Springhill Nova Scotia

The CBC National had an interesting story about Springhill Nova Scotia last night.

Springhill is the town that had the coal mining disaster in 1958, that was the first disaster of its kind that had extensive television coverage.  But from the deadly and dirty coal mines springs new life.

The mine shaft are several miles deep.  The mine has been closed for years, and the mine shafts have flooded.  An enterprising entrepreneur has tapped into the heat found deep in the earth, to install geothermal heating throughout the town, and for local industry and even the hockey arena.  Local industries are thriving as they now have very competitive energy costs.

The program also interviewed a representative of Maritime Geothermal, a Canadian manufacturer of geothermal heat pumps.  He said the reason the market is still small is because people don’t know how much renewable energy their home is sitting on.  He is right.  With geothermal providing only 1% of Canada’s space heating, its market share is tiny compared to its potential.

Geothermal uses a heat pump – like a refrigerator in reverse – to pump the heat out of a fluid that is circulated in the ground.  The fluid is then returned to the ground at a lower temperature, where it is once again warmed up.  A heat pump takes about 1 unit of electricity to make 4 units of heat.  So from a climate change perspective, it makes for major reductions in emissions compared to almost any other heating system.

It seems to me that the Maritimes should be fertile ground for ground source heat pumps.  The area is mostly heated by expensive fuel oil.  And the Maritimes are starting to have a decent installed base of wind turbines, which, with their strong winter production, complements geothermal heating very well.  PEI generates 20%-25% of their power from wind, and this will double by the end of the year.  PEI is transforming itself into a clean energy power, but hardly knows it.

Combine wind energy, with geothermal, and emissions for home and commercial space and hot water heating plunge by 90%.  And imported energy plunges by 100%.

After the CBC program, hopefully more people know about it.

Leave a Reply