A Call to Complete the University of Regina GeothURmal Project of 1979

  • 2019 Technical Conference Program
  • May 29, 2019
  • 11:00 am - 11:30 am

WBPC 2019 Abstract #31

Co-Authors: Brian Brunskill, Helix Geological Consultants Ltd, Laurence Vigrass, University of Regina, Department of Geology, Katherine Arbuthnott, University of Regina, Campion College, Amr Henni, University of Regina, Industrial/Process Systems Engineering, Fanhua Zeng, University of Regina, Petroleum Systems Engineering


A research team at the University of Regina initiated a proposal in 2015, to construct a geothermal energy demonstration project on the university campus, using heat from the Williston Sedimentary Basin. This work is a continuation of research funded   in part by Energy, Mines and Resources Canada, the predecessor of Natural Resources Canada in 1979, when an exploratory geothermal test well was constructed. Resulting hydrogeology and geothermal productive capacity research supported the reliable development of this resource in the greater Regina area, and documented by the publication of over 40 research papers. The second well required to complete the project was never drilled and the original well was abandoned in 1999. Current interest in reducing our carbon foot print and exploring alternative energy sources has resulted in renewed interest in the use of geothermal energy on campus. Geothermal energy can provide reliable, base-load heating, which is available on demand, has no storage requirements and no direct emission of greenhouse gases. This renewed project will showcase clean, green energy technology and infrastructure, with scientific, social and engineering research components. This energy source will integrate into existing heating infrastructure, and be immediately operational. To complete this project, two 2200 m deep wells will be drilled to the Deadwood Aquifer beneath the University campus. Hot water from this aquifer will be pumped to the surface via the source well, where the heat will be extracted using a heat exchanger located in the heating plant on campus. The cooled water will be re-injected back into the same aquifer using the second well. The heated surface fluid will be distributed using a district heating system,  providing base-load heating for space and domestic water at Kisik Towers, a new 300,000 ft2 residence, plus the university pool and for combustion pre-heating at the Central Heating Plant.  This load represents approximately 60% of the capacity of this geothermal-doublet system which has a total capacity to provide base load heating for ~1.2 million ft2 of space similar to Kisik Towers. The economic value of the system is based upon the avoided cost of purchasing natural gas with its associated carbon tax. Forecasting suggests that by 2023-24 the university could save roughly $80,000 per year, while avoiding the annual production of approximately 1,820 tonnes of CO2. These values will both increase when new buildings still in the planning stage, utilize a larger portion of the system capacity. The anticipated lifetime avoidance of CO2 emissions would be roughly 287,000 tonnes. Innovation and operational experience applied in a Canadian social, geological and engineering context is required to effectively utilize this resource. The university location provides opportunities for research aiding the commercialization and acceptance of geothermal energy, along with the training of highly qualified personnel. This technology has widespread application throughout southern Saskatchewan and extensive areas of Canada possessing geothermal development potential.