How do we adapt technology and harness local resources to boost the performance of geothermal systems in northern communities? That question is central to the work of the Northern geothermal potential research chair —one of three new chairs recently created by Institut nordique du Québec (INQ). The chair holder, Professor Jasmin Raymond of INRS’s Eau Terre Environnement Research Centre, will assess the performance of geothermal systems in cold climates to help bring green energy to northern communities.
North of the 49th parallel, petroleum products are the main source of heat and electricity, a situation that comes at a high financial and environmental cost. Developing underutilized geothermal resources and technologies offers a rare alternative for continuous heat production in northern climates, with the added bonus of reducing greenhouse gases.
“Fostering the development of this environmentally friendly alternative energy source will require new knowledge—not just to find out if we can expand the use of geothermal systems to northern Québec, but also to perfect the design and operating procedures of northern geothermal systems installed in a permafrost area.”Jasmin Raymond, hydrogeologist
Mr. Raymond‘s research projects will draw on field, lab, and modelling work in geology, hydrogeology, and mechanical engineering to focus on two northern regions with distinct energy supply profiles: the mines and villages connected to a distribution system, primarily in the James Bay area, and the Aboriginal villages served by off-grid systems in Nord-du-Québec. Research will be carried out in collaboration with scientists from Québec, France, and Iceland as well as industry partners.
Training highly qualified staff capable of addressing energy and environmental challenges in the North is one of the positive spinoffs expected of the Northern geothermal potential research chair. In addition to fostering the sustainable development of northern communities and natural resources, efficient geothermal systems could open the door to local greenhouse fruit and vegetable production.
INQ is a centre of Québec expertise in the fields of northern and Arctic research aimed at fostering the sustainable development of the North. The cornerstone of this initiative was a far-reaching alliance between Université Laval, McGill University, Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), and numerous other public, private, and academic partners, as well as the aboriginal communities that live in northern Québec. INQ takes an inclusive, collaborative, and multi-disciplinary approach to addressing the complex challenges of northern development.