As the Alberta economy recovers from its latest recession, more and more energy (pardon the pun) is being put into the diversification of the energy industry. It’s an effort that should mean more stability for the economy’s future—and more growth potential. It’s also an effort that contains clear benefits for the environment as well as for the bank accounts of tomorrow’s energy consumers, but it means an investment in a topic that has been a bit of a bad word for Albertans in the past: green energy. Now that innovation is taking the potential for green energy leaps and bounds ahead—and now that the government is creating incentives that are helping to make the investment in green energy more accessible, affordable, and beneficial, the term “green energy” is becoming less of a bad word and more of an earmark for Alberta’s future potential. That said, we still have a lot to learn about what all that future of energy could entail.
What are the big green energy sources in Alberta?
One of the best-known green energy sources is solar. Access to solar energy is becoming readily available through most energy providers. But did you know that there is another energy source that is just as easily available, and that is actually a more affordable and lasting investment than solar? Geothermal energy is one of the least-known-about green energy sources—and it’s actually making a bigger impact than its lack of reputation would let on.
What is geothermal energy?
Have you ever been to Jasper National Park? When you were there, did you happen by the Banff Upper Hot Springs or the Miette Hot Springs? Both are solid examples of geothermal energy at work. Geothermal energy describes the energy that is available from under the Earth’s surface. As its name suggests, geo (Earth) thermal (heat) is heat energy from the Earth. It is naturally created by the extreme amounts of pressure that pull the outer core of the planet’s crust toward its core. Geothermal energy is naturally released as steam in hot springs, but that energy is only created within the top 10 feet of the Earth’s crust. Keep digging deeper and you’ll find the true potential of geothermal energy: the heat required to melt molten rock and turn it into magma. This energy is also naturally released—in the form of volcanoes—but that’s a bit intense for the amount of energy most of us would like to harness within our homes.
How can we harness this natural and renewable resource?
Geothermal heat pumps are designed to capture the heat from beneath the Earth’s surface and use it to heat (and cool) our homes. A system of pipes called a heat exchanger gets buried into the ground near the building and collects heat. The heat pump then distributes this heat into an indoor air delivery system, thus warming your house in the winter. The system can also be used in reverse in the summer months, when you want to cool your home. It simply moves the heat from within your home into the heat exchanger. This can then be used to heat your water (for free) in the summer.
Geothermal energy is a good investment because it’s actually relatively cost effective to install—plus the heat exchanger has an incredibly long life-expectancy, and the entire system can add value to the equity of your home while reducing the amount you have to pay to heat and cool your home (and water) all year long. Plus, if the number of hot springs in the area are any indication, Alberta has a lot of potential to benefit from this resource.
Contact us at energyrates.ca today to learn more about the geothermal energy options available to you.