Geothermal energy is an internationally recognized clean, sustainable and renewable source of affordable heat and power. It is obtained by pulling hot water from deep below the earth’s surface and running it through a turbine to produce electricity with low or no emissions. After the hot water is used to make clean electricity, and before the water is reinjected, the remaining heat can be used for a variety of commercial, industrial, or entrepreneurial endeavours, including fish farming, greenhouse heating, district heating, pasteurization, material drying and snow melting. 24 countries have already built geothermal power plants and Canada is not among them. We continue to burn fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas in Canada to power our electric grid, while geothermal power plant development remains blocked by political red tape.
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Send this letter to your elected officials
Dear Elected Official,
I am a citizen in your riding and request that you urgently investigate geothermal energy, which is a clean and renewable potential source of both affordable heat and power that is not currently being utilized in Canada. This is despite the U.S. and Mexico being the first and fourth largest producers of geothermal power in the world respectively. All three countries share the geology required to develop geothermal energy but only Canada, a world leader in sub-surface exploration and development, has not moved forward in developing the resource and is letting possible projects languish in red-tape.
At the provincial levels only BC has taken the time to develop a geothermal permitting process. Projects in AB, SK and YK are each waiting for their government to create a permitting system. At the federal level the government has not understood that geothermal is not an electrical source, it is a sub-surface heat source that requires prospecting and which can produce electricity. Because of the misunderstanding geothermal resource exploration is not supported properly or adequately; nor is the direct use of geothermal heat for non-electrical projects. Finance Canada has to change the governing tax codes before the geothermal industry can progress.
Importantly, geothermal systems are base load sources of renewable energy, meaning that the energy produced does not fluctuate; they continue to produce electricity and heat even when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow. This can help to strengthen the grid, and can serve as a reliable renewable complement for intermittent sources of power such as wind and solar, which rely on variable environmental factors for energy production.
In addition to low cost sustainable heat and power, geothermal energy has other important social and environmental benefits. Geothermal power plants have the smallest physical footprint of any energy source, and have been recognized by the US Department of Energy to produce more permanent employment than any other renewable or non-renewable energy source. In fact, geothermal projects produce 17x more permanent jobs than comparable natural gas projects.
Geothermal energy is a pan-Canadian resource but as of yet only the province of British Columbia has any sort of tenure mechanism for geothermal projects. Geothermal energy is also not included in a variety of federal tax incentives and support mechanisms that are made available to other energy sources. This includes, but is not limited to, Natural Resources Canada’s Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance which allows eligible energy production facilities to write off some costs but the current program does not recognize geothermal heat as a valuable resource. Also, the mining and oil/gas sectors are partially shielded from exploration risk, but geothermal does not have the same level of support. This is despite the fact that geothermal energy employs the same qualified workers and Canadian sub-surface resource development expertise. This disparity in provincial and federal support is almost exclusively due to geothermal energy’s more technical nature, which has made it the lesser known of all the renewable energy technologies in Canada..
I urge you to consult with the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA) at your earliest convenience, so that you may learn more about this promising opportunity and how you can start a new sustainable industry in Canada.
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