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Making Alberta a geothermal energy leader


6 minute read

Eavor announces it’s the #1 geothermal energy startup company in the world – January 2024

Alberta is creating Canada’s first geothermal test site to advance drilling innovation, reduce emissions and create jobs.

Geothermal energy uses naturally occurring heat within the earth to heat water and buildings and generate power, with few emissions or environmental impacts. Alberta has vast pockets of heat below ground, making the province Canada’s geothermal leader, but testing and developing new technologies can be a barrier for many companies. Unlike the United States, Japan and other countries, Canada does not currently have an open-access test site to help spur innovation.

Alberta is taking the first steps to create a new Alberta Drilling Accelerator. This groundbreaking facility would be the first of its kind in Canada, establishing Alberta as a global hub for geothermal technology. This will drive new innovations in geothermal and other clean energy projects that can reduce emissions and power communities around the world.

To kick-start the project, the Alberta government is investing $750,000 to conduct a feasibility study led by Calgary-based Eavor Technologies and other stakeholders. The study is the first step in assessing the proposed facility. It will include identifying a site, business planning, research on the governance model, an economic impact analysis and stakeholder engagement that will lay the groundwork for the initial planning stages of the project.

“Alberta has been a global energy leader for more than a century, renowned for our skilled workforce, innovation and one of the largest oil and gas reserves on the planet. The proposed Alberta Drilling Accelerator presents enormous potential to help our province lead the next wave of energy projects here at home and around the world that reduce emissions, create jobs and enhance energy security.”

Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Environment and Protected Areas

The Alberta Drilling Accelerator would help companies test out and develop new geothermal drilling techniques or technologies to reduce emissions and drive growth across the clean energy sector. It would be an open-access, technology-agnostic drilling test facility capable of drilling in challenging environments, including deep depths, high temperatures and different rock types.

The accelerator also would help speed up the development of carbon capture, utilization and storage; helium; critical minerals; and other clean technologies and commodities that rely on Alberta’s drilling sector. All of this helps attract investment and bring new technologies to scale in Canada.

“With cumulative geothermal investment poised to reach $1 trillion by 2050, a geothermal arms race is very much underway to commercialize novel drilling techniques that accelerate geothermal development – exhibited by testing facilities in the United States, China and Iceland. As Canada’s first geothermal test bed, the Alberta Drilling Accelerator will help bring geothermal technologies to scale, supporting companies like Eavor. We commend the Government of Alberta for this bold initiative.”

John Redfern, president and CEO, Eavor Technologies

“We are proud to witness Eavor, a CDL-Rockies alumni company, create new opportunities for innovators like themselves to advance the adoption of energy transition technologies like geothermal. The Alberta Drilling Accelerator will further solidify Alberta’s position as a leader in the global sustainable energy landscape.”

Heather Marshall, site lead for CDL-Rockies and Haskayne ScaleUp, University of Calgary

If the feasibility study shows the facility is economically and environmentally viable, and if the project is approved by the Alberta government, the facility will start taking shape at the selected site and drilling could start as early as 2025.

“Canada is home to the most advanced drilling technology in the world. Not only do our members support the responsible development of oil and gas, but we are integral in the extraction of new energy resources like geothermal and critical minerals. Our workers are at the epicentre of Canada’s energy transformation. Our people, technology and processes are leading the way towards a more diverse energy future. The Alberta Drilling Accelerator is a government-enabled policy approach to expand Alberta’s drilling capacity and reach its full potential as the world’s most diverse and technologically advanced producer and exporter of sustainable energy and critical minerals.”

Mark Scholz, president and CEO, Canadian Association of Energy Contractors

“The Alberta Drilling Accelerator is a testament to Alberta’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. Leveraging our oil and gas sector expertise, Alberta is poised to become the global leader in developing new geothermal technologies that will play an integral role in reducing emissions while supporting job creation.”

Alison Thompson, chair, Canadian Geothermal Energy Association

Quick facts

  • The Canadian Association of Energy Contractors estimates that one active drilling rig, whether drilling for natural gas or geothermal, creates approximately 220 direct and indirect jobs and
    $1 million in tax revenue.
  • In 2019, Eavor received $2 million in provincial funding through Emissions Reduction Alberta and Alberta Innovates for the world’s first closed-loop geothermal system.

