Canada is ideally positioned to be a world leader in geothermal electricity and heat production—a technology that could play a critical role in humanity’s net-zero energy transition. Conventional (i.e., shallow) geothermal systems are already well-known and successful source of electricity and heat: but the best sites are already exploited and remaining ones are limited to a small number of geographic regions in around the world, including a few in Canada. But there remains a massive opportunity for deep enhanced geothermal systems (or “ultradeep geothermal”) that create heat-exchange reservoirs in hot, dry rock more than 5 kilometres below Earth’s surface. Ultradeep geothermal power plants could be built nearly anywhere on Earth and provide an essentially limitless supply of net-zero power.
However, the development of ultradeep geothermal is impeded by a set of tightly interconnected technical, financing, social, and political challenges. The key technical challenge is our current inability to drill quickly and cheaply to depths of more than 5 km. This challenge is hard to solve due to the lack of incentives for investment in new drilling technologies, and the fragmented landscape of key stakeholders, including geothermal technology companies, industry groups, researchers, clean tech investors, and relevant government agencies.
To overcome these challenges, we must bring these stakeholders together to rapidly develop a private-public innovation ecosystem. Cascade Institute researchers provide timely research and analysis on the technological, regulatory, financial, and social obstacles facing ultradeep geothermal to guide technology companies, investors, and public sector actors.
- ArcTern Ventures
- Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge
- Clean Air Task Force
- Deep Earth Energy Production (DEEP) Corp.
- KPA Advisory Services
- Transition Accelerator
Globe and Mail article by Rebecca Pearce and Ian Graham
November 11, 2023
National Observer article by Scott Janzwood
November 11, 2022
Opportunity Analysis by Ian Graham, Ellen Quigley, Scott Janzwood, and Thomas Homer-Dixon
May 27, 2022
Globe and Mail article by Thomas Homer-Dixon, Ian Graham, and Ellen Quigley
May 27, 2022