CALGARY, July 18, 2018 – Alberta needs to put clear rules in place to heat up development of geothermal energy – a renewable, controllable and clean source of electricity – in the province, according to a new Canada West Foundation report released Wednesday.

Geothermal energy, a form of electricity that uses the natural heat of the Earth, is becoming increasingly viable as a form of power generation that could help Alberta drive down emissions. But Alberta’s laws do not yet regulate geothermal development: it’s not clear who owns geothermal resources or how to obtain the rights to their development. This creates significant uncertainty for would-be geothermal developers, discourages investment and holds back the province from developing another source of clean energy.

According to Hot Commodity: Geothermal electricity in Alberta, the province should develop a technology-agnostic regulatory framework to enable responsible development of geothermal energy.

The report uses a new geothermal electricity technology – Eavor-Loop – as a test case to understand regulatory challenges to innovative renewable and small-scale electricity innovations in Alberta.

Clear regulation is also lacking in Alberta for distributed generation, that is, small-scale electricity production at or near where the electricity will be consumed. The province’s existing laws disadvantage many forms of potentially beneficial distributed generation, the report concludes.

Hot Commodity is part of a new Canada West Foundation series, Getting to Go: Removing regulatory barriers to energy innovation, that looks at how to create a regulatory environment that supports the adoption of innovation in the energy sector.

“With Alberta’s existing expertise in extracting oil and gas from underneath the Earth’s surface, developing an industry to extract heat should be a no-brainer. It’s time for Alberta’s regulatory environment to catch up.”

– Nick Martin, policy analyst and report author

“The success of our innovative scientists and engineers presents challenges for legislators and regulators to keep up. Geothermal electricity is a great example of a clean energy opportunity where the technology is still evolving. A regulatory framework that enables both today’s and tomorrow’s technologies will keep Alberta and Canada at the forefront of developments that will provide clean electricity and opportunities in export markets.”

– Colleen Collins, Canada West Foundation Vice-President