Why Geothermal Deserves Its Moment in the Sun

geothermal_275Though wind and solar tend to get all the attention, Canada has a rock-steady renewable energy and heat resource that at the moment remains the realm of pure untapped potential.

Here’s what’s on offer if we decide to change that:

  • Firm, or “base load,” renewable power—that doesn’t rise and fall with the wind and sun— sufficient to power roughly five million Canadian homes and heat 750,000 homes.
  • Enough clean energy to prevent the release of about 25 million tonnes of carbon pollution each year—equivalent to the annual emissions of all of Alberta’s coal-powered power plants.
  • Some 9,000 full-time jobs—three times the number of paychecks created by Canada’s offshore oil industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Relief for remote northern and First Nations communities that struggle with soaring power, heat and food costs.

Geothermal energy provides all of these benefits—plus the smallest environmental footprint of any electricity and heat source, period.

At the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association, we’ve set a goal to bring 5,000 megawatts of this clean renewable power onto Canadian grids by the year 2025. If that sounds like a modest goal, consider that the current installed total capacity of geothermal power in Canada is zero.

That’s right, there is not a single geothermal power plant operating anywhere in the country.

The truth is, Canadian governments have largely ignored and shut out geothermal power and heat from energy conversations. For all of the above cited reasons, that needs to change.

As has already happened in other industries such as wind, solar and oil & gas, we need policies such as government grants, feed-in-tariffs and renewable portfolio standards just to get the industry started. Canada would not have an oil sands sector today without the significant early support that governments provided to get that industry off the ground. It’s the same thing here.

Once Canada’s geothermal energy industry develops and becomes self-sustaining, these programs become unnecessary, and would be phased out. There is enough geothermal power and heat potential in Canada for the industry to flourish; it will not need to rely on these programs for long. But it does need them to start.

And you can help.

Last month, we launched our powEARTHful crowdfunding campaign. We’re looking to raise $50,000 to undertake critical policy and government relations work. I invite you to make a donation today, to help us over this hump and give geothermal its day in the sun.

It’s time to bring on a different kind of energy future for Canada—a future that should include geothermal.

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