Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie alley could get geothermal heating

Some residents in Montreal's ​Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie neighbourhood could one day heat their houses with geothermal energy, if a pilot project generated by a group of keen neighbours gets off the ground.

Borough will contribute $10K towards a feasibility study for pilot project initiated by local residents

How does geothermal heating work?

6 years ago
Duration 1:00
Bertrand Fouss, who is spearheading a geothermal project in his Montreal neighbourhood, explains how it would work.

Some residents in Montreal's ​Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie neighbourhood could one day heat their houses with geothermal energy, rather than electricity or gas, if a pilot project is a success.

The idea came from a group of like-minded residents in La Petite-Patrie who've worked together in the Green Alley — or Ruelle Verte — program. 

We had this general knowledge about different possibilities, and it came quite naturally,- Bertrand Fouss, General Manager of Solon 

They organize neighbourhood events in the shared common space behind their homes, including movie screenings and book exchanges. 

After spending some time working together, the neighbours realized they could do something on a much larger scale with their alleyway, which is sandwiched between Chabot Street to the west, Bordeaux Street to the east, Beaubien Street East to the north and Bellechasse Street to the south.

"At one point the discussion was: Could we be more clever from an energy, from a mobility point of view?" said Bertrand Fouss, who is spearheading the pilot project.

Fouss and one of his neighbours both work in the field of alternative energy solutions.

"We had this general knowledge about different possibilities, and it came quite naturally ... to think about district heating," Fouss said.

The citizens created a company called Solon. Headed by Fouss, Salon came up with a proposal — dubbed Celsius — and it has received the thumbs-up from the borough.

Borough mayor François Croteau called the project "innovative" and said it's the type of idea he'd like to see more of.

Geothermal wells access heat deep below surface

This Green Alley, or Ruelle Verte, between Chabot and Bordeaux streets in Montreal, could one day have a geothermal heating network buried deep beneath the ground. (CBC)

The idea is to install geothermal wells about 200 metres beneath the alleyway. Horizontal pipes would carry water, heated by geothermal energy, to the houses of anyone who wants to participate.

Fouss says heating with geothermal energy would reduce the emission of greenhouse gases while also reducing residents' heating bills.

While the main focus of Celsius is to produce heat using geothermal energy, it could potentially be used to store energy captured by solar panels as well.

An illustration shows how pipes would carry water, heated by geothermal energy, to nearby homes. (Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie)

A feasibility study on the project is expected to get underway in September, at a cost of about $100,000. 

Croteau said his administration would contribute $10,000 towards the study. 

Solon is seeking another $50,000 from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and the rest of the funding is to come from various partners which haven't yet been confirmed.

If all goes as planned, and the project gets the go-ahead, the whole project could be finished in two or three years.

The size of the geothermal network is not yet decided, but Croteau said he hopes to see the pilot project expanded to a larger scale at some point.

Pascal Sanchez, who lives a few doors down from Fouss, said he'll definitely be signing up once the network is in place.

"I think as a citizen we have to support this kind of project," he said.