Alberta has the opportunity to become an international leader in dry Geothermal
applications. The province lacks the super heated aquifers commonly associated with geothermal
technologies; however, so does most of the world.
Creative recombination of technologies currently employed in the petroleum and
traditional geothermal industries, and the employ of our local expertise, could result in a new
industry for Alberta. The province’s extensive experience with deregulated electricity markets
and the regulation of innovative hydrocarbon extraction techniques combine to give Alberta an
edge over our possible competitors.
As Alberta’s coal-fueled electricity generation plants age, it would be prudent to
encourage their replacement by private investors with EGS where possible. The demand for
clean baseload energy and the prevalence of dry geological formations worldwide indicates a
potential for large-scale technological export. This could provide incentive to private industry to
invest with Alberta to develop domestic geothermal industries. The amelioration of Alberta’s
international environmental reputation would benefit both private and public spheres in the
province, by opening new markets to our hydrocarbon resources-- markets that are currently
problematic due to social license issues. Upon completion, Alberta could have inexpensive, long-term heat and electricity
solutions. This could improve the quality of life of Albertans by decreased health care costs
related to coal-generation. These costs are estimated to save the Government of Alberta upwards
of $300 million per year. It could also lower utilities bills would enable low-income Albertans to
rely less on government funded social services.
Recommended applications include direct space heating as well as the development of
commercial Engineered Geothermal Systems (EGS) by which electricity could be produced.
The largest barrier to private investment is financial. Partnerships between industry and
the Government of Alberta are found to be appropriate for large-scale installations, and could be
as simple as loan-guarantees. Financial incentives such as long-term payoffs of initial capital
investment via property taxes are suggested for the residential setting.