County looks into geothermal possibilities

·2 min read

The County of Grande Prairie is looking into the next steps for a geothermal pilot in either Clairmont Heights or between Beaverlodge and Wembley.

The county has now seen a couple of studies on the potential for a geothermal resource and is looking at potential areas where they may be able to create a plant to create power generation, said Nick Lapp, director of planning and development services at the County of Grande Prairie.

“The next phase of the study would be to narrow down a potential site location, so it could be in that Clairmont Heights area or it could be in between Grande Prairie and Beaverlodge,” said Lapp.

The move to geothermal is a green way of generating electricity for the region.

“The real benefit from geothermal energy is the heat and the ability to use that heat energy, and it's a green technology,” said Lapp.

The county is looking at the project as a way to create a potential utility for the area, creating a revenue source that will benefit economic development and diversification, said Lapp.

He said that other opportunities would be available from the technology, including district heating, heating for agricultural purposes, greenhouses, and other industrial applications.

The next steps would include drilling wells to get a better look at flow rates, bottom hole temperatures, and the geology of the sites.

County council has directed Lapp to get a proposal together and to proceed with applying to different levels of government for funding to proceed in the study.

“The goal for the county would be to utilize federal and provincial grant funding to lower the risk associated with the cost to those phases of study and then ultimately the capital to build the project,” said Lapp.

Lapp said they might be able to use existing wells from previous studies, such as those done by the University of Alberta, but the focus is on ensuring the next phase of the study can begin.

In a study presented to the committee of the whole on July 29, the county will be looking for a geothermal fluid (naturally occurring groundwaters and brines) of at least 120 C at 60 litres per second for power production, although lower temperatures could be used for district heating.

The study also says that “in settings where the temperature falls below 120 — as long as the other requirements are met -- the resource might be considered and eventually exploited for its heating (thermal) potential.”

Moving into the future, “if this next phase of the study is successful, then we will look at further applications for capital and partnership opportunities with private industry as well,” said Lapp.

Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News

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