Geothermal energy touted as alternative to Site C Print
Earth News
Posted by Joan Russow
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 21:43

By Erica Fisher

Site C Joint Review Panel members Jocelyn Beaudet, Chair Harry Swain, and James Mattison.
Site C Joint Review Panel members Jocelyn Beaudet, Chair Harry Swain, and James Mattison.Erica Fisher


The Canadian Geothermal Energy Association believes thermal energy stored beneath the Earth’s surface presents

a “cost-effective and low impact” alternative to the Site C dam, as presented at the project’s public hearing in

Fort St. John Tuesday.


Speaking via teleconference, Chair Alison Thompson maintains that B.C. Hydro and the provincial government have

decided that geothermal energy is “inconvenient” and dismiss the idea, while several other countries embrace it.

 She points to the United States and Mexico as being the first and fourth largest producers of geothermal energy,

and notes that Canada has similar North American geology. 

“The same resource that hosts greater than 4,300 Megawatts of geothermal power in Mexico and the U.S.

including Alaska north of us, clearly exists in B.C.,” she explains. “165 projects are being currently developed

in similar geology as B.C. has.” 

B.C. does not currently have any operational geothermal projects, but Thompson claims Canada and B.C.

have the potential to become a “powerhouse” on the world stage. She says the potential exists in three main

areas of the province: near the proposed LNG terminals on the north coast, new mines in northeast B.C.,

and gas projects in the Horn River Basin. 

“The northeast area of B.C. has recorded temperatures – by the oil companies themselves who operate

there – of greater than 140 degree Celsius,” Thompson maintains. “Certainly, this value is not in agreement

with ‘low temperature hydrothermal resources’ that B.C. Hydro has indicated exists in this region.” 

Thompson adds that geothermal energy seems to be overlooked and faces near impossible permitting processes,

when it could only take five to seven years for a greenfield geothermal project to be built. 

The Site C Clean Energy Project public hearing process continues Wednesday at the Pomeroy Hotel with a

general session featuring speakers from Treaty 8 Tribal Association, Steve Thorlakson and Senator Richard Neufeld,

and Area C Director Arthur Hadland.