A geothermal energy project near Grande Prairie, Alta., has hit a significant milestone that could shape the future of energy in the province.
“This is super exciting for us. This is confirmation on the thesis that we can produce geothermal energy in this province,” said Terrapin Geothermics VP of Operations Marc Colombina.
The Alberta No. 1 geothermal energy project in the Municipal District of Greenview is managed by Edmonton-based Terrapin Geothermics to produce heat and energy.
The project received a $25.4-million boost in 2019 from the federal government’s Emerging Renewable Power Program (ERPP), which also provided more than $15 million to a solar farm in southern Alberta.
Started in 2018, the project recently hit a major mark after finding temperatures needed to produce energy from natural heat in the ground.
“We had reading of 118 degrees C which is well above the 100 degrees needed to economically produce power,” Colombina said.
The Alberta No. 1 project expects to be providing clean heat and power to Alberta’s energy mix by 2024. Colombina said this project will be able to power 2,500 homes.
“It’s clean and renewable, there’s no emissions from these low temperature systems, its has the smallest land foot print of any renewable energy,” Colombina said.
He added it’s the beginning of more to come in Alberta.
The new Blatchford community in Edmonton is already using geothermal energy and has a goal of being carbon-neutral. It began using this technology at the end of 2019 and is already powering homes.
Blatchford’s Energy Centre One is part of a centralized district energy sharing system using geothermal, solar and other sustainable energy sources to provide energy for heating, cooling and hot water to homes and buildings.
“We are now approaching about 20 customers to the system. As the development grows we expect to (see) more customers connected to this district energy system using the heat from the ground from the geoexchange field,” said Blatchford Director of Renewable Energy Systems Christian Felske.
Projects like the Blatchford Renewable Energy Systems and Alberta No. 1 are expected to create hundreds of jobs in Alberta.
“The benefit to it is not just that it’s creating more jobs, it’s the type of jobs that it’s creating. It’s specifically the jobs we’ve been losing as a result of low oil prices,” said Business Council of Alberta chief economist Mike Holden.
The province has echoed this excitement, saying it sets the stage for a new and innovative industry, putting Alberta as a global leader in geothermal energy.
The Alberta Number One project expects to be selling power by 2024.