Energy in Canada's North

Geothermal Energy Potential of Northwest Territories

Thursday, November 22, 2018 - 10:00 to 10:19 Theatre 2


S.E. Grasby (Presenting)
Geological Survey of Canada

J. Majorowicz
Northern Geothermal

Northern Canada faces unique challenges of numerous remote communities largely separated from electrical grid systems. Thermal and power needs are typically meet by truck transported hydrocarbons, which in some cases is subject to winter roads and/or seasonal freeze and break up of ice bridges that limits shipments to narrow windows through the year. Potential to develop local energy resources can provide communities with energy sovereignty along with greater energy security. We examined the broad geothermal energy potential of the NWT with particular respect to communities with higher potential. The broad area of eastern NWT underlain by the Canadian Shield has low heat flow and geothermal gradients limiting resources potential largely to potential heat pump systems, or potentially Enhanced Geothermal Systems that is still in a technology development stage. Some notable exceptions are geothermal potential of abandoned mines where large water filled mine tunnels allow high volume production and heat extraction. Sedimentary basins of the western NWT have inherently low thermal conductivity and act as thermal blankets trapping radiogenic heat. These regions also have higher heat generation. Drilling by the petroleum industry define regions of high temperature geothermal resources at depths associated with known aquifer units, suggesting potential for sufficient fluids production rates to produce net power at surface along with associated direct heat use. Potential issues with scaling associated with brines from these levels could cause some technical challenges however. Further research on potential hot sedimentary aquifers could help focus potential exploration targets for geothermal systems.