GeoNow: A Novel Approach to Geothermal Energy in Alberta

Exerpt from the Report:


Geothermal energy is heat that is derived from the Earth. It is the thermal energy contained in the rock and fluid that fills fractures and pores within the Earth’s crust. This energy is generated in the Earth’s core, 6500 kilometers below the surface. Temperatures hotter than the surface of the sun are continuously produced by the slow decay of radioactive particles. It is considered a renewable energy because the heat emanating from the interior of the Earth is essentially limitless and is constantly being regenerated.

Worldwide, Canada is dwarfed by many other countries when it comes to the direct use of geothermal power. In 2000, Canada was ranked 25th in the world using only 284 GWh/yr of geothermal energy (most of which was direct heating and virtually no electrical applications) as compared to China, which is at close to 9000 GWh/yr [1].

Historically, the economics of geothermal energy projects failed due to the high costs associated with drilling and completing wells. GeoNow focuses on the potential energy locked within the large number of abandoned oil and gas wells in Alberta. Geothermal waters found in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) represent an abundant and cheap energy source that is sequestered in underground aquifers. It is found that over 90,000 of the abandoned wells in Alberta lie within part of the WCSB called the Viking Aquifer. The Viking formation is one of many prolific oil and gas reservoirs in Alberta that is buried from east to west and varies between 1,000 to 3,000 meters deep. The Viking’s geothermal aquifers range in temperature from 33 to 99°C. The potential energy locked in Alberta’s geothermal waters is the equivalent of two to five trillion barrels of oil equivalent [2].

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