The future remains bright for the geothermal energy technology that is being tested and showcased at a site just west of Sylvan Lake.
Eavor Technologies Inc. drilled a pair of 2.4-kilometre deep wells connected by a pair of underground pipelines for its closed-loop geothermal system in central Alberta in the fall of 2019.
The $10-million demonstration project circulates liquids through kilometres of underground well bores, picking up heat before returning to the surface. The heated liquid can then be used for heating or to create power using heat-to-energy technology.
Eavor president and CEO John Redfern said the central Alberta project continues to operate and will remain the test bed for new innovations and other tweaks to the geothermal technology. A $300-million (200 million euros) project is well into its planning stages and awaiting final approval of $90 million worth of European innovation funding.
The company has many other projects on the go, in Germany, Japan, U.S. and Canada. Facilities in Nevada or in Alberta maybe the first to get up and running and producing power for customers.
“Even those projects are starting later (than the Germany one), there is still a possibility they will get done sooner,” he said, adding he could not divulge any details of the potential Alberta project yet.
Alberta is a cheap place to build, but on the down side energy prices are low and there is no credit given for Eavor’s green technology. However, the technology is well suited to providing power for energy industry facilities, with the added bonus of reducing carbon intensity.
While carbon taxes have been widely condemned by the Alberta government, in certain circumstances they benefit Eavor by making its technology more competitive with natural gas, which has been relatively cheap for many years.
Investors, including the Alberta government, which provided $2 million of the initial $13 million raised, have shown their support for Eavor’s vision. A financing road completed in February raised $40 million with contributions from energy industry players BP and Chevron.
Eavor now has 25 people, most former Alberta oil and gas employees, working out of its Calgary office and there are others working oversees, along with contractors.
Because a lot of the company was able to keep its foot on the gas despite the pandemic.
“We were lucky in that we had already raised some money and already got the pilot project underway,” he said.
Other research and development and the preliminary work behind upcoming commercial projects could largely be done virtually.
“We seem to be able to have dodged the worst aspects of (the pandemic) and maintained momentum. The main focus has been extending and improving the product and also getting the first versions of the product in a commercial development.”