Yukon Energy and the City of Whitehorse have received funding that may lead to the discovery of geothermal heat sources for substantial electrical production.
The Yukon Cold Climate Innovation Centre is providing $125,000 for the research work. Yukon Energy will provide the rest of the $285,000 required for the project.
“Yukon is located in an area of the Pacific known as the Ring of Fire,” Yukon Energy president David Morrison said. “We believe the potential is good for finding geothermal resources significant enough to produce a substantial amount of electricity – possibly between 500 and 1,500 megawatts of power.”
The project will test the use of remote sensing satellite imagery and infrared thermal sensors to find sites where geothermal resources exist. In the north, geothermal resources are buried deep in the earth, requiring drilling to a depth of several kilometres. It’s believed that the use of satellite imagery and thermal sensors will help locate geothermal hotspots.
“We are grateful for the research money from the Yukon Cold Climate Innovation Centre,” Morrison said. “With geothermal energy, the challenge is to find ways of keeping development costs down. This research money should help us narrow the search for the best possible drill sites, and could result in big cost savings down the road.”
“The City of Whitehorse is very pleased to participate as a partner on this project with Yukon Energy Corporation and the Yukon Cold Climate Innovation Centre,” Director of Operations for the City of Whitehorse, Brian Crist, said. “Geothermal heat from the earth does not produce greenhouse gas and therefore is a very clean and green energy resource. This initiative is completely within the scope of the City of Whitehorse Integrated Community Sustainability Plan.”
“Yukon Energy is planning for the future,” Morrison added. “We recognize the need to find more renewable power, and we are exploring all avenues with that in mind. In our view, geothermal is one of the most promising forms of green energy. If our research is successful, it could lead to us providing Yukoners with clean, affordable electricity that that has very little impact on the landscape and habitat.”
See background information below.
Yukon Energy Corporation
BACKGROUND SHEET – GEOTHERMAL ENERGY
Operating geothermal electrical plants exist in 24 countries. While there are no major geothermal electrical plans in northern Canada or Alaska, Chena Hot Springs in Alaska has recently become a project of interest as it produces 200 kilowatts of electricity from its Organic Rankine Cycle power plant.
This shows the Ring of Fire, of which Yukon is a part.
In the Yukon, past and current interest in geothermal resources is mainly for heat pump systems. Besides Whitehorse, Haines Junction and Mayo have both taken an active interest in this possibility. Haines Junction investigated the potential of using an artesian well (at a temperature of 16.9 decrees Celsius) for space heating in the community. Mayo looked at the potential of using two deep warm water wells to heat local government buildings. Currently the City of Whitehorse uses low grade geothermal resources (warm ground water) to keep its sewer and water pipes from freezing in the winter.
This research project would look at identifying geothermal resources that might have capabilities for electrical production (temperatures of at least 76 degrees Celsius).
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