Many Canadians who hear the words geothermal energy typically think of countries like Iceland and New Zealand, nations with well-publicised geothermal energy programs powered by localized volcanic activity. However, the availability of geothermal energy is much larger than these two well-known samples.
In fact, geothermal-powered electricity production is currently found in over two-dozen nations, and geothermal heating is utilised in 70 countries around the globe.
Borealis Geothermal is an Alberta-based company looking to bring geothermal energy to the forefront of Canada's conversation around renewable energy sources. Founded in 2007, Borealis has been working on geothermal pilot projects across the country for several years. One of the company's key goals is to create demand for the development and implementation of geothermic energy solutions in Canada.
Borealis has spent much of its efforts on creating industrial heating and cooling applications fueled by geothermic power. It is a calculated strategy designed to raise the profile of geothermic energy and encourage a more determined transition from carbon-based fuels.
The architect of this ambitious plan is Borealis President and CEO Alison Thompson. Thompson earned her Masters of Engineering degree and entered the traditional hydrocarbon energy industry, gaining valuable experience that would eventually transfer over to the pursuit of a new energy sector.
Thompson cites a fateful event that inspired her to consider (and eventually become a champion for) geothermal energy: witnessing Old Faithful's geyser eruption of super-heated water during a visit to Yellowstone Park—an impactful display that led her to consider the viability of geothermal energy in Canada.
Thompson's vision has been a 15-year journey to translate awareness of geothermal energy's potential into fully-realized action. In our interview, she talks about the use of pipelines in geothermal energy solutions, and how Borealis' pipelines are met "with parades, not protests."
When asked about why she chose to base Borealis in Alberta, Thompson talked about the ready availability of workers in our province who already have the necessary talent and skill sets. The transition from working on petroleum-based projects to geothermal energy implementations is not as difficult as some might think.
That said, Borealis maintains some unique characteristics for an energy company, including its certification as a B Corporation which it achieved in 2017. B Corps are businesses which establish and maintain the highest standards for both social and environmental impact while still providing value to shareholders and stakeholders.
A guiding principle for Borealis is the environment does not, nor should not, be sacrificed in the name of profitability. Borealis' senior leadership have made it a priority to function as a business that compliments the social and environmental spheres, rather than being adversarial towards them.
Watch the video with Borealis President and CEO Alison Thompson!