September 19, 2005

Geothermal energy group supports projects, seeks proposals for training course development

Since beginning operations in October 2003, the Canadian GeoExchange Coalition (CGC) and its members have committed more than $3.7 million to developing geothermal heating and cooling projects across Canada. Of this total, the CGC itself has contributed over $290,000 and expects to pass the $1.2 million mark before March 31, 2006. The $3.7 million committed to date has been invested in various projects across Canada (examples follow) and the CGC is now seeking new partners in regions of the country where geoexchange technology is underrepresented.

"The completed projects and those currently underway have shown that geothermal heating and cooling dramatically lowers emissions, while providing financial and environmental returns," said CGC board chair Denis Parent. "This reaffirms that properly designed and installed geoexchange is the most efficient and cost-effective heating and cooling technology available today," he added.

A three-year agreement signed by the CGC and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) in October 2003, which provided the coalition $3.5 million in funding, running to March 31, 2006. CGC members - BC Hydro, Manitoba Hydro, Hydro Québec, Yukon Energy Corporation, SaskPower and Milton Hydro - have committed to investing another $7 million in geoexchange technology in Canada over three years, for a total investment of $10.5 million.

Almost all of the $10.5-million operating budget ($9.17 million) will be used to support pilot and demonstration projects, with the balance used to develop strategic alliances, marketing and communications capacity, information dissemination, training, technology transfer, sponsorships, project tracking and monitoring.

In recent activities, the CGC has established a Technical Advisory Committee, drawing upon 15 of Canada's leading geothermal experts. The Committee's primary objective will be to develop a unified national training curriculum for geothermal heat pump design and installation, and to advise the CGC on related technical matters.

The coalition has also issued two requests for proposals (RFPs) to develop training courses for geoexchange designers and installers. The RFPs are part of a national strategy to transform the geoexchange market in Canada that the CGC is responsible for implementing.

Although the training courses for both designers and installers will be funded mainly by the government of Canada and by members of the CGC, on-the-ground industry practitioners will oversee course development. The RFPs were vetted by the CGC Technical Advisory Committee, which will work actively with the coalition throughout the entire process leading up to course delivery.

The CGC, based in Montreal, was set up to act as the industry catalyst to bring together private and public sector stakeholders and expand the market for ground source heat pumps in Canada. As a focal point for information, training, standards and public awareness, its mandate is to work with stakeholders to build the necessary infrastructure to respond to the climate change challenge, and to go beyond.

The group has been active across Canada in a variety of projects and activities.

In British Columbia, for example, the CGC has supported expansion of the GeoExchange BC membership from 12 to 160 members, with in-kind contributions from BC Hydro and the Greater Vancouver Regional District. Also in BC, the CGC funded the preparation of a report listing more than 70 industrial, commercial, institutional and multi-residential geoexchange installations in the province.

In the prairie provinces, projects in Aberdeen and Craik, Saskatchewan co-funded by the CGC have reduced greenhouse gas emissions from 55 to 64%. In Manitoba, the CGC and Manitoba Hydro provided funds for a study titled "Overcoming Barriers to Effective Market Penetration for Geothermal Heat Pump Products and Services."

An important market study has also been carried out in Quebec by CGC member Hydro-Québec, examining the economic potential of the market, barriers to entry and the current state of the industry in the province. A final report is due in November. Hydro-Québec has also commissioned an engineering firm to develop three geoexchange concepts for the institutional market; a report on this initiative is due in mid-October. Finally, the utility's energy efficiency program has provided $746,000 in grants for geoexchange projects; these projects represent 2.27 gigawatt-hours in annual electricity savings.

More information is available from Daniela Pizzuto of the CGC, 514/807-7559 or on the coalition's Web site, www.geo-exchange.ca.

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