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Ottawa commits $40.5 million to Fort Nelson First Nation geothermal project

Fort Nelson First Nation Chief Sharleen Gale signs an agreement for the Clarke Lake Geothermal Project.

Fort Nelson First Nation’s Clarke Lake Geothermal Project (CLGP) is proceeding thanks to nearly $40.5 million in federal funding.

The project is 100 per cent Indigenous-owned. The $40.5 million in federal funds which includes $38.2 million from NRCan’s Emerging Renewable Power Program.

“Fort Nelson First Nation is proud to lead the energy transition by harnessing the earth’s heat with the Clarke Lake Geothermal Project,” said Chief Sharleen Gale, Fort Nelson First Nation and chair of Deh Tai LP. “This geothermal project will be an economic driver for the entire region. FNFN is defining industrial activities in our territory by diversifying our economic portfolio for the benefit of generations to come.”

Although the region is served by BC Hydro for electricity, the electric grid is fully reliant on fossil fuel generated electricity. By creating this project, Deh Tai LP is addressing climate change by reducing the region’s emissions as well as adding energy capacity with clean baseload power. It is anticipated that CLGP will produce anywhere from 7-15 MW of electricity, helping the provincial and federal governments meet their climate change targets.

This new industry will act as an economic catalyst for the entire Northern Rockies Region while creating British Columbia’s first geothermal hub.

Besides electricity generation, geothermal energy complements other economic activities by using the abundant direct heat for buildings, forestry and agriculture. The Fort Nelson community is amongst the most northern communities in British Columbia with long cold winters. This availability of heat has captured the imagination of many in exploring the cascade of opportunities it will offer.

A drill rig is currently being mobilized to deepen an existing gas well to 2,000-2,500 feet as well as developing a new full sized geothermal production well. Test results will be available by the end of August 2021 to help quantify the heat energy available.

“Deh Tai LP looks forward to exploring the potential for further economic development using geothermal energy; Clarke Lake Geothermal GP is structured to manage the development while also maximizing local business initiatives along with training for employment opportunities,” said Jim Hodgson, CEO of Deh Tai LP

Clarke Lake’s depleted gas field is being repurposed for clean energy production. The presence of a geothermal resource is well known due to over 60 years of gas production data, public sector, and academic assessment. The legacy of gas development also provides transferable skill sets, equipment and knowledge that will be built on to help this geothermal project succeed.

To bring this project to fruition, Deh Tai LP is working with Barkley Project Group — a project management firm with experience in over 60 renewable energy projects.

“The electric grid in northeastern B.C. is completely reliant on fossil fuel generated electricity, and the Clarke Lake Geothermal Project helps the province of B.C. meet its climate targets and achieve the CleanBC plan. Fort Nelson First Nation is forging the way with British Columbia’s first geothermal project,” said John Ebell, project manager of Barkley Project Group.

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