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By Alison Thompson, MBA, M.Eng, P.Eng, President and CEO, Borealis Geothermal

Are Industries Hard-to-Abate, or is it Hard to Start Building Today what we Need for Tomorrow?

Despite being abundantly available in western and northern Canada, geothermal energy for industrial heating and cooling is the most misunderstood energy source. Why? Because what large emitters don’t understand, they don’t pursue as an alternative.

Borealis Geothermal has been at the forefront of Canadian geothermal energy development for over 15 years. We’ve had many firsts throughout our existence, including the advancement of projects in the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, and Alberta and removing or lessening legal roadblocks while supporting regulatory change. 

We develop and co-own projects and provide consulting related to feasibility and development for those getting started. As Borealis Geothermal’s principals are majority owners of the company, our consulting clients benefit from the same philosophy we apply to our projects – we treat your funds like our own hard-won capital.

Our flagship project is an industrial decarbonization play, replacing natural gas with geothermal heat. We’re certain we’re on the right path as the project has received market validation via Shell Canada’s participation through its global Powering Progress strategy.

Why aren’t others building today what is needed for tomorrow? 

In our experience, there are usually three central barriers to customer adoption:

1. Engineers and energy managers do not yet see geothermal energy as a renewable that will permanently lower, if not retire, their carbon footprint. 

Even if geothermal industrial heating (and cooling) can only serve part of the load, that load will have no carbon footprint. In some cases, having an abundance of carbon-free heat available may create process options that lower a plant’s carbon footprint or increase a facility’s output via the ability to develop new products.

2. Industrial operators don’t know if the subsurface near their facility has geothermal possibilities. Has the industrial operator considered moving to a location with geothermal energy potential? 

If you are operating in western or northern Canada or planning to, chances are Borealis Geothermal has already evaluated your potential to fuel shift. By developing Ideal Customer Profiles based on our wealth of experience, we are also familiar with what types of industrial processes in which locations are the easiest to convert. 

3. Industrial customers need help determining value or risk. How does an engineer or energy manager make a recommendation when they can’t articulate what the costs and benefits are? 

Borealis says, “Don’t let a lack of subsurface development experience exclude geothermal from consideration.” 

We can simply, honestly, and directly define all the project steps, their schedule, their costs, and the risks that need to be addressed and provide a detailed cost-benefit review. Geothermal isn’t always the optimal solution for all heating needs, but for some applications, you can’t beat it.

As Canada’s oldest geothermal company, we’ve been considering how to integrate geothermal energy into your processes before you knew it was a possibility. You don’t need to remain in a hard-to-abate industry and have carbon prices erode your future profits. Like we’ve done for prospective energy customers at our flagship project, Borealis can help you maximize the value of geothermal resources with pragmatic, asset-specific solutions.

Finally, by working with Scovan, who knows various industrial companies trying to lower their carbon footprint, other industries will be encouraged to aggregate and co-locate to take advantage of ‘cascaded’ or ‘shared’ geothermal heat.

Originally published in Scovan’s IGNITE Vol. 5