There is high potential to generate power and heat in BC using geothermal sources, but as yet there is no geothermal power generation in the province. Geothermal energy uses the heat stored in rocks and groundwater below the surface and is a sustainable, zero-emission and “always on” form of renewable energy. In the United States, geothermal power stations produce 3.7 gigawatts of power, enough to power 3.7 million homes (read more). The Clarke Lake Field is a depleted natural gas field that has been identified as a prospective site for a geothermal power plant.
Over one hundred gas wells have been drilled in the Clarke Lake Field, providing valuable data about conditions below the surface. Globally, development of low-temperature sedimentary basin resources such as those found at Clarke Lake Field has been limited.
Geoscience BC projects have created detailed models of the Clarke Lake Field to better understand the rock layers, structures as well as the characteristics of the groundwater. This pre-feasibility study provides high-level estimates of various project components, such as power plant design requirements, site development considerations, and assumptions on potential power customers then makes economic predictions on the viability of generating power and heat generation from at the Clarke Lake Field.
This project sits under Geoscience BC’s Enabling Clean Energy strategic objective and the goal ‘Continue geothermal resource mapping and research focussing on economically viable projects and sites with high geothermal energy potential’.
The scope of the study included:
- Review of background research studies conducted previously by Geoscience BC:
- Identification of potential power plant technology vendors and determining technical parameters and servicing requirements.
- Desktop concept design of a potential power plant and servicing infrastructure, and estimate the costs involved.
- Identification of potential customers that already exist for both electricity and heat by surveying the Clarke Lake/Fort Nelson area and analyzing the electrical and heating loads present for revenue estimations. Provision of cost estimate for connection.
- Review and summary of the technical, legal and sales framework for potential power purchase agreements.
- Identification of potential new customers that could exist in the future that may be compatible with the output of the geothermal project.
- An outline of environmental permitting and approvals considerations.
Cost and payback estimates in the study are Class D (±50%).
This project has the potential to be the first repurposed gas field to generate geothermal energy and heat in Canada. This would bring economic development and diversification to the region and would result in lower greenhouse gas emissions.
The innovation and technology required at the plant would develop technical expertise and subject matter experts that are in high demand around the world as demand for a ‘clean’ economy continues to grow.
Any decision to move forward with a geothermal project must be based on sound scientific, social, and economic research. This assessment carried out by this project will help land managers, governments and communities make an informed decision about any future development.
The Clarke Lake Field is located approximately 14 kilometres southeast of Fort Nelson, in northeastern British Columbia. It is in the Horn River Basin, BC’s second largest natural gas basin, that stretches from south of Fort Nelson north to the BC/Yukon border.
What was found?
The project report is an engineering pre-feasibility study that assesses a potential 15 MW geothermal project at two potential sites in the Clarke Lake Field from a site servicing and development perspective.
The study identifies Organic Rankine Cycle technology, for power generation, as the most appropriate for the two potential sites. It estimates that development costs would total between $139 million and $285 million, with a payback period of between 12 and 24 years based on projected revenue figures. Detail is provided on potential site design, permitting requirements, environmental considerations, power and heat customers and revenues.