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Inner city shoplifting and Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Brian Giesbrecht

This problem is only made worse by gullible writers and politicians who make excuses for the thieves. Their excuse is that these people are disadvantaged, so they are less than fully responsible for their criminal conduct. Some sympathetic souls go even further, and suggest that these indigenous shoplifters are simply taking back what is rightfully theirs as “reparations” because the shop owners are on “stolen land”.

Winnipeg, Manitoba is being hit with an epidemic of shoplifting that appears to be out of control. Thieves openly steal expensive items, such as frozen meat, from inner city food stores. Shelves are stripped bare in what are more accurately described as robberies than shoplifting. Victims describe brazen thefts by entitled thieves who become indignant when caught in the act. One store employee, who tried to stop a theft, was told “You are on Treaty 1 territory”. The stores that are hardest hit are often owned by immigrant families who have worked very hard to build their modest businesses. Some have had to close, as a result of the unchecked criminality, and others will follow.

Police protection is weak. Even in rare cases where culprits are caught and prosecuted, sentences are minimal.

The problem of brazen theft from Winnipeg liquor stores reached such a serious level in the recent past that customers at urban liquor stores in Manitoba are now allowed to enter the store only after lining up single file, and producing identification. Liquor prices have risen as a result, because special government employees must be hired to sit at the door to inspect ID’s. Customers must line up outside, even on the coldest winter days, because freeloaders choose to steal liquor. And everyone – including the police – are too shy to confront the robbers.

Other western cities, such as Regina, Saskatoon and Thunder Bay are having similar problems. Even small cities, such as Wetaskiwin, Alberta, are hard hit.

The common element is that all of these cities and towns have significant indigenous populations who migrated to the cities from largely dysfunctional reserves, where attitudes of dependency, entitlement and victimhood prevail. Most arrive poorly educated, with few job skills, but with an expectation that they will be provided for. They proceed to live rough lives on the mean streets of these cities. Many drift to shoplifting and other crime. The inner city thieves are disproportionately from this demographic.

This problem is only made worse by gullible writers and politicians who make excuses for the thieves. Their excuse is that these people are disadvantaged, so they are less than fully responsible for their criminal conduct. Some sympathetic souls go even further, and suggest that these indigenous shoplifters are simply taking back what is rightfully theirs as “reparations” because the shop owners are on “stolen land”. They argue that these indigenous people are victims of a system that gives them no chance to succeed, or that they are suffering from the “intergenerational trauma” presumably caused by the fact that 1 in 6 indigenous children attended residential schools in the past.

The shoplifters readily adopt these excuses, and claim to be victims of “systemic racism”.

But, wait a minute! Isn’t the Premier of Manitoba, Wab Kinew, indigenous? Isn’t he a successful, law-abiding person? And wouldn’t most indigenous Canadians laugh at the idea that they had to steal to survive? How is it that Wab Kinew, and the many other successful indigenous Canadians manage their lives just fine while the shoplifters cannot?

The answer is that Wab succeeded the way all successful people do. He went to school, worked hard, and went where the jobs are. He was fortunate to have competent, caring parents who understood the importance of education and hard work. His parents also understood that assimilation (or, if you prefer, integration) was essential for their son to succeed. Wab’s father had a rough time in residential school, but used what he learned to raise a son who has become a provincial premier.

 The fact that Kinew is fully assimilated does not prevent him from celebrating his indigenous heritage. Recently, a video of him energetically performing a prairie chicken dance went viral. It showed indigenous youth that they too can be both successful Canadians – and proudly indigenous – at the same time.

It is clear from watching him dancing so vigorously that he would have been a formidable warrior in pre-contact indigenous hunting culture. Colonialism ended that possibility. But it is equally clear that he, and the other indigenous people who were willing to learn the new ways, received a lot in return from the settlers. He is now an articulate, literate, thoroughly modern man, thanks to “settler colonialism”. Colonialism has also given him an expected lifespan more than double that of yesterday’s hunter-gatherers. Colonialism gave at least as much as it took from him.

Kinew’s memoir, “The Reason You Walk” describes someone determined to live his life not as a victim, but as a confident indigenous Canadian.

He built his own life – making mistakes along the way – but learning from those mistakes, and is now the leader of a province – and lauded as a possible future prime minister. He offers no apologies to critics who suggest that an indigenous person who is successful is somehow “selling out” indigenous people. His famous reply to that old saw is “Aboriginal success is the best form of reconciliation”.

