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Geothermal industry and policy in BC

Craig Aspinall from Western Geopower presented first to give background on geothermal energy. download presentation

The total estimated power from geothermal in BC that can be harnessed is anywhere from 1550 MW to 5000 MW. Generally each geothermal drill hole produces 2-10 MW of baseload power (consistent power all the time, night or day, wind or no wind). The cost is generally 8-10 million to drill 1 production size well to 2000-3000 meters depth. The physical footprint of geothermal is relatively low, especially considering the waste water can be just recycled back to depth.

Western Geopower has operations in California at the largest geothermal site, Geysers. They also hold the only lease for geothermal production in BC at South Meager, but this site hasn't been developed yet. Results from Geothermex, a consulting company that assesses the capacity of a geothermal reservoir tapped into by the production well, are needed before production begins. Another detail that needs to be determined is the pathway for transmission of the power.

Garth Thoroughgood from BC MEMPR presented information on the current legislation and regulations in BC. download presentation

BC is one of the only jurisdictions with legislation that regulates geothermal resources. There has been a recent increase in interest in obtaining geothermal tenure. Geothermal tenure is required for any geothermal resource development that intends to capture energy from the natural heat of the earth and all substances that derive an added value from it, including steam, water and water vapour heated by the natural heat of the earth where the water has a temperature at surface that is 80 degrees celsius or greater. The interest in obtaining geothermal tenure led the BCMEMPR to establish a geothermal task force to explore whether the current act and regulations need to be updated and to make policy recommendations. During the review process discussions with the geothermal industry and other stakeholders were held. The Canadian Geothermal Energy Association provided information to the BCMEMPR regarding policy in other jurisdictions. The policy options have been presented to the ministry executive.

The first step in the recommendations was to move forward with tenure disposition in four areas of the province. Obtaining tenure for geothermal is not like for mining. It is a bid and auction process rather than stake and claim. BCMEMPR is currently working on the referral process for the disposition of tenure. There are no legislation and regulation changes planned in the short term.