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Favourability map of British Columbia geothermal resources Kimball, Sarah


British Columbia’s internal demand for power and demand from export operations is increasing the need for power generation in the province. Moreover, the transition to a low carbon economy stipulates that power supply must be from renewable and low emission sources. Geothermal energy offers significant benefits to British Columbia which hosts Canada’s best geothermal resources associated with the Pacific Ring of Fire along the Coast Mountain Range. The objective of this work was to visualize and compare the spatial distribution of geothermal resources, transmission infrastructure, and power markets in BC. Using ArcGIS, these factors were combined into a map identifying the most favourable regions for geothermal development in the province. Multi-criteria evaluation of 10 evidence layers was completed in a knowledge-driven model. Publicly available data for temperature gradient, heat flow, volcanic centers, geothermometry, hot springs, geology, faults, and earthquake indicators comprised the resource factor map. Evidence layers in the market and infrastructure factor map included: distance to transmission, regional pricing, and population density. Evidence layers were assigned weights based on a judgment of their importance to geothermal favourability using the Analytical Hierarchy Process. The favourability map builds on the 1992 Geothermal Resources Map of British Columbia by incorporating new data, and applying spatial buffers based on studies from producing geothermal fields from around the world. The research has demonstrated how economic and infrastructure factors can be integrated into the evaluation of a region’s geothermal resources.

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