New rules coming for geothermal

Leader staff

The provincial government is getting into the act of regulating the development of geothermal energy. It reflects the expectation that a lot of such development will be going on, or could be. The government certainly hopes it will.

The proposed legislation will clarify rules for geothermal energy development, says an Oct. 20 news release.

“If passed, the bill will: outline rules and processes for industry, establish the legislative authority for land use and liability management, and protect landowners and mineral rights owners.”

This is the second Alberta government news release in October about geothermal development. The first one talked about government efforts to attract investment in geothermal.

“Interest in geothermal energy development has increased because of several factors, including: improved available data; advances in technology; and the ability to complement other industrial and commercial processes, such as agriculture and forestry.”

The Oct. 20 news release says, “modelled after the Oil and Gas Conservation Act, this legislation (Bill 36) would provide the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) with the authority to regulate the safe, efficient and responsible development of Alberta’s geothermal resources. The legislation clarifies industry requirements, establishes the AER’s oversight authority, and establishes government’s ability to receive revenues, such as royalties and fees, for geothermal development.”

Quick facts
Geothermal energy is the natural heat that originates from the Earth. It can be used for heating and cooling or to generate clean electricity.

This legislation establishes the framework to regulate geothermal development below the base of groundwater protection, which is the depth groundwater goes from non-saline to saline. Alberta Environment and Parks will continue to regulate shallow geothermal development, which occurs above the base of groundwater protection.

Bill 36 creates the Geothermal Resource Development Act, and amends several existing acts, including: Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, Mines and Minerals Act, Oil and Gas Conservation Act, Pipeline Act, and Responsible Energy Development Act.

Geothermal potential in Slave Lake in 2018. Darker spots are hotter. Photo courtesy of Terrepin Geothermics and Northern Alberta Development Council.

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