EAS Geothermal Research Goals
- To inform municipalities, industries, public policy makers and energy consumers about the feasibility of using geothermal energy as renewable resource in their local areas.
- To assist in the commercialization of geothermal power in Western Canada through strategic public investment in pilot-scale projects.
- To support the growth of a robust Canadian geothermal industry through cutting edge in research in all phases of geothermal energy production
Programs & Projects
Imaging, Characterizing and Modelling Canada’s Geothermal Resources
This project will identify Canadian geothermal resources, characterize the reservoirs in which the resources are found, and model the thermodynamic and hydrogeologic processes that occur during geothermal resource exploitation. Research is focused on the Alberta foothills, NE British Columbia, and the Tintina trench in the Yukon. Activities in this project are sponsored both by local municipalities looking for pragmatic ways to exploit their geothermal resources, as well as geothermal developers looking to build Canada’s first geothermal power plants. Collectively, these research fields represent a systematic progression of resource development, from finding a reservoir through evaluating the reservoir’s potential and commercial viability.
Fluid/Rock Interactions in Canada’s Geothermal Systems
The purpose of this project is to understand physical and chemical interactions between geothermal fluids and geothermal reservoir rocks. Geothermal fluids include hydrothermal water, basin brines and engineered geofluids such as captured supercritical CO2. Reservoir rocks of interest are carbonates, sandstones and crystalline rocks. The fluid/rock interactions project involves studying the long-term chemical evolution of geothermal fluids and reservoir rocks, determining the thermo- and hydrodynamic properties of geothermal fluids, geothermal fluid flow through through fractured and porous media and the risks posed to industrial infracture by fluid/rock interactions in geothermal systems.
Optimizing Geothermal Energy Production and Utilization Technology
Alberta possesses a vast low enthalpy geothermal resource (below 100 °C); however, it is currently not financially viable to convert this resource to electricity. The aim of this project is to develop engines for conversion of low grade heat into electricity. Stirling engines are externally heated, closed-cycle heat engines capable of running at 0.5ºC temperature differences. With unconventional engine materials functional near 100ºC, Stirling engines present a financially sound solution to producing electricity from low enthalpy resources. Candidate Stirling engine unit designs will first be manufactured at the bench scale, to gain experience and compare options. Successful unit designs will be mechanically coupled to form engines, and electrically coupled to form modular power stations.
Socio-economic Roadmaps to Commercial Geothermal Energy Production in W. Canada
In addition to investigating the geology of Canada’s geothermal resources and the engineering competency needs to exploit them, our program focuses on the socio-economic factors involved with bringing geothermal power to communities. Research in this project focuses on assisting remote and northern communities, as well as communities looking to diversify their hydrocarbon economies, geothermal power for heat and electricity. Jurisdictional reviews of regulations in royalties in mature geothermal economies will be performed to help Canadian authority determine the best ways to legislate geothermal energy production at home. The economics of geothermal energy production in Canada will be determined. Researchers in this project will also help mediate negotiated settlements between municipalities and geothermal energy developers. This process provides an opportunity for longitudinal studies on how communities adopt renewable technologies.
Wisdom from Elders & Teachers: Grounded Energy
Through innovative communication and consultation processes co-developed with Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, this research aims to inform how we can sustainably develop renewable resources in a way that respects Indigenous rights to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). As co-creators of knowledge in this project, Indigenous community members and university-based researchers will increase their mutual capacity for energy research and governance. Read more >
Edmonton, AB T6G 2E3