By September 28, 2017 Read More →

Town of Hinton could soon be powered by geothermal from retrofitted abandoned wells

Geothermal Power

Geothermal Plant diagram Source: EPA Government

Prof. Banks and research team partnered with Epoch Energy for the project

A research partnership to retrofit wells with geothermal energy near Hinton, Alberta to provide megawatts of power to the local community, according to a University of Alberta press release.

“We pump hot water from underground using wells, use the heat to create power, and then inject the cooled water back into the ground at another local site, where it will heat up again,” explained Jonathan Banks, research associate in the University of Alberta’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

Banks says Alberta is at a huge advantage for getting started without the very steep and expensive learning curve other places are facing.

Geothermal energy is the next hot thing in Alberta, with the potential to leverage a clean, renewable resource and fuel a new, sustainable industry.


And this emerging energy source has the advantage of using the same infrastructure as the oil and gas industry.

“We’ll use the same infrastructure, the same expertise, the same service providers, and the same software,” said Banks.

“It’s really just a matter of retooling and retraining the capacity that we already have. Alberta is at a huge advantage for getting started without the very steep and expensive learning curve other places are facing.”

With his colleagues, Banks is working on reservoir modeling that makes geothermal energy projects possible by finding reservoirs, determining their thermodynamic properties, and modeling fluid flow.

“The idea is to take a three-pronged approach: resource development, production, and community impact. I’m focused on the geology, but our group will tackle all angles, from economics to social issues to engineering challenges,” said Banks.

Long-term, the project has the potential to provide hundreds of megawatts of power to the community using geothermal energy.

Banks’ project in the Faculty of Science is underway in collaboration with faculties of EngineeringAgricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences, and the Alberta School of Business, with funding from Future Energy Systems.

Future Energy Systems is a $75 million, 7-year research program at the University of Alberta funded through the Government of Canada’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF).

The programs develops the energy technologies of the near future, examines their integration into current infrastructure, and considers their social, economic, and environmental impacts.

The program also contributes to the development of solutions for the challenges presented by current energy technologies.



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