Roundtable to explore potential of geothermal energy

Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Station
The Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Station is the second-largest geothermal power station in Iceland.

An Oct. 17 roundtable discussion will drill deep into the promise of geothermal energy at a time when Cornell is considering a groundbreaking project of its own. It is the latest event organized by the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies on the future of renewable energy and is co-organized by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and co-sponsored by the Cornell Energy Institute. The roundtable will take place at 4:30 p.m. at 255 Olin Hall.

“The Potential of Geothermal Energy: Lessons from Iceland” will feature a keynote address by Thorleikur Johannesson, an engineer with more than 20 years of experience designing and operating geothermal facilities in Iceland, where underground heat generates more than one-fourth of all electricity and provides nearly 90 percent of the heat for buildings and houses.

Johannesson will be joined by Kyu-Jung Whang, Cornell vice president for infrastructure, properties and planning, and Edwin A. (Todd) Cowen, professor of civil and environmental engineering. Moderators will be Hirokazu Miyazaki, director of the Einaudi Center, and Jefferson W. Tester, the Croll Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and director of the Cornell Energy Institute.

Inspired in large part by Iceland’s example, Whang, Cowen, Tester and others at Cornell are looking into the feasibility of using geothermal energy to generate electricity and heat buildings on the university’s Ithaca campus. It would be the first project of its kind in the United States.

In November 2014, the Einaudi Center, the Atkinson Center and the Cornell Energy Institute co-hosted the then-president of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, who spoke about the benefits of a clean-energy economy. A video of his talk and an article in the Cornell Chronicle are available here.

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