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Canada's Choice: Clean Geothermal or Dirty Tar Sands - Sierra Daily

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Sierra Daily

Sep 19, 2011

Canada's Choice: Clean Geothermal or Dirty Tar Sands

Canada geothermal 
On top of rescuing the economy and shoring up his position with his base, President Obama is mulling whether to OK the leaking, disastrous Keystone XL pipeline, which would transect the United States to bring dirty Canadian tarsands oil from Alberta to refineries in Texas. Our aggressively nice neighbors to the North, it turns out, did not have to go this route. A new study by the Geological Survey of Canada reveals that the country has enormous amounts of untapped geothermal power--a million times more, in fact, than Canada's current electrical consumption.

The map above (click for larger version) illustrates the widespread nature of this resource (specifically here, geothermal energy at a depth of 6-to-7 kilometers). The report finds that geothermal power is "broadly distributed across Canada," that the environmental impacts of its development would be relatively minor compared to other energy sources, and that its "high capacity factor" (i.e., its ability to produce consistent levels of energy over time) "makes geothermal energy particularly attractive as a renewable base load energy supply."

At present, Canada has no geothermal electricity production, so there's nowhere to go but up. Canada has a choice: It could be a world leader in clean energy, or the world's chief global warmer. If you'd like to have a say in whether the Keystone XL pipeline gets built, the State Department is holding nine public hearings across the country starting September 26; see the schedule here.   

--Paul Rauber

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