Alberta’s Rainbow Lake set to be Canada’s first geothermal town

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geothermal energy project illustration
E2E says it uses a directional drilling rig (pictured) to bore down and through oil and gas reservoirs to find locations where temperatures reach above 200°C. Graphic Credit: E2E/YouTube

The Alberta Town of Rainbow Lake is trying to become Canada’s first municipality to be powered completely by geothermal energy, and says it will capitalize on existing oil and gas infrastructure to help accomplish the feat.

The three-phase pilot project led by E2E Energy Solutions (E2E) is expected to be completed by 2028. It will utilize the company’s Enhanced Geothermal Reservoir Recovery System (EGRRS), which upgrades the temperature of saline aquifers to be commercially viable when conventional exploitation methods do not work, the Calgary-based company says.

“We see the incredible potential for geothermal in Canada, especially where we can repurpose existing oil and gas infrastructure to produce renewable energy,” explained E2E Founder Domenico Daprocida in a statement. “Our goal is to empower communities and make energy transition economical, and sustainable,” he added.

The three project phases will be the EGRRS pilot, the construction of a surface geothermal facility, and the design and installation of the required infrastructure within the community.

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E2E says its patent-pending EGRRS process targets both non-producing and producing oil and gas reservoirs for conversion into large-scale geothermal power plants capable of producing 50—100 megawatts.

E2E says it uses a directional drilling rig to bore down and through oil and gas reservoirs to find locations where temperatures reach above 200°C. The drilling then moves horizontally towards a recovery well. Once completed, a perforated pipe is installed to create an injection well. The process is repeated several times to create what the company calls a “deep earth radiator”.

“At the surface, the hot brine has passed through a separator where it flashes into steam,” explains a demonstration video from E2E. “The steam is then used to drive a turbine to generate electricity. The condensed steam and water are then treated and sent to the hydrogen electrolysis process. A concentrated brine is created after the steam is separated from the reservoir brine.” E2E says the brine can be treated and sent to a lithium extraction process.

According to E2E, the process also produces recovered natural gas from the utilized reservoirs that can be sold to market or converted into hydrogen using energy from the geothermal plant.

Rainbow Lake Mayor Michelle Farris said her community of about 800 residents has been studying its “vast geothermal potential” in the northwest corner of Alberta for the past six years. 

“We are happy to have found a valuable partner in E2E Energy Solutions to help bring all of these past years of study into a tangible future,” she announced in a statement.

Rainbow Lake gained the support of the Dene Tha’ First Nation for the geothermal pilot project. Lands Department Director Fred Didzena said the geothermal project will “provide new opportunities and economic benefits” for the region as a whole. 

“It will greatly contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and a net-zero sustainable future,” Didzena announced in a statement. 

E2E says geothermal energy is an “underutilized” renewable energy source in Canada due to economic and technical limitations associated with conventional geothermal extraction processes. 

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