Integration of deep geothermal energy in Canada's energy portfolio

Project Lead:  Jacques Guérette, OERD, NRCan - Ottawa
Lead Proponent: Institut de recherche d’Hydro-Québec (IREQ)
Location: Varennes, QC
ecoEII Contribution:  $ 800,000
Project Total:  $  2,910,000
Strategic Area:  Renewables

Background:

A major part of Canada is comprised of hot rocks located several thousands of meters below the surface, and this deep geothermal energy, stimulated by hydraulic fracturing, has the potential  of becoming an important energy component in the portfolio for the production of electricity.

Geothermal energy production is a form of renewable energy and has the advantage of producing electricity in a continuous fashion, unlike other renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar, which are highly variable sources of electricity production.

This continuous characteristic largely facilitates the integration of geothermal energy into the electrical supply network. This energy resource rests on the use of deep geothermal heat of low temperatures (85 to 150°C) and its direct conversion into electricity by the aid of power generating plants.

Although current technology could give access to very deep geothermal energy resources, its economic feasibility is not yet demonstrated. Consequently, more research is necessary in order to identify the most favourable sites, to create and manage deep geothermal reservoirs and to optimize conversion of heat-to-electricity.

Project Objective:

The objective of this project is to study the potential for deep geothermal (EGS – Enhanced Geothermal System) for electricity production in Québec and Atlantic Canada.  The project will develop knowledge and expertise that will support geothermal development by identifying and characterizing the regions and sites that are most favorable for geothermal exploration and development.  Site selection as well as an in depth study for the development of an EGS pilot will take place.  This study will address the scientific, technical, economic, and regulatory elements that support a pilot geothermal project in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

Benefits to Canada:

This Project will make it possible to characterize an emerging technology of interest and to provide the foundations necessary for its development in Eastern Canada. The project will rest on the development of knowledge and expertise, and the resulting qualified labour. 

Project Status:

Work is progressing according to the work plan. Most master’s and doctorate students are at work. Geothermal reservoir and power station simulation and modelling work has begun and field studies/measurements have been started in northern Quebec. Furthermore, partners have developed a plan to synthesize the results of their research work. The content of the synthesis report and appendices, as well as the responsibilities of participants have been defined. Periodic meetings are expected to be held prior to the end of the project in order to coordinate the writing and formulation of conclusions and recommendations.

Map of temperatures at a 7 km depth along the St. Lawrence River valley

Map of temperatures at a 7 km depth along the St. Lawrence River valley
(note: average temperatures are identified based on the colour scale as well as values indicated directly on the map).

 

Project Partners:

Institut national de la recherche scientifique - Conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et en génie

Institut national de la recherche scientifique - Le Fonds de la recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies

Centre National en Électrochimie et en Technologies Environnementales - Conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et en génie