Canada is awash in geothermal energy potential, according to a report by the Geological Survey of Canada. The best prospects are in British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon, and the westernmost portion of the Northwest Territories, with some good potential also in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, and modest prospects in many other parts of the country.
- Geothermal Energy Resource Potential of Canada, 2011 (see maps on pages IX, 131-133, and 216-219 for a quick geographic overview of relative potential)
The power that could theoretically be generated from these underground heat sources is equivalent to more than 1 million times the country's current electricity use.
But factors such as transmitting the energy, financing challenges, risk management, technology development (especially since the country has no operating geothermal electrical production), cost-competitiveness with other types of energy, concerns about environmental issues such as induced earthquakes, subsidence, hydrogen sulphide emissions, and changes in groundwater and surface water, and regulatory development could dramatically reduce the energy eventually produced. Nonetheless, the authors suggest much more effort should be made to further evaluate this resource, and determine whether, where, when, and how it should be tapped.
The Canadian Geothermal Energy Association applauded the publication of the report, and is continuing its efforts to advocate for geothermal development.
For one example of media coverage of the report, see:
- "B.C., Canada Sitting on 'Massive' Store of Geothermal Energy: Report," PostMedia News, Sept. 13, 2011, by Margaret Munro.
For some perspective on US geothermal efforts, and additional insights on related environmental issues, see the TipSheet of Nov. 12, 2008.