Due to its northern setting, Canada’s per-capita energy use is higher than the rest of North America. Consequently, the demand for clean sources of heat and electricity is increasing. As a result, traditional renewables such as hydro, wind and solar have experienced considerable uptake in Canada in recent years, whilst the geothermal energy industry has seen little growth in spite of the country’s significant and accessible geothermal resources. To date, geothermal energy use in Canada is predominantly derived from space conditioning via ground source heat pumps, and bathing and swimming in naturally occurring hot springs and geothermal pools. The latter account for nearly all of Canada’s geothermal direct use, with an estimated installed capacity of approximately 8.8 MWth. Numerous challenges to geothermal energy development exist in the Canadian context. For example, early-stage supportive policies and funding programs, both provincially and federally, are scarce. Additionally, several provincial and territorial jurisdictions have yet to develop regulatory frameworks for geothermal energy development. This creates an uncertain environment for investment and makes it difficult for developers to advance projects beyond the exploration phase. With several geothermal projects currently underway, at various levels of progress, the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA) has been actively trying to progress provincial and federal policy support for Canada’s nascent geothermal industry. Here, we highlight the numerous policy and advocacy initiatives that CanGEA has participated in to try to advance Canada’s geothermal industry in 2019/2020.
Geothermal Energy in Canada: Moving Forward