NS currently uses only a fraction of its geothermal potential

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N.-É. is only using a fraction of its geothermal potential at the moment

Since the end of the coal mining era, Springhill has struggled, but geothermal energy is attracting new businesses to the area.

A new study is to explore how to expand the use of buried geothermal energy at a Cumberland County mine, with the goal of eventually tapping that same energy into other parts of the province.

The former Springhill Coal Mine is a vast underground complex that reaches depths of over four kilometers.

The mine closed in 1958 after a series of deadly disasters and naturally filled with water, which is heated by the earth's core.

For decades, this source of geothermal energy has been harnessed to heat businesses, an arena and part of the Springhill Community College campus.

Cumberland County Mayor Murray Scott sits in the Springhill Municipal Arena, which uses geothermal energy to heat the ground in the stands around the rink.

Beneath this community there are only mine workings for miles, says Cumberland County Municipality Mayor Murray Scott. Everything is full of water, so the potential of this resource is limitless.

A few thick gray pipes bring water from the mine to the floors of the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) and to a mechanical room right next to the arena.

A thermometer shows the temperature of water drawn from the old Springhill Coal Mine to heat the community arena.

At the college, energy is used to heat the laboratory where the refrigeration, air conditioning and geothermal program is established, while at the arena, pipes laid in the cement floor of the stands surrounding the ice rink help keep the air a little warmer for spectators.

The college currently has access to approximately 20 meters deep water, which is around 10o C, but the Springhill mine goes much deeper.

The deeper the water, the warmer it is and the more efficient it becomes at heating a building, says Darrin Embree, an instructor in NSCC's geothermal program.

Nova Scotia Community College teacher Darrin Embree checks out the geothermal system at the Springhill Community Center.

The college administration hopes that one day the entire campus will be heated with geothermal energy.

A few years ago, a study was carried out on the possibility of running a pipe on Main Street, Springhill, which would provide geothermal heat to businesses along the stretch, but the project was deemed too expensive.

This time around, Murray Scott has high hopes for the $80,000 provincially funded study. He hopes the research, which is expected to take about a year, will lead to the development of a pilot project with commercial potential, such as a greenhouse.

If there is a moment is now. Now is the perfect time.

Murray Scott says with global concern over carbon footprints and attention to alternative energy, now is the time. come to explore the geothermal potential of Cumberland County.

Natural Resources and Renewable Energy Minister Tory Rushton is eager to see where the study will lead, not just for his county of Cumberland, but for the entire province.

Tory Rushton is MPP for Cumberland South and Minister of Natural Resources and Renewable Energy.

If we can do the research here and expand it across the province I think that's a benefit to all of us, he says.

Nova Scotia is dotted with old underground mines, many of which have geothermal potential. There are other hotspots in the Cumberland County, Stellarton, Western Cape Breton, Sydney, Antigonish, Shubenacadie and Kennetcook areas.

< p class="e-p">Geothermal is just a tiny fraction of Nova Scotia's energy supply right now, but the minister believes geothermal could be important to the future. x27;future.

There are still goals to be set after 2030, argues the minister. You have to set new goals as you progress and learn.

With information from Frances Willick, from CBC

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