Geothermal energy represents a promising source of renewable, carbon-free energy in the NWT. Geothermal energy could be used for heating and electricity in homes, institutions and businesses.
Geothermal energy occurs in two basic forms: geoexchange, where heat differences between ground temperate and atmospheric temperate on the earth’s surface can be turned into energy with the use of heat pumps; and deep thermal, where holes are drilled, sometimes to several kilometres, and heat is tapped into and drawn to the surface and captured for use.
A geothermal favourability report provides information about which areas of the Northwest Territories have potential for geothermal development. This study does not take into effect factors such as energy demand and economic viability. Furthermore, a review of the regulatory regime, including proposed changes to regulations to allow streamlined uptake of geothermal power in the NWT, was completed in 2011 and is still applicable to the NWT regulatory system.
Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) has helped complete more in-depth analyses of the potential for geothermal energy development in Fort Liard, where the Fort Liard Geothermal Demonstration Project was found to be technically and economically viable for the community. ENR will continue to study this promising energy source as circumstances in the NWT change.
In-depth analysis on geothermal feasibility has been undertaken in several NWT communities. An energy development project in Fort Liard was undertaken by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) but was found to be technically and economically unviable for the community.
Additional viability studies have been completed in the communities of Yellowknife Fort Simpson, Fort Providence and Hay River. The studies show favourable conditions for these communities, with varying levels of technical and economic feasibility.