For a country with a lot of geography, Canada has been slow to develop its geothermal energy potential. But a small village tucked between the Rocky and Monashee mountain ranges, 450 kilometres northeast of Vancouver, has plans to change that, DeSmog Canada reports.
The 1,000 people who call Valemount, B.C. home have been looking for nearly a decade for an economic anchor to replace the lumber mill that closed there in 2007. Now they may have found one, in developing what could be Canada’s first geothermal generating station on the former mill site, tapping into the same source as the nearby Canoe Reach Hot Springs.
Local citizens have partnered with Borealis Geopower to develop a 15-megawatt thermal generating station to provide continuous baseload power to the village of Valemount and the provincial grid. Borealis has obtained permits to develop the area’s geothermal potential and has at least one prospective secondary heat customer in a local brewery, and is seeking investors to begin a drilling program.
Valemount faces competition in its bid to generate the country’s first commercial geothermal electricity, however. Another company, Deep Earth Energy Corporation, is also seeking financing for a proposed five-megawatt pilot plant in Saskatchewan.
But the B.C. village boasts a competitive advantage, its geothermal advocates claim. “The resource opportunity is pretty incredible all the way down the Rocky Mountain trench,” Borealis Chief Geologist Craig Dunn told DeSmog Canada, “including opportunities like Radium and Fairmont, which are all a part of the system.”
Beyond the power, Dunn said, the continuous supply of ‘waste’ heat available “creates an opportunity for organizations like greenhouses, fish farming, brewery, silviculture, or timber industry applications in close proximity.”