The BC government has awarded a permit to advance the Fort Nelson geothermal project which could replace power currently generated from fossil fuels or imported from Alberta.
The northern-most town in British Columbia, Fort Nelson is located approximately 170 kilometres south of the BC-Northwest Territories border, and is not connected to BC’s electricity grid. It is also home to some of the world’s largest underground natural gas reservoirs.
The project is called the Clark Lake Geothermal Project. Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources says the Fort Nelson geothermal project permit “gives the Fort Nelson First Nation the certainty it needs to attract investment and move forward with developing a geothermal energy project that will reduce climate pollution while creating new jobs and opportunities.”
According to the BC government, the permit grants geothermal resource rights, or tenure, to Deh Tai GP Inc., a development company of the Fort Nelson First Nation.
The rights will be for 25 parcels of land, totalling about 6,800 hectares, in the mature Clarke Lake gas field near the community of Fort Nelson. With tenure secured, Deh Tai can apply to the BC Oil and Gas Commission for well authorizations to conduct exploratory drilling to assess geothermal potential.
Last August, the Fort Nelson First Nation received $1 million from Natural Resources Canada for the assessment of geothermal energy at Clarke Lake.
Fort Nelson First Nation Chief Sharleen Gale says “With the Clark Lake Geothermal Project, Fort Nelson First Nation is proudly demonstrating Indigenous leadership that will help pave the way for Western Canada’s transition toward a cleaner and more energy secure future.”
Geothermal is clean energy and is a firm, reliable source of generation that will provide electrical capacity whenever it is needed. Under CleanBC, the provincial government says it is working in collaboration with Indigenous peoples to seize new clean energy and economic development opportunities.
Chief Gale says “We look forward to continuing to work with our federal and provincial partners to make this project a model success that benefits our community members and the surrounding territory.”
The Province along with BC Hydro say they are encouraged by the potential of geothermal to add to BC’s mix of energy resources, particularly in remote areas of northeast British Columbia. Exploration activities in this area to date have reduced the risks and costs associated with drilling and gathering critical temperature and reservoir data required to advance geothermal projects.
In Budget 2019, the Province provided $5 million to Geoscience BC to launch a number of new projects, including a regional assessment of the geothermal energy potential in the Garibaldi Volcanic Belt, chain of volcanoes is located in southwestern BC.