Thanks to the increased cost of crude oil in recent years, there have been moves to make big expansions in oil production in northern Alberta, Canada. Alberta has some of the largest known petroleum reserves in the world, but unfortunately much of it is locked up in tar sands that need processing to extract the crude. The oil separation process uses hot water, and heating the water, takes energy. Traditionally oil sands production burned natural gas, and lots of it to heat the water, which of course means lots of CO2 emissions.
Now a consortium of oil companies called GeoPower in the Oil Sands (GeoPOS) wants to try a different approach. Oil sands production accounts for one-third of all natural gas consumption in Alberta, and that will increase dramatically in the coming years as production is increased. GeoPOS will be drilling a test well to evaluate geothermal energy as means to heat the water. The nuclear industry had been hoping build reactors in the region to supply energy for heating the water. Geothermal could provide the same constant energy source, as nuclear and unlike solar and wind power. Compared to a coal fired power plant geothermal produces only 0.1 kilograms of carbon per megawatt hour of generated electricity, as opposed to 185 kilograms. Geothermal would also avoid the waste disposal issues of nuclear power. Follow the Read link to learn more.
[Source: Toronto Star]