Geothermal Resource Development Act: Where is it now?

Alberta-based Eavor Technologies, founded in 2017, entered into a geothermal energy market that had little oversight, despite the provinces’ long-established history as an energy industry powerhouse.

Eavor Senior Business Developer Neil Ethier spoke to the Global Energy Show in April 2021 about the lack of regulation the company noticed in the industry, and how the cleantech company has contributed to establishment of Bill 36: Geothermal Resource Development Act

In partnership with other conventional geothermal companies, Eavor worked alongside the Alberta Government to establish a list of rules and regulations for geothermal energy development and production, based on the unique aspects of geothermal production using many of the same concepts applied in oil and gas regulation.

Not only does the act provide environmental protection standards and operating criteria, but Ethier says Bill 36 will “give us the ability to have the certainty around what the regulations are to bring in financing, to be able to finance projects in Alberta.”

Following the Geothermal Resource Development Act proclamation in force on December 3, 2020, the Alberta Energy and the Alberta Energy Regulator started work to compile a framework for operations to follow throughout the complete life of a geothermal project; including licensing, operations, testing, and closing of geothermal wells.

The Alberta Energy Regulator opened the proposal of said framework for public review in August 2021, and accepted comments from a wide range of groups, including Indigenous communities, environmental groups, and industry stakeholders.

Public review of the framework ended on September 3, 2021, and the regulations were proclaimed by force on June 30, 2022.

As a result of the new legislation, existing regulations for oil and gas have also been modified to include geothermal concerns. Definitions of oilfield waste have been amended and provisions for changing well types from oil to geothermal have also been added to the Oil and Gas Conservation Act and Rules.

Since the start of the year, the Alberta Government has received 71 applications for geothermal leases. The first lease was approved in April, followed by 30 more leases as of September.

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