Study suggests old Fort Nelson gas field has potential for geothermal power plant

A depleted natural gas field in the Horn River Basin near Fort Nelson has been identified as a prospective site for a geothermal power plant.

The Clarke Lake Field, located 14 kilometres southeast of Fort Nelson, has had more than 100 natural gas wells drilled into it, activity which Geoscience BC says provides valuable data about conditions below the surface. Its report assesses a potential 15 MW geothermal project at two potential sites in the Clarke Lake Field from a site servicing and development perspective.

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“This study puts initial numbers on the idea of using abandoned oil and gas fields to generate geothermal energy and heat in northeastern British Columbia,” said Carlos Salas, Geoscience BC’s executive vice-president and chief scientific officer.

“The electricity used in the area is mostly gas-generated, or imported from Alberta, so as well as increasing local electricity generation, there is real potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to bring new and diversified economic opportunities to the area.”

The report provides high-level estimates of power plant design requirements, site development considerations, and assumptions on potential power customers. It estimates that development costs would total between $139 million and $285 million, with a payback period of between 12 and 24 years.

The report also identifies future opportunities that a geothermal plant could help to facilitate, including greenhouses that use heat from the plant and the potential to attract cryptocurrency mining operations.

Fort Nelson First Nation Chief Sharleen Gale said she’s excited at the potential benefits such a project could bring to the community.

“Fort Nelson First Nation is grateful for the studies by Geoscience BC that have highlighted geothermal resource opportunities immediately adjacent to our home community and located in our territory where our people have lived for thousands of years,” Gale said in a news release.

“There aren't many places in the world where you can access geothermal energy — it could revolutionize the north! We are grateful for this unique opportunity to pursue clean, renewable energy that can provide us with food security, energy independence and diverse economic opportunities in our territory. The possibilities are endless.”

Click here to read the study.

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