Amid the search for new clean-energy sources, there has been a renewed interest in geothermal energy production in Canada. There are two types of energy systems that can be obtained from the earth's heat: Heat Exchange Systems and Steam Turbine Energy Generation Systems.
Heat Exchange Systems use temperatures found in the earth or below water to cool or heat air and water for buildings. In the typical system, a heat pump will extract heat from underneath the ground to provide heat in the winter months, and in the summer, the pump is reversed in order to provide air conditioning by moving hot air out of the building and down into the ground. There are currently more than 30,000 geothermal heat exchange installations in Canada that are used for residential, commercial, institutional and industrial applications.
Steam Turbine Energy Generation Systems use steam or hot water in the earth's crust to power turbines for energy generation. Currently in Canada, feasibility testing is underway for what may become Canada's first geothermal energy generation site in the Meager Mountain - Pebble Creek area of British Columbia, where a 100-250 MW electrical facility is currently being assessed for development. The United States, as the world's largest producer of geothermal electricity, generates an average of 16 billion kilowatt hours of energy per year. Today, roughly sixty new geothermal energy projects are under development in over a dozen states that will double current geothermal power production. Recent reports indicate that as much as 20% of U.S. power needs could be met by geothermal energy sources by 2030.
Geothermal projects will raise unique legal challenges, requiring specialized legal expertise in a variety of areas including energy, real estate, municipal planning, corporate and tax structuring.