Geothermal energy in Fort Nelson First Nation



Written by: Rebecca Swanson, Western Canada Manager

Fort Nelson First Nation, located in northeastern British Columbia, is building the first geothermal electricity facility, Tu Deh-Kah Geothermal, in the province.  The facility will produce power to provide electricity for approximately 10,000 homes. It’s being built on the depleted Clarke Lake Natural Gas field. Tu Deh-Kah Geothermal is a 100% Indigenous-owned renewable energy project and is expected to be completed in early 2025.

Relay team members Wesley Normington, Rebecca Swanson and Allison Bradbeer had the chance to spend four days in Fort Nelson First Nation in late November 2021. Relay was asked to provide education in partnership with Tu Deh-Kah Geothermal and Barkley Project Group, which was a great opportunity for us to design and launch a geothermal workshop for youth.

It was a balmy -26 degrees when we landed at Northern Rockies Regional Airport, which is outside Fort Nelson, the northernmost centre in B.C. We had descended into full Canadian winter, and were going to spend our time talking about heat.

We spent two days in Chalo School, working with students from grades 1 through 11. On our first day we delivered two geothermal workshops, for grades 5/6 and then for 10/11. In this workshop, we outlined the basics of geothermal energy, followed by a hands-on experiment where students built their own thermal exchange. In this experiment students begin by running water, then rubbing alcohol through warmer water using series of tubes and measuring temperature changes.

The second day students participated in solar energy workshops with grades 3-5. We also ran a solar car design challenge with the older students. There were creative solar car models, including one party bus, complete with tiny passengers.

We had an extra day, so the Relay team was able to take a day trip to the Liard River Hotsprings Provincial Park to experience geothermal energy firsthand. It was a gift to be able to explore the beautiful area, and experience the natural powers of earth’s heat as we soaked in the hot spring pools.

We are looking forward to returning to Fort Nelson First Nation in 2022 and excited to see more development of geothermal projects across Canada.