Although not rated in the top 11 regions and communities in B.C. that experts believe have the best potential for direct-use geothermal development, Clearwater and the Wells Gray Volcanic Field are definitely in the running.
Temperature gradient work in the North Thompson Valley might change this area’s ranking significantly, according to a report released Monday by Geoscience BC.
“The real value of this study was the community outreach which took place,” stated Dr. Catherine Hickson, the lead researcher on the project. “Through this study, we were able to identify critical knowledge gaps holding communities back from developing their geothermal resources. In many cases, direct-use geothermal had not even been considered in the community planning process. This Direct-Use Geothermal Roadmap will help fill those knowledge gaps and play an integral role in helping B.C. communities evaluate and pursue viable geothermal projects with the most promising economic potential.”
Hickson did her Ph.D. thesis studying the volcanoes of Wells Gray Park and has been a frequent visitor to this area since then. Now retired and working as a consultant, she formerly worked for Geological Survey of Canada.
Direct-use geothermal energy uses thermal waters with temperatures generally less than 80 degrees C. Traditional uses of these warm waters have been for space heating and spa applications. Direct-use water temperatures and flow rates are considered too low to economically generate electricity.
Potential direct-use geothermal energy applications include commercial, industrial and residential space heating, aquaculture, greenhouses, crop drying, snow-melting and recreational applications.
Geoscience BC plans a series of workshops facilitated by Hickson. The first of these will be a presentation to the BC Union of Municipalities in September. This presentation will be followed by regional workshops that will provide information and tools on how communities can move forward.