Geothermal in Canada


Canada may be known for its great hockey, maple sugar, and their frequent use of the word “aye,” but this country has also developed a strong geothermal industry that is unique and vibrant.  Since its first geothermal heat pump installation in 1949 in a house owned by the University of Toronto, it has grown into a mature geothermal market that encourages efficiently designed systems and innovation.

The first geothermal installation in Canada was led by <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Frank Hooper</a>, professor emeritus at the University of Toronto.  Canadian Geothermal installations grew slowly in the ensuing years, in 2000 there were only about 1,000 geothermal units installed across Canada.  Between 2001 and 2005, the market fluctuated between 2,000 to 2,500 installed units, and then rose to 4,500 units in 2006. 2007 saw a spike in Canadian geothermal installations and the market peaked to approximately 16,000 units in 2009; 2010 saw a decline in the market, but the 2011 market is believed to be stabilized and is increasing over-all.

If there was an award for the Province with the most geothermal installations, Ontario would definitely win that prize. Between 2007 and 2010, there were over 30,000 geothermal units installed in this Province.  The next closest Province in installations is Quebec with a little over 6,000 installs.  In the number of geothermal installations for every 10,000 inhabitants, the results are pretty evenly disbursed between Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Price Edward Island between 2007 – 2010.

Research and Innovation

The average temperature in Canada during the Winter is below freezing, but this hasn’t stopped homeowners from adopting this technology.  Canadian scientists have been researching and testing the underground temperature variations in Canada since 1984 and have been able to <a href=”” target=”_blank”>prove</a> that the temperature remains very constant below 6 meters.  It is interesting that despite the cold climate, over 56% of geothermal installations in Canada between 2008 – 2010 were horizontal loop applications.

In addition to having a stable geothermal industry with organizations such as the <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Canadian GeoExchange Coalition</a> that actively promote geothermal technology and set standards for the industry, there is also geothermal innovation taking place in Canada.  <a href=”” target=”_blank”>The Sun Rivers Golf Resort</a> features the largest number of Built Green™ Platinum-rated homes constructed in British Columbia by any one builder.  <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Built Green</a> is a third party certification program for sustainable homes, and platinum is their highest rating.  All the homes at Sun Rivers are highly sustainable and feature geothermal heat pumps, making it the first geothermal community in Canada.  Each home features a vertical closed loop system with the loop installed by Corix Multi-Utility Service.  The loop field is paid for by Corix and treated as part of the regular utility system.

To help increase heating efficiency in the Winter, some geothermal heat pumps in Canada use solar hot water heating to add additional heat to the loop.  Innovative geothermal installations like this and communities like Sun Rivers Golf Resort show that Canada is willing to step up and become a leader in the industry.  Despite its slow adoption, Canada seems to have a steady geothermal industry that is poised for growth in the future.

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