Energy in Canada's North

The University of Regina GeothURmal Project in Saskatchewan

Thursday, November 22, 2018 - 12:00 to 12:19 Theatre 2


J.E. Dale (Presenting)
Department of Geology, University of Regina

B. Brunskill
Helix Geological Consultants

L. Vigrass
Department of Geology, University of Regina

In 2014, a research team at the University of Regina initiated a proposal to construct a deep geothermal energy demonstration project on the university campus, using heat from the Williston Sedimentary Basin. This work is a continuation of research completed by the University when an exploratory geothermal test well was constructed in 1979. Hydrogeology of the site was investigated to demonstrate the potential of sedimentary basin geothermal energy and documented in over 40 publications and reports. The second well required to complete the project was never drilled and the project was abandoned. Current interest in reducing our carbon foot print and exploring alternative energy sources has resulted in renewed interest in the use of geothermal energy on campus. Geothermal energy can provide reliable, base-load heating, which is available on demand, has no storage requirements and no direct emission of greenhouse gases. This renewed project will showcase clean, green energy technology and infrastructure, with scientific, social and engineering research components. This energy source will integrate into existing heating infrastructure, and be immediately operational. To complete this project, two 2200 m deep wells will be drilled to the Deadwood aquifer beneath the University campus. Hot water from this aquifer will be pumped to the surface via the source well, where the heat will be extracted in a heat exchanger located in the heating plant on campus. The cooled water will be re-injected back into the same aquifer using the second well for disposal. The resulting heated surface fluid is then distributed using the district heating system to provide base-load heating for space and domestic water at Kisik Towers (300,000 ft2 area), domestic water at two other residence towers, the university pool and combustion pre-heating at the Central Heating Plant. This load represents approximately 60% of the capacity of this geothermal-doublet system which has a total capacity to provide base load heating for ~1.2 mill ft2. The economic value of the system is based upon the avoided cost of purchasing natural gas. Our forecasting suggests that for the first five years there is sufficient cost recovery; however, due to chronically low natural gas prices, these savings become less predictable further out. This risk is mitigated when the federal carbon tax is added to the purchase price of natural gas, slated to begin in 2019. By including the value of the anticipated carbon-tax-avoided by 2023, the university could save between $90 and 100,000 per year with the geothermal system operating at roughly 60% capacity. This value will increase as the carbon tax-rate increases and if new buildings still in the planning stage, utilize a larger portion of the system capacity. Innovation and operational experience applied in a Canadian social, geological and engineering context are required to effectively utilize this resource. The university location provides opportunities for research aiding the commercialization and acceptance of geothermal energy, along with the training of highly qualified personnel. This technology has widespread application throughout southern Saskatchewan and extensive areas of Canada possessing geothermal development potential.