Yukon considers geothermal power from hot springs

Yukon hot springs could become more than a place to relax — they could be used to generate power. A new research project will map out potential sites and examine their feasibility for geothermal electricity production.

Takhini Hot Pools is one of many sites being considered as part of a two-year project

The manager of the Takhini Hot Pools estimates there are 12 hot springs in the Yukon. (Takhini Hot Pools/Facebook)

Water at the Takhini hot springs emerges warm enough for bathers to soak outdoors — even in Yukon winters.

Now the hot springs could be used to generate electricity. 

Researchers are set to study Yukon's fault lines and hot springs to examine their feasibility as sources of geothermal power. Takhini Hot Pools is one of the sites to be examined as part of the two-year, $168,000 project. 

Gary Umbrich, president of Takhini Hot Springs Ltd, the company that maintains the hot pools, says he'd like to look at power generation but needs to learn more about geothermal energy. 

Gary Umbrich, president of Takhini Hot Springs Ltd, says he'd like to look at power generation from the hot springs but needs to learn more about geothermal energy. (CBC)
"That's one of the reasons we're so interested in this new study that's being proposed. We really think this could kick-start more geothermal work in Yukon," he says.

Takhini Hot Springs is investing in the project as a private partner alongside the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association, the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and the Yukon government. 

"There has to be a little more research trying to locate the fault lines underground and determine where are the best places to drill," Umbrich says. 

"We're probably looking at a kilometre deep and probably four or five million dollars to drill a well. So that's something the private sector's not going to do until they have a lot more information."

Yukon does not currently generate electricity from geothermal power but Umbrich estimates there are at least 12 known hot springs in the territory and could be many more yet unknown.

'A clean and renewable resource'

Yukon Minister of Energy Scott Kent says the territory could benefit from geothermal energy, which he calls a "clean and renewable resource."

"This project could lead to Yukon using geothermal power for residents as well as industrial clients such as mining companies who are currently undertaking exploration work in the territory." 

Yukon MP Ryan Leef says a final map with the potential sites will be delivered in the spring of 2016. He promised the data will be made public and will address the "economic, social and environmental feasibility," of geothermal projects. 

Thursday's announcement doesn't mean there will be new research on the ground — at least not right away. 

Cathy Cottrell with Yukon's energy branch says territorial officials will soon meet with the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association to discuss plans for the project. (CBC)
Cathy Cottrell with Yukon's energy branch says it means compiling existing data.

"We're going to incorporate everything that people will give us," she says. "We've got all the work the Yukon Geological Survey has done. We've got a partnership with Takhini Hot Springs resort. We have existing oil well data — there are about 70 or 80 explorations wells we can get data from. Our water well database is another source of information."

Cottrell said Yukon government officials will soon be meeting with the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association to discuss plans.  


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?