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News and Information on Geothermal Energy in Canada

Just beneath the surface of the Earth—and occasionally, right on it—there is an abundant source of clean, renewable energy. Geothermal energy is a means of pumping water into the ground to absorb and distribute the heat stored within the Earth’s mantle. Once captured that heat can either be converted to electricity, or used directly to heat homes or other buildings, keep streets ice-free, warm greenhouses, or put to other industrial uses. It is emissions-free, relatively low-tech, and, once wells are drilled and power systems installed, very cheap to run.

Geothermal energy potential is very location-specific; some places, like Iceland or Japan, have lots of economically feasible geothermal potential, while others have practically none. In Canada, geothermal potential is concentrated in the Rocky Mountains, the Northwest Territories and Yukon, though there are pockets elsewhere that could develop geothermal as well. Even Saskatchewan is working on a geothermal plant. There are also a lot of blank spots on the map that haven’t been explored for geothermal.

The industry has been slow to develop in Canada, which, unlike every other country on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” has no commercial geothermal power projects. Lots of reasons have been suggested for the slowness, including a lack of regulatory structure and lack of government interest (B.C. is the only province with regulations specific to develop geothermal energy), cheap fossil fuels, and high upfront costs. But it is picking up, with several communities interested in adopting the technology for their own uses.

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