The Government of Saskatchewan has announced that they have provided funding to DEEP Earth Energy Production to build a demonstration power plant in southeast Saskatchewan.
"This project has been going on for a few years," explained Kirsten Marcia, President and CEO of DEEP Earth Energy Production. "We have completed a pre-feasibility study which was jointly funded through SaskPower and Natural Resources Canada. The outcome of that was extremely positive. So now we're able to continue on to our feasibility study."
DEEP Earth will receive $175,000 from the Government of Saskatchewan.
"This funding supports the feasibility drilling. It will help support the drilling of two wells, both large production wells and the injection well. it will allow us to test the resource over a long sustained period of time in order for us to do the final modelling that we need to do for the resource."
That will then allow them to meet the criteria for the banking institutions in order to go into production.
"We are very comfortable with the quality of the resource. Ironically it is all thanks to the oil and gas industry that has drilled into this resource numerous times, as well as the potash industry. We have real temperature measurements but for myself as a professional geoscientist and any other geologist would say, until you actually drill your own wells, you could always have a surprise so you need to adjust your engineering to meet those final criteria."
She adds that they don't expect any major surprises.
"It's pretty exciting. Right now we don't have any geothermal power production in Canada. This is astounding considering the United States is the largest producer of geothermal power in the world and yet we don't have a single megawatt in Canada."
"One of the reasons for that is typically when you think geothermal, you think hot springs, steam coming out of the ground. That's not what we have here in Saskatchewan. What is unique about our situation is that we're able to drill deep into the Williston basin to a depth of 3,400 meters before we hit the hard pre-Cambrian rock."
"Lying on top of that pre-Cambrian rock is this huge aquifer that goes all the way through southern Saskatchewan into North Dakota and South Dakota. It is extremely vast. And it's hot because it's deep. We can get deep enough into the sedimentary rock where we have hot enough temperatures for the water."
"What does that mean for southeast Saskatchewan? If everything goes as planned, we aim to develop multiple facilities selling baseload power to SaskPower. It's pretty exciting and I think it's a testament to the innovation that we see within our province."
"Here's a really great innovative way where we can produce clean baseload power with no CO2 emissions. Geothermal is the only renewal that provides power 24/7. It's not based on if the wind is blowing or if the sun is shining, it's the only renewable that can directly compare or replace coal-fired generation."
They will be drilling this summer in the Torquay area, along the US border. However, drilling the wells will take some time as will building the facility to generate the power.
"If everything goes as planned, we should be generating electricity to the grid in about two and a half years."