Geothermal

Geothermal power plants use steam and hot water found deep underground to produce electricity. If the steam/water isn’t hot enough on its own, a liquid (binary fuel) that has a low boiling point is used to help achieve the necessary temperatures. The liquid is turned into steam, and that steam is used to generate power.

Process

Studies

KGS Group with subconsultants Mannvit and Intergroup did a review earlier this year of studies and data collected from geothermal resources.

The studies provided information on such things as typical ground and surface water temperatures, water quality, and climate.

The report looked at both the geothermal resource as well as the proximity to transmission lines.

Sites were ranked based on these criteria and the two highest ranking sites were selected for concept design development. Those two sites were Vista Mountain near Whitehorse and McArthur Spring near Stewart Crossing.

Technical and Financial Findings

Energy Firm and Annual
(GWh/yr)

Installed Capacity Dependable Capacity
(MW)
Levelized Cost of Energy Levelized Cost of Capacity Project Life In-service Lead Time
Year 1 Year 30 MW Year 1 Year 30 $/kW $/kW yr Years Years

Option #1

Vista Mountain 1

8.2 4.5 1.4 1.1 0.6 $0.362 $2,281 30 4

Option #2

Vista Mountain 2

20.9 11.7 3.6 2.8 1.6 $0.192 $1,075 30 4

Option #3

McArthur 1

18.6 10.4 3.1 2.4 1.3 $0.465 $3,192 30 4

Option #4

McArthur 2

48.2 26.9 7.7 6.2 3.45 $0.224 $1,378 30 4

Energy

Capacity

Evaluation

Aquatic environment Most favourable
Terrestrial environment Most favourable
Air quality Most favourable
First Nation lands Somewhat favourable
Traditional lifestyle Most favourable
Heritage resources Most favourable
Tourism/recreation/other land uses Somewhat favourable
Cultural/community well-being Somewhat favourable
Local economic benefits Least favourable
Climate change risk Most favourable
  •  Most favourable
  •  Somewhat favourable
  •  Least favourable

Notes

The site at Vista Mountain is close to existing transmission infrastructure and the main load centre of Whitehorse. It is located on crown land and has a relatively high water temperature compared to other sites in the Whitehorse region. That being said, all the considered sites require the use of binary fuel to achieve temperatures hot enough to generate electricity, including McArthur Springs, which has a higher temperature than the other geothermal resources studied to date. The McArthur Springs is located in a remote area far from existing transmission infrastructure and site access would be challenging. As well, the site is located within the Ddhaw Ghro Habitat Protection Area on land that has significance to the Selkirk First Nation and is designated for mineral development by the First Nation.

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Initial key findings

Pros

N/A

Cons

Water not hot enough to generate power without use of binary fuel

Expensive compared to other options

Best site is in a protected area