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Massive energy source right under our feet

Geothermal energy could supply Canada's energy, but policy-makers have to be willing to explore possibilities

If geothermal energy is the answer to Canada's future energy needs, we should at least know that by now.

But 100 years after the world's first commercial geothermal power plant was built in Italy in 1911, we don't.

The concept of tapping the earth's crust for the heat contained within and converting it to electrical energy is neither new nor radical.

Yet those in the Canadian geothermal business say they are viewed with skepticism when promoting the potential to tap "hot rocks" close to the surface in western and northern Canada.

Here's hoping a new report released recently by a team of 12 scientists, led by Stephen Grasby at the federal Geological Survey of Canada, might throw a spotlight on research that has the potential to radically change Canada's energy landscape.

The report claims Canada is sitting on top of geothermal energy equivalent to one million times its current electrical consumption.

If this is true, one has to ask why the heck we aren't pouring resources into unlocking the earth's heat rather than considering projects like the Site C dam, the cost of which is already guessed to have almost tripled from its original $3 billion estimate.

Yes, tapping thermal energy will require deep-drilling technology and some sort of fracking, but so does modern oil and gas drilling.

Let's hope our federal and provincial governments will see the sense in supporting immediate research into the long-term cost-effectiveness of both forms of energy extraction.