Don’t expect to find Wab Kinew stealing frozen hamburger from a Food Fare store anytime soon.

But here’s the lesson indigenous youth can learn from the example Wab Kinew, and other successful indigenous people have set: “If they can do it, so can you”. They should also tell the apologists who want to give them tired excuses – excusing theft as “reparations” for perceived past wrongs, or “intergenerational trauma” – that they, like Wab, refuse to live their lives as “victims”.

In short, the solution to the shoplifting problem is not to condone theft. It is not to treat criminals differently because they are indigenous. It is not to offer them excuses. The solution is to create more Wab Kinews.

And that’s up to Indigenous parents. No government can do that for them. For many families, like Wab’s, that will include the difficult decision to move from dead-end reserves.  But if they have the same commitment to their children’s education and upbringing that Wab’s parents had there is no reason that they can’t raise successful children in this country.

Long before he became Manitoba’s premier, Wab Kinew, regularly entertained listeners on CBC Radio. He was a refreshing, common sense voice, and always refused to play the victim. He never failed to remind young indigenous people that Canada worked just fine for him.

And, with a bit of grit and hard work, it can work for them too.


Brian Giesbrecht, retired judge, is a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

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Scathing auditor general reports underscore political realities

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From the Fraser Institute

By Jake Fuss

Nearly 20 per cent of the SDTC projects examined by the AG were in fact ineligible (based on the government’s own rules) for funding, with a total price tag of $59 million. There were also 90 instances where the SDTC ignored conflict of interest provisions while awarding $76 million to various projects. Indeed, the AG found 63 cases where SDTC agency directors voted in favour of payments to companies in which they had declared interests.

If you needed more proof that the Trudeau government is misusing taxpayer money, the auditor general (AG) just released two scathing reports about improper contracting practices, conflict of interest, and funding provided for ineligible projects. Clearly, politicians and bureaucrats in Ottawa do not always act in the best interest of Canadians.

According to the first AG report, Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), the federal agency responsible for funding green technology projects, demonstrated “significant lapses… in governance and stewardship of public funds.” Nearly 20 per cent of the SDTC projects examined by the AG were in fact ineligible (based on the government’s own rules) for funding, with a total price tag of $59 million. There were also 90 instances where the SDTC ignored conflict of interest provisions while awarding $76 million to various projects. Indeed, the AG found 63 cases where SDTC agency directors voted in favour of payments to companies in which they had declared interests.

The second AG report focused on 97 contracts totalling $209 million awarded by the federal government to the McKinsey & Company consulting firm from 2011 to 2023. According to the AG, the government demonstrated “frequent disregard for procurement policies and guidance and that contracting practices often did not demonstrate value for money.” About 70 per cent of these contracts were awarded non-competitively—meaning no other companies were permitted to bid on the contracts.

These findings also follow an earlier report in February that found the federal government “repeatedly failed to follow good management practices in the contracting, development, and implementation” of the ArriveCAN mobile app, which cost Canadian taxpayers at least $59.5 million.

While the Trudeau government’s record-high levels of spending have made it clear that taxpayer money is being dished out left and right without much regard for the consequences for future generations of Canadians, the AG reports reveal chronic mismanagement, little accountability, and decision-makers acting in their own interests.

Government officials are handing huge sums of taxpayer money to people or companies who spend it without proper transparency or oversight. When considering these findings, Canadians should be skeptical of any politician or commentator who downplays government excesses or says we can’t reduce federal spending.

It’s also naïve to think that politicians and bureaucrats are benevolent civil servants who simply want to make the world a better place. In reality, like most people, they’re human beings motivated by self-interest.

James Buchanan, who won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1986, explained these concepts when pioneering a branch of economics called Public Choice Theory, which pays particular attention to the incentives policymakers face.

Politicians do not always act in the best interest of their constituents, and bureaucrats do not always act in the best interests of the public.

Why? Because it’s often in their interest to make decisions that benefit themselves, family members, friends or other cronies. If you decide to give money to companies despite a conflict of interest or if you award contracts to friends, you’re not making decisions in the best interest of society. People don’t suddenly become selfless when they enter the government sector. They respond to the same incentives as everyone else. The latest AG reports underscore this reality.

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