The Petroleum Technology Research Centre announced it will be funding a University of Regina research project looking at geothermal heat and the integration of different energy sources at a proposed greenhouse complex in Estevan.

The project will see the university working with start-up First Nation’s company Evolution Growers on a three-tiered research program:

1. Exploring medium-to-high-temperature geothermal reservoirs in Saskatchewan with careful engineering design and implementation, to secure a long-term sustainable energy process at the Evolution Growers’ site.

2. Develop a tool to assist in determining geothermal energy conversion and delivery configurations that would maximize the energy efficiency of operations.

3. Provide a cost-effective and resilient integrated energy system to integrate and utilize the geothermal, solar, wind, and battery energy storage at the site.

“The greenhouses will tap varying energy sources for our heating and lighting,” notes Derrick Big Eagle, a FirstNations entrepreneur and owner of Evolution Growers. “There aren’t many commercial greenhouse operations between Winnipeg and Alberta, and the demand is high for fresh vegetables and produce grown locally. It’s not just the use of clean energy to power the greenhouses, but also the reduction in transportation emissions we can achieve by growing more of our produce here that makes this project so environmentally efficient.”

U of R scientists from three different engineering schools will be contributing know-how and research to the project.

“What’s also exciting about this research project is that the skills and talents of professors, graduate students, and postdocs in areas of research that have previously focused primarily on hydrocarbon resources are directly applicable – and necessary – in the emerging energy field,” notes Kathy McNutt, Vice-President Research at U of R.

The two-year research budget is $240,000, with PTRC’s $60,000 being supported by an additional $180,000 by Mitacs, a nonprofit national research organization.