Thinking outside of the geothermal box

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The geothermal industry is in full transition. We are still feeling the effects  of the end of subsidies in Canada – especially in the residential sector. New factors could create substantial opportunities, with possible concerted efforts between the government, businesses and municipalities; this industry is poised to become an important economic generator in the coming years.

Over the past years, the geothermal industry has gradually developed within a difficult context largely influenced by:

  1. IImportant initial cost of this solution compared to other alternatives or the status quo;
  2. Limited financial capacity of households and the difficulty to obtain financing from banks preventing investment with the goal of operating cost savings;
  3. An industry largely dependent on subsidies which are often complex making them inaccessible and difficult to follow;
  4. Insufficient volumes (“niche”) that have little or few advantages for the industry players to be specialized. Several firms specializing in geothermal have ceased operations in recent years, the remaining firms managed to survive by staying active in other air conditioning and heating sectors.

And yet, several factors are presently emerging to contribute more than ever to the relevance of focusing on a strong and job creating geothermal industry. The situation is starting to change:

  1. Across the globe, clean “green” energies are booming;
  2. The price of geothermal alternatives such as oil or gas is unstable and doomed to increases in the short or medium term;
  3. The creation of the GéoCité® program by Canadian Geo-Exchange Coalition encourages initiatives from municipalities that are getting involved in the development of the geothermal sector;
  4. The development of innovative business models like the one that I want to talk about in this blog, allowing mass deployment of geothermal as an energy solution now & for years to come.

A small grassroots company called Marmott Énergies Inc. is quickly becoming a new partner for the geothermal industry.

Lethbridge---Mai-2014[1]Marmott Énergies is a geo-producer and supplier of geothermal energy systems. Through its innovative business model, Marmott Énergies offers an energy solution to homeowner’s by installing geothermal systems for which they retain ownership.

Marmott covers the cost of the system and its installation, thus developing the geothermal market by making it available to customers who could not otherwise undertake such an investment.

To better understand, I have interviewed Nathalie H. Tremblay, President & Founder of Marmott Énergies:

Marc Bélanger (MB): How did you come up with the idea of starting Marmott Énergies?

Nathalie H. Tremblay (NHT): Marmott Énergies is the natural progression of my career and convictions. I am very sensitive to the environment and I have spent my entire career in the corporate world. Indeed, after fifteen years in the finance and investment sector, among other things as manager of the environmental sector of a venture capital company, I had the opportunity to manage two companies facing various challenges. These experiences have reinforced my belief that companies could, and should, be the driving force towards environmental change.

Marmott Énergies is born from the idea that geothermal is to the ground, what hydro-electricity is to rivers: a method for transforming & moving earth’s energy into usable heating or cooling for buildings.

MB: Why geothermal?

NHT: I’ve always been interested in the energy sector. In college, we were told that oil reserves would only suffice for fifty more years. It was obviously before the shale gas extraction techniques were developed, but it was also before the public was made aware of global warming.

So I kept informed throughout my career and in 2006, I started researching alternative energies. Geothermal was well known at the time, but its growth was slow, despite interesting subsidies. Most homeowners do not have the budget to invest such sums on their heating system, as good as it may be. So this is the market that I targeted and my business model was developed to answer this need.

MB: Do you have your own refrigeration specialists, drillers and installers?

NHT: No. There are many skilled installers, drillers and refrigeration specialists in the industry. I prefer having partnerships with them and maintaining a growing relationship. It is a win-win situation.

MB: What is your vision of energy and of geothermal energy in the future?

NHT: Each form of energy should be used where it is most logical and ecological in the long term. In terms of heating and air conditioning for buildings & because of the durability of systems, we choose the energy source for many decades (be it electricity, gas, oil, etc…).

Geothermal energy offers a long-term solution to replace oil (& we can use oil where it is most useful, i.e. in transportation) and to use electricity and gas as an energy lever. Do more with less, for a greener planet is what drives Marmott Énergies!

Ce message est également disponible en : French

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