Feds providing $25M for geothermal power plant after deepest well in Sask. history drilled

The deepest well in Saskatchewan history has been successfully drilled at the future site of a geothermal power plant near Estevan, Sask., while the federal government announced $25 million in funding.

Company leading the project expects plant to produce electricity in two-and-a-half years

The plant will cost about $51.3 million, with the federal government providing $25.6 million, Saskatchewan contributing $175,000 and Natural Resources Canada putting up $1.35 million. (Exergy)

A geothermal power plant near Estevan, Sask. is moving onto the next phase after a test that saw the deepest well in Saskatchewan history successfully drilled.

The second phase involves having a production well and an injection well running in a loop to help determine the next stage of drilling and other aspects of the plant, according to Kirsten Marcia, president and CEO of DEEP Earth Energy Production Corp.

The test well is 3,530 metres deep and was drilled without any safety or environmental incidents, according to a news release by DEEP.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday — the day after Trudeau held a town hall meeting at the University of Regina — that the federal government will be providing $25.6 million to the project, almost half of the $51.3 million cost.

Kirsten Marcia, president and CEO of DEEP Earth Energy Production Corp., and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau both made announcements regarding a geothermal power plant in Saskatchewan. (Kendall Latimer/CBC)

"We're thrilled to have this confidence in this project to see this forward," said Marcia. "To have this support means that this project will be a success."

She said the plant is being developed using, "world class conventional oil and gas drilling technology, and we're pairing that with an off-the-shelf-surface technology."

DEEP says the plant is a first of its kind in Canada and is expected to produce electricity in two-and-a-half years. DEEP announced in November the project had begun drilling the test well.

Plant to offset 27,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year

Geothermal energy uses steam from hot water under the earth's surface to drive a turbine that produces electricity. 

DEEP says the plant will generate five megawatts of clean energy initially — enough to power about 5,000 houses — but that could increase as time goes on.

A $50-million geothermal power plant under construction near Estevan, Sask. Alberta could have a leg up on geothermal development thanks to the province’s history of oil and gas development. (Submitted by Exergy)

It would also offset 27,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, which is the equivalent of taking about 7,400 cars off the roads.

Natural Resources Canada is putting up $1.35 million toward the project, while the province is contributing $175,000, according to DEEP.

Tina Beaudry-Mellor, minister responsible for Innovation Saskatchewan, said the province has contributed $1 million to the project for pre-emptive studies.

"There's been a long history of involvement with this project from the province of Saskatchewan," she said.

"I couldn't be more pleased to see Ms. Marcia receive this recognition today for a project I think is incredible."

SaskPower signed a power purchase agreement in 2017 as well, which would enable the Crown corporation to buy power from the plant and help reduce emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.


Cory Coleman is a journalist for CBC Saskatchewan.

With files from Kendall Latimer