Geothermal Energy

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Geothermal energy is the harvesting of heat energy stored in the inner depth of the Earth’s crust [1]. This internal heat comes from two primary sources: radioactive decay of elements and primordial heat resulting from the initial formation of the Earth [2]. The earth’s outer layer acts as an insulator to the heat, which is why geothermal energy involves digging deep into the soil and pumping the heat from those hotter zones.

Heat resources are not evenly distributed under the Earth’s surface. The highest quality superficial geothermal resources are mainly located in regions with high tectonic activity, such as the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ [2]. For this reason, the highest potential for natural geothermal sourcing in Canada lies in the western provinces, especially in the provinces of British Columbia and Yukon [3].
Those zones have the highest heat concentration and can be used for the generation of electrical power.

In lower temperature regions, heat energy can be pumped for direct-use in heating applications, such as thermal hot springs, or heating of commercial and residential buildings. This last process is termed geo-exchange.

With current technologies, electricity production from geothermal sources requires temperatures of 100˚C or higher, as well as an existing underground hydrothermal reservoir [3]. Flash steam power plants, which operate in hot spots with the highest temperatures simply draw the hot water from the soil and use it to drive a regular power generating steam turbine. In lower temperature locations, a Binary Cycle Power Plant is used, in which the hot water heats a binary liquid with a lower boiling temperature [2].

Availability Technology Output
10°C Everywhere Heat pump Heating homes, spa
50°C Everywh...

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...thermal energy. Energies, 3(8), 1443-1471.
5. Holroyd, P. (2011). Geothermal Energy: A No-Brainer for Canada. Pembina Institute. Retrieved from: http://www.pembina.org/
6. Thompson, A. (2010). Geothermal Development in Canada: country update. In Proceedings World Geothermal Congress, Bali, Indonesia.
7. Holroyd, P., Dagg, J., & Franchuk, R. (2011). Building a regulatory framework for geothermal energy development in the NWT. Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development.
8. Ghomshei, M. M., & Eng, P. (2007). Geothermal energy from Con Mine for heating the city of Yellowknife, NWT: A concept study. Retrieved from: http://www.yellowknife.ca/
9. Ferguson, G., & Grasby, S. E. (2014). The geothermal potential of the basal clastics of Saskatchewan, Canada. Hydrogeology Journal, 22(1), 143-150.
10. C. I. A. (2010). The world factbook. Retrieved from: http://www.cia.gov/

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