Early in January, I received a press release that excited me greatly.
It was from Yukon Energy and it announced it received $125,000 in funding from the Yukon Cold Climate Innovation Centre to investigate the possibility of generating power with geothermal resources.
Ultimately, this could lead to a clean and green generating plant that will provide for all of the Yukon’s energy needs.
I can buy an electric car – no, an electric truck – in 10 years and nobody is going to sneer at me because it forces Yukon Energy to bring another diesel generator online.
My electric truck won’t cause any environmental damage either and, with far fewer moving parts than an internal combustion engine, I will save money on repair bills (sorry, Bernie).
Well, I had 20 more e-mails to get through that morning and that little hamster in my head quickly determined that this wasn’t arts, culture, entertainment or recreation, so I deleted it and moved on.
But I checked for news reports over the next week and discovered I was the only one excited by these vast pools of hot water kilometres below the clay of the Yukon.
You would think the engineers at Yukon Energy are excited by this but, heck, they’re engineers. They want to see the proof … they want something they can measure.
I am optimistic about this idea of geothermal energy production and it could be because I have been so pessimistic about many of our other attempts to save the planet.
For instance, we are told to reduce, reuse and recycle … and yet we keep Raven Recycling limping from funding crisis to funding crisis.
We are told to replace the washers in our taps to conserve water … and yet many businesses and homes in the Yukon have bleeders to keep the pipes from freezing up.
We are told to use mass transit … and yet the city buys large buses instead of smaller and more efficient vans that could be operated with higher (read: useful) frequency.
I figure that a series of big discoveries will solve most of our environmental issues and, if the price of gasoline goes back to $1.50 a litre again, those big discoveries will suddenly come spilling out of the universities and garages around the world.
Did you know that one of the bright lights in the green movement is pond scum?
Yup, right out of left field, eh? Well, pond scum – algae – doubles in mass several times a day, it eats up carbon-dioxide from the air, it doesn’t pollute when used and nobody wants to eat pond scum so its development won’t upset the food supply.
Even easier, the distribution systems and vehicles do not need major conversions to use it. There are already small-scale operations and it could be ready for mass production in 10 years.
Then you have geothermal energy production. It isn’t a new science either. There are geothermal electrical plants operating in 24 countries already and Yukon Energy has already tapped into this layer of hot water and is warming the Whitehorse Rapids Fish Hatchery building and tank.
The City uses it to keep water lines from freezing.
All of this technology is wasted if there is no political will to advance it before the price of fuel gets out of hand. And managers at our utilities need to take a gamble.
To the credit of our municipal politicians, Yukon Energy and the Yukon Cold Climate Innovation Centre, burning fossil fuels and relying on our accident-prone hydro-generating facilities may one day be history.
Baseboard heaters will be popular again.
Now, to make a large-scale plant possible, they just need to find a geothermal reservoir. I am optimistic because Yukon Energy and its partner, the City of Whitehorse, can use satellites now to find an economical site.
And how difficult could it be? The Yukon is located in an area they call “The Ring of Fire.” Sounds optimistic to me.