Editor’s note: Click here to read our conversation with Lisa Mueller, president and CEO of FutEra Power, on issues surrounding the energy transition and what kind of leadership is needed.
Leadership often means venturing where no one has ventured before — taking risks that are carefully calculated by blending innovation and practicality.
Earlier this year, with the backing of parent company Razor Energy Corp. and under the leadership of CEO and president Lisa Mueller, FutEra Power took the first bold steps toward Canada’s first co-produced geothermal and natural gas hybrid power project.
Its first phase will produce up to five megawatts of emission-less green electricity at its Swan Hills facility. It’s a hybrid design to boost that project’s output to 21 megawatts once a natural gas turbine is added to optimize geothermal production.
In an energy transition context, FutEra Power is charting a sustainable energy pathway that could reshape the way legacy oil and gas assets are re-engineered, re-imagined and repurposed: capturing the energy within the earth-heated hot water it produces, and re-injecting it as part of its conventional operations and producing electricity in the process.
Such co-production means a range of benefits — not the least of which is two forms of energy from one production facility and related gathering, processing and distribution infrastructure. As a result, the economics are more predictable.
The renewable geothermal energy is also baseload, thus not burdened by the intermittency problems faced by other renewable energy sources.
In the context of Alberta’s growing geothermal sector, the FutEra model sets itself apart in that it is truly transitional within one operational framework — by directly linking the inherent value in conventional oil and gas operations to a future baseload energy source.
That the FutEra model has attracted federal and provincial backing via innovative partnerships — Natural Resources Canada, Alberta Innovates and Emissions Reduction Alberta — also underscores its leadership dimensions, noted Mueller.
"My first visit to the Swan Hills field turned my view of our daily operations upside-down. When I laid my hand on pipeline that was too hot to hold, my whole paradigm shifted,” she said. “I like to look at the abstract, the negative space if you will, for a ‘gap’ to fill. That revelation was that I was touching earth heat, and renewable geothermal energy. Innovation is just a matter of working the challenge, building on traditional best practices and adding the technology twist,” explained Mueller.
“I love the story of it all. The most pleasant part is the willingness of the whole community to listen and contribute to this new way of doing this. In particular, and of note, is the collaboration with all the regulatory agencies to forge a new path for industry. There are endless possibilities as we build FutEra into a leading sustainable energy company.”