SaskPower is looking into a potential geothermal power project with DEEP
SaskPower is looking into a potential geothermal power project
MAY 16, 2017 6:00 PM
SaskPower has signed a power purchase agreement with DEEP Earth Energy Production Corp. to look into what could be Saskatchewan’s first geothermal power project.
This is part of SaskPower’s goal to have 50 per cent of its power coming from renewable energy resources by 2030.
“The ability to have things other than wind and projects like geothermal helps add to the renewable-generation mix we have. It helps us meet both our emissions targets and our renewables targets,” said Doug Opseth, director of supply, planning and integration with SaskPower.
The agreement will allow DEEP Earth to continue a proof-of-concept study to determine the feasibility of a five megawatt project near Estevan. The proposed plant would generate renewable, zero emission, baseload power from a hot aquifer three kilometres under the Earth’s surface.
Geothermal power generation passes hot water through an exchanger, creates steam and drives a turbine to produce electricity.
The electricity provided by the proposed plant would generate roughly the power required for 5,000 homes and offset about 40,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, which is equal to taking over 8,000 cars off the roads annually.
The announcement on Tuesday is only the latest stage in what has been an ongoing project for DEEP Earth. In 2013, it secured a contribution agreement with SaskPower to help fund a $2-million, front-end engineering design study on the economic and technical viability of geothermal as a resource for clean electricity generation.
At the time, DEEP Earth had already decided Estevan would be the potential site for the plant from information found in public records.
“Ironically this aquifer that we’re developing was discovered by the oil and gas industry. I believe there’s 30,000 or 40,000 wells that have been drilled in southeast Saskatchewan and some of those have been drilled down to the depths of this aquifer,” said Kirsten Marcia, president and CEO of DEEP Earth.
The public records revealed a vast “pancake-like” hot sedimentary aquifer at the base of the Williston Basin. DEEP Earth believes this aquifer will be able to support a capacity of 200 MW.
This stage of the project will see DEEP Earth drilling an initial production well and an injection well. If this is successful, Marcia said these wells will be used in the final construction of the plant.
“The money that we’re spending in our current budget is part of the total cost of the project. So it’s not wasted costs,” she said.
If this phase of the project is effective and DEEP Earth starts selling electricity to SaskPower, in the future Opseth said the province could see more geothermal energy plants built.
Geothermal energy is currently in use in Saskatchewan. Opseth said he is aware of people having geothermal systems in their homes.
“What’s different between the geothermal you might have in your home and the DEEP Earth geothermal project is the DEEP Earth project is designed to generate electricity which will power lightbulbs and power homes. The geothermal that people have in their homes is designed to offset their furnace,” he said.