Gibsons is the first municipally-owned district energy utility of its kind in North America.
The earth produces renewable energy in the form of ground-source heat and geo-exchange is a method of harnessing heat energy for use in homes and businesses. The Gibsons Geo-exchange District Energy Utility (GDEU) is a municipal energy utility project that will capture renewable energy from in-ground heat exchangers located on municipally-owned greenspace. The GDEU will reduce energy consumption, reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions and provide long-term economic benefits to the Gibsons area
The Utility is operated as a district heating facility owned by the municipality and is the first of its kind in North America. A series of coils buried two metres beneath public greenspace are filled with an ethanol/water mix to absorb heat and deliver it from a central pumphouse to connected buildings where heat pumps extract the heat. The first GDEU field launched in 2009, serves 36 homes of the Parkland subdivision with a projected build-out of 140 homes. A second field, constructed in 2012 at Brothers Park, services the Town’s new RCMP facility. Future development may tap into either existing field. At full build-out, it will service approximately 25% of the town’s population, and result in energy savings of more than 60%, and greenhouse gas reductions of more than 90%.
Completed in 2013, the environmental footprint of the Gibson’s community has been reduced through the GDEU and home owners and business operators benefit with lower-cost heating. In the long term, the Utility creates non-taxation revenue for the Town through economic development as a result of direct infrastructure investment.
The technology used has positioned Gibsons as a leader and innovator in alternative energy and it has garnered attention from academics, realtors and municipalities interested in replicating the renewable energy utility model.