Williams Engineering (WE) was part of the team of experts hired by the City of Yellowknife to conduct a feasibility study for the use of warm groundwater for building heating. The groundwater is in the process of filling up the soon to be decommissioned Con Mine, one of the gold mines that put Yellowknife on the map.
Led by a mining expert from University of British Columbia (UBC), the team analyzed the factors including:
- The underground mine heat availability and sustainability
- The possible districts within Yellowknife where this type of low grade heat could be best used
- The technologies and equipment – including high temperature heat pumps – that would be required to make the system work
- The distribution system above ground that would make a possible district energy system work for Yellowknife.
By the final phase of the study, the team honed in on the downtown core as the most economic recipient for district heating from Con Mine groundwater and incorporated back-up biomass boilers into a schematic design for a sustainable system to provide heating to downtown buildings. Although the costs appeared quite high compared to current energy costs, the technical feasibility was affirmed and the concept may be incorporated into a sustainable energy future for Yellowknife.