Geothermal turns to crowdsourcing

The Canadian Geothermal Energy Association, feeling left out in the cold by the Canadian government, says it will turn to crowdsourcing in an effort to boost geothermal’s prospects in the country.

“The government won’t give more until industry gives more matching dollars. But the industry can’t start until the government provides geothermal energy with the same platform as it has for wind, solar, biomass, run of river, not to mention what it has  historically given and still gives to the carbon-based fuel industry and nuclear industry,” the association’s Alison Thompson told Tyler Hamilton, author of the Cleanbreak blog.

Geothermal possibilities in Canada (image via Canadian Geothermal Energy Association)

The association believes the country has 5,000 megawatts of “traditional shallow geothermal resources” that could be accessed “with currently available technology,” and “upwards of 10,000 MW or more may be available in deep geothermal resources which require enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) whose technology is still under development.”

Right now, Canada has no geothermal power production. That’s right: None. Zero, zilch, nada.

The United States is the world leader in geothermal, with 3,386 MW of installed capacity as of the end of 2012. The Geothermal Energy Association recently reportedthat as of August this year, 11,765 megawatts of geothermal capacity were online globally – and 11,776 MW of new capacity were in the early stages of development or under construction.

Geothermal is well-regarded as a source of baseline energy, but has long struggled to grow due to the hit-or-miss nature (and thus high cost) of developing potential resources.

According to a report by the Canadian association [PDF], British Columbia is the only Canadian province with geothermal legislation on the books, and the province has one project in the “feasibility stage.” There are scattered other projects under study in other Western provinces and territories, but most appear to be languishing, categorized by the association as “unclear status.”

The hope is that money gained from crowdfunding could be used to build a more complete roadmap for the industry, setting a course for where and how geothermal resource development should be undertaken.

Hamilton reported that the association will aim to raise around $300,000 in a two-month campaign. It hasn’t started yet, but the association is right now soliciting logo designsfor the campaign, with it has dubbed “powEARTHful.” (That on out over “Bring up the heat,” “Keep it clean with hot rocks” and “Hot solutions for a new planet,” among others.)

“We will consider anything and everything and encourage you to come up with a simple design that we’ll plaster all over the place: our website, the campaign website, Facebook, LinkedIn, and also the swag that we’ll be sending out as perks for the campaign,” the group said.

Pete Danko, EarthTechling