REGINA LEADER POST – Mar 24 – “Sask. geothermal power plant to expand; completion date pushed back”

April 6, 2021

Kirsten Marcia, President and CEO of Deep Earth Energy Production Corp., speaks at an announcement at the Hotel Saskatchewan in Regina on Nov. 22, 2018. TROY FLEECE files PHOTO BY TROY FLEECE /Regina Leader-Post

New test results from a local geothermal company mean it has to push back its expected start date for a power facility in the Estevan area to 2023, but it also means the company is planning to quadruple its output.

“It gives the information on the reservoir to finesse that final spacing and length of our wells,” DEEP Earth Energy Production Corporation president Kirsten Marcia said of the test results.

When she last spoke with the Leader-Post, in January 2019, Marcia then said the proposed facility would generate five megawatts of power, enough to electrify 5,000 homes. The planned larger output, now at 20 megawatts, would quadruple how many homes could run off that: 20,000.

She also expects the number of jobs created — first pegged at around 100 — will likely double to 200.

In November 2018, her company said it hoped to have the project running by April or May this year.

Marcia said the delay to 2023 is due to the extra research drilling DEEP did to get more information about the underground hot water aquifer it’s to use.

“We wanted to make sure we fully understood this resource. I guess there’s always a fear that we just got too lucky in the first well. So we wanted to make sure we did some step-out drilling to ensure the resource was as great as we discovered,” she said.

The most recent designs for the power facility show it having 3.5-kilometre vertical wells connected to long, horizontal wells stretching 2.5 kilometres out underneath the landscape and into an underground pool of geothermal water.

One set of wells pump the hot water above ground, measuring 125 degrees C. The power facility will use a heat exchanger to “introduce that heat to a refrigerant, something like a butane.” Marcia said. “That can flash (cool it) at lower temperatures and that vaporization is what turns the turbine and makes power.”

Another set of wells pump the cooled water back into the ground; it “percolates through the sandstone to reload with heat,” she said. The process is to re-use the same water.

The size of the reservoir is expansive, part of the Williston Basin, which reaches under the Rockies in eastern Montana in the United States through southern Saskatchewan and into Manitoba and the two Dakotas.

The project is the first of its kind in Canada.

Marcia, a geologist by training, said DEEP has been looking to California, Nevada and Oregon to learn how those states use geothermal power in their areas, though she added they rely more on volcanic heat.

She also touted the company’s research, which says geothermal power meets baseload requirements; it can run constantly with no required backups, unlike wind or solar power.

The company intends to sell power to SaskPower and offer direct industrial heating.