Geothermal energy uses naturally occurring heat within the earth to heat water and buildings and generate power, with few emissions or environmental impacts. Alberta has vast pockets of heat below ground, making the province Canada’s geothermal leader, but testing and developing new technologies can be a barrier for many companies. Unlike the United States, Japan and other countries, Canada does not currently have an open-access test site to help spur innovation.

Alberta is taking the first steps to create a new Alberta Drilling Accelerator. This groundbreaking facility would be the first of its kind in Canada, establishing Alberta as a global hub for geothermal technology. This will drive new innovations in geothermal and other clean energy projects that can reduce emissions and power communities around the world.

To kick-start the project, the Alberta government is investing $750,000 to conduct a feasibility study led by Calgary-based Eavor Technologies and other stakeholders. The study is the first step in assessing the proposed facility. It will include identifying a site, business planning, research on the governance model, an economic impact analysis and stakeholder engagement that will lay the groundwork for the initial planning stages of the project.

“Alberta has been a global energy leader for more than a century, renowned for our skilled workforce, innovation and one of the largest oil and gas reserves on the planet. The proposed Alberta Drilling Accelerator presents enormous potential to help our province lead the next wave of energy projects here at home and around the world that reduce emissions, create jobs and enhance energy security.”

Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Environment and Protected Areas

The Alberta Drilling Accelerator would help companies test out and develop new geothermal drilling techniques or technologies to reduce emissions and drive growth across the clean energy sector. It would be an open-access, technology-agnostic drilling test facility capable of drilling in challenging environments, including deep depths, high temperatures and different rock types.

The accelerator also would help speed up the development of carbon capture, utilization and storage; helium; critical minerals; and other clean technologies and commodities that rely on Alberta’s drilling sector. All of this helps attract investment and bring new technologies to scale in Canada.

“With cumulative geothermal investment poised to reach $1 trillion by 2050, a geothermal arms race is very much underway to commercialize novel drilling techniques that accelerate geothermal development – exhibited by testing facilities in the United States, China and Iceland. As Canada’s first geothermal test bed, the Alberta Drilling Accelerator will help bring geothermal technologies to scale, supporting companies like Eavor. We commend the Government of Alberta for this bold initiative.”

John Redfern, president and CEO, Eavor Technologies

“We are proud to witness Eavor, a CDL-Rockies alumni company, create new opportunities for innovators like themselves to advance the adoption of energy transition technologies like geothermal. The Alberta Drilling Accelerator will further solidify Alberta’s position as a leader in the global sustainable energy landscape.”

Heather Marshall, site lead for CDL-Rockies and Haskayne ScaleUp, University of Calgary

If the feasibility study shows the facility is economically and environmentally viable, and if the project is approved by the Alberta government, the facility will start taking shape at the selected site and drilling could start as early as 2025.

"Canada is home to the most advanced drilling technology in the world. Not only do our members support the responsible development of oil and gas, but we are integral in the extraction of new energy resources like geothermal and critical minerals. Our workers are at the epicentre of Canada’s energy transformation. Our people, technology and processes are leading the way towards a more diverse energy future. The Alberta Drilling Accelerator is a government-enabled policy approach to expand Alberta’s drilling capacity and reach its full potential as the world's most diverse and technologically advanced producer and exporter of sustainable energy and critical minerals.”

Mark Scholz, president and CEO, Canadian Association of Energy Contractors

“The Alberta Drilling Accelerator is a testament to Alberta’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. Leveraging our oil and gas sector expertise, Alberta is poised to become the global leader in developing new geothermal technologies that will play an integral role in reducing emissions while supporting job creation.”

Alison Thompson, chair, Canadian Geothermal Energy Association

Quick facts

  • The Canadian Association of Energy Contractors estimates that one active drilling rig, whether drilling for natural gas or geothermal, creates approximately 220 direct and indirect jobs and
    $1 million in tax revenue.
  • In 2019, Eavor received $2 million in provincial funding through Emissions Reduction Alberta and Alberta Innovates for the world’s first closed-loop geothermal system.

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