A new hotel in downtown Charlottetown is tapping into the earth to handle a large portion of its energy needs.
The five-well system, the largest so far on P.E.
I., will provide heat in the winter, air conditioning in the summer and hot water for the 82-room hotel.
"The long-term cost, of geothermal systems, when we look at both the operating costs and the capital costs, is probably one of the most economical systems we can use today," said project manager Cliff Campbell.
Geothermal systems are not only economical, they are also environmentally friendly. Instead of using fossil fuels to heat in the winter and electric air conditioners in the summer, the hotel will take heat out of the ground in winter, and put it back in the summer.
For this hotel, being built by Homburg Properties, there will be three supply wells on the far side of Grafton Street and two return wells on the near side. They will go down 80 metres, with 682 litres of water a minute pumping through the system.
These will be salt water wells, with the water circulating to carry the energy and exchange heat.
"It's a closed loop," said Campbell.
"What comes out of the ground, there's no way of taking any water off it. We just take the energy out of it, and put the same amount [of water] back in the ground again."
This will be the Island's largest geothermal energy system, but it is far from the only one. Homburg is putting one into a new office building a few blocks away from the hotel. The CARI pool on the UPEI campus also uses geothermal energy.
Geothermal systems are becoming more popular with homeowners as well.
Drilling for the hotel project should be finished next week. The hotel is scheduled to open in the spring of 2011.