Green Energy Goes Deep: A Geothermal Foothold in Alberta
Geothermal is a renewable energy source that holds tremendous promise for a greener future. It even has some advantages over the more common alternatives to carbon-based fuels.
“It’s quite different from wind and solar,” explains Jeanine Vany, P.Geo., an APEGA member helping lead the way in the advancement of geothermal technology. “You don’t need the wind to blow or the sun to shine—the energy is available all the time when you need it.”
Born and raised in Newfoundland, Vany has a bachelor’s degree in geology and environmental studies with honours from St. Mary’s University in Halifax. Her career spans more than 15 years in the oil and gas industry.
Benefitting from her experience and expertise is Eavor Technologies Inc., an early stage, geothermal-energy start-up in Calgary that’s implementing a deep, closed-loop energy solution. Vany is its executive vice-president, geoscience.
“We built our technology on the back of oil and gas technology. We leveraged all of the technological advances that came out of the shale gas boom in the last five years with respect to mud pumps and drill bits, as well as overall efficiencies in drilling execution. We’ve found a way to implement stable and reliable heat and electricity projects in a scalable manner.”
Last summer, in a commercial demonstration project near Rocky Mountain House, Eavor Technologies drilled a set of multilateral wells 2.5 kilometres deep to harvest the Earth’s heat. The technology does not inject or produce fluids. Rather, it relies solely on circulating water through a network of multilateral wells that function like a buried pipeline and heat exchanger.
Water goes down a vertical inlet well into the network of wells, then the heated water comes up through a vertical outlet well to the surface. There, power or heat can be produced, and the cycle repeats.
There is no water treatment required. No carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases are released. No seismic activity is induced. “It is environmentally benign,” says Vany.
Eavor Technologies expects to have its first commercial project off the ground in early 2021, and the goal is to supply heat or power to the equivalent of 10 million homes within 10 years. The company has a growing global pipeline of commercial opportunities in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Japan, and the U.S.
“This is a game changer for renewable energy production, because it’s always on and scalable,” Vany says. “You can locate it where it’s needed by people, where there is heat demand, or near electrical infrastructure.”
The economy and job market will benefit. “When this is rolled out commercially, it will put Albertans back to work because we need to bring the expertise with us to execute our early global projects. We will need every skill set, from the office geoscientists and engineers right through to the directional drillers and rig personnel to build these projects.”
The company is all about leveraging Alberta ingenuity. “We’re going to be a leader in green technology and employ people in their skillsets in a new industry that provides reliable and affordable green energy,” Vany predicts.
Eavor Lite Demonstration Schematic
More About Vany
Jeanine Vany has established herself as a female leader in the energy industry. In fact, she’s been recognized with a 2019 award from Young Women in Energy, a Calgary-based group.
Even though she’s busy making things happen for Eavor, she likes to share her time and knowledge with others. Vany is the founder of the Geothermal Division of the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists, and she is part of Heather’s Nerd Herd, a small group of women that has raised more than $50,000 for the Alberta Cancer Foundation.