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Geothermal heating facility on its way to Regina alongside new aquatic centre

Click to play video: 'Geothermal heating facility on its way to Regina alongside new aquatic centre'
Geothermal heating facility on its way to Regina alongside new aquatic centre
A $28 million geothermal facility will be used by the City of Regina to heat the new aquatic centre coming to the Queen City. – Mar 12, 2023

In the 1970s, researchers from the University of Regina discovered the Queen City was sitting on top of a large aquifer.

Fast forward to the present day and the city is hopeful they can harness that aquifer and use it to heat their recently approved aquatic centre.

On March 8, 2023, the city unanimously voted to approve a new $160 million aquatic centre to be built at the current Lawson Pool site.

Also approved was a $28.5 million geothermal facility that would be used to heat the new pool, as the two kilometre deep aquifer acts as a perfect energy source for the project.

“We use traditional oil drilling equipment to drill a hole into the aquifer and we can pump that hot water to the surface and run it through a heat exchanger and we would have a second well drilled to dispose of that water back into the aquifer,” said geologist Brian Brunskill, who presented a geothermal feasibility report to city council.

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Brunskill said the geothermal energy cost savings come from not having to buy natural gas and pay the associated carbon tax.

“In the short term, it costs more upfront,” Brunskill explained. “But long term with (lower) operating costs and reduced fuel costs… there is a case for a long-term investment.”

The use of the geothermal system is meant to help get the facility to net-zero carbon emissions.

It’s something city councilors hope will work to their advantage as they try to secure $128 million in federal funding for the pool and geothermal facility.

Regina mayor Sandra Masters said the federal government is generally more attracted to projects with green energy sources and hopes the geothermal technology will help become a more common power source in the city.

“Potentially, even beyond the pool we know, this geothermal system exists under the entire city, so we may have other applications available for it,” Masters said.

Brunskill said back in the 1970s, U of R researchers dug the initial well to the aquifer, but due to administrative changes, a second well was never drilled to complete the geothermal loop.

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“Fortunately, we learned much of what we needed to know. At least at a basic level on the reliability of the resource, the location, the quality of the resource. We learned what we needed to know to provide some confidence here for this project,” Brunskill said.

The feasibility study for the geothermal facility this past year was focused on providing power to the aquatic centre and it would not be able to provide energy to commercial development in the area, the city said.

If everything goes according to plan, Brunskill said the aquifer could heat the new pool for roughly 70 years.

Click to play video: 'Regina city council votes to approve new aquatic centre'
Regina city council votes to approve new aquatic centre

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