Direct-Use Geothermal
"Direct-use geothermal energy resources are significantly underutilized in BC," said Carlos Salas, Vice President, Energy, at Geoscience BC. "From this study we found there was a considerable lack of understanding at the community level about the range of direct use geothermal applications and the necessary steps required to develop local geothermal resources. The Direct-Use Geothermal Roadmap provides useful information needed by communities to assist them in evaluating, planning and pursuing geothermal projects."
The Direct-Use Geothermal Roadmap contains practical guidelines for communities on geothermal surface exploration, land acquisition and permitting, drilling and testing wells required for the design and development of direct-use geothermal resources in BC.
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To support the release of the Roadmap, Geoscience BC is planning a series of community workshops facilitated by lead researcher Dr. Catherine Hickson, Principal of Tuya Terra Geo Corp. The first of these workshops will be a presentation to the BC Union of Municipalities in September. This presentation will be followed by regional workshops which will provide information and tools on how communities move forward with direct-use geothermal projects, addressing technical and non-technical aspects of development.
Direct-use geothermal energy uses thermal waters with temperatures generally less than 80 degrees C. Traditional uses of these warm waters have been for space heating and spa applications. Direct-use water temperatures and flow rates are considered too low to economically generate electricity. Potential direct-use geothermal energy applications include commercial, industrial and residential space heating, aquaculture, greenhouses, crop drying, snow-melting and recreational applications. Although BC has significant potential, direct-use geothermal is currently only used for recreational and therapeutic purposes such as hot springs.
A total of 63 communities were identified as being located close to the 18 regions deemed favourable for direct-use geothermal. This list of localities was subsequently narrowed down to 11 regions and communities which researchers deemed to have the best potential for direct-use geothermal development in BC. Additional development information was compiled for these regions and communities. These areas were ranked based on favourability for direct use from various input metrics such as: proximity to infrastructure, the regulatory environment, environmental impact, and community receptiveness, among other factors. Sites with the highest weighted ranking included: Clarke Lake south of Fort Nelson, Sloquet Creek, 93 km northwest of Whistler, Lakelse Lake between Terrace and Kitimat, Canoe Creek -- Valemount in the Cariboo, Jedney Creek north of Fort St. John, Meager Creek/Pebble Creek north of Whistler, Okanagan, Kootenay area, Lower Arrow Lake near Castlegar, Mt. Cayley, 45 km north of Squamish, and Mt. Garibaldi, 80 km north of Vancouver near Squamish.
"The real value of this study was the community outreach which took place," stated Dr. Catherine Hickson. "Through this study, we were able to identify critical knowledge gaps holding communities back from developing their geothermal resources. In many cases, direct-use geothermal had not even been considered in the community planning process. This Direct-Use Geothermal Roadmap will help fill those knowledge gaps and play an integral role in helping BC communities evaluate and pursue viable geothermal projects with the most promising economic potential."
For more information on Geoscience BC's geothermal projects, please visit our Direct-Use Geothermal Resources Project page.
About Geoscience BC
Geoscience BC is an independent, non-profit organization that generates earth science information in partnership with First Nations, local communities, governments, academia and the resource sector. This vital information is made available to the public to encourage investment in sustainable resource projects and support informed resource management decisions for the benefit of all British Columbians. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the province of British Columbia.
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