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Quebec regulation, borehole permeability research among geothermal developments


January 18, 2016
By Ground Water Canada

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Ground Water Canada spoke with Denis Tanguay, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian GeoExchange Coalition about recent developments in the geothermal industry.

“The market follows the economy. In provinces where the economy is doing well, we see more commercial projects,” Tanguay said.

The current low price of natural gas is against development in the residential sector, he noted.

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He described the commercial sector as “slow and steady.” In regions where natural gas is not available, however, the market is quite strong for commercial jobs, he added.

Quebec came up with a new regulation last year that removes references to the C448 Binational Standard for the Design/Installation of Geothermal Ground Heat Pumps with the goal of building in some flexibility.

“The reasoning from the provincial government’s perspective was that they didn’t want to be stuck with a standard that was rigid. They wanted the flexibility to upgrade and make changes as they see fit,” he said.

The province has untethered itself from the CSA standard, which Tanguay said can change frequently.

For example, under the new regulation, the province can make decisions such as its recent move to ban the use of methanol and switch to ethanol. Ontario had already banned its use, Tanguay said, so it made sense to do so in Quebec.

Another recent development relates to the quality of the grout mix in borehole construction, Tanguay said. The C448 standard does not provide a detailed explanation of, for example, the amount of water or bentonite to be used in a grout mixture. “The standard is quiet on that,” he said. “Those mixing the grout are asked to follow the recipe, but they don’t necessarily understand the consequences of not following it.”

The Canadian Geo-Exchange coalition has taken a step to remedy this knowledge gap by commissioning research on permeability and made several observations relating to permeability and its effect on heat loss. Sixty samples were taken over three months and a report commissioned. The CGC will disseminate the information at a later date.


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