ENVIRONMENT

Utah delegation studies future geothermal potential in Iceland

Jun 10, 2024, 4:42 PM | Updated: 6:38 pm

REYKJAVÍK, Iceland — More than a dozen Utah leaders visited Iceland to understand better how the country uses geothermal and renewable energy, intending to bring that knowledge to the Beehive State.

“Iceland is the capital of geothermal. It’s everything on the island is pretty much revolves around geothermal energy,” said Jim Goddard, the geothermal program manager for Utah’s Division of Water Rights.

Goddard and the other Utahns listened and networked with a number of experts in the industry and in government on Monday.

“We have a great capacity where we can certainly increase our power production and other geothermal uses by 10, 20%, easily in the next decade,” Goddard said.

Utah delegates meeting with an Icelandic official about geothermal energy.

Utah delegates meeting with an Icelandic official about geothermal energy. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

He said witnessing a geothermal well and compression station that gets heat to about 2,000 homes a year is encouraging for what Utah could do with its geothermal energy.

“As we look at expansion, whether it’s residential or commercial in the state. There’s a real demand for energy,” said Ryan Starks, the executive director of Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity.

Starks said Iceland often shares its knowledge with other governments, as 100% of its energy comes from renewable sources.

“I think geologically, Utah is obviously ready for a geothermal revolution. I think you have the know-how; you have the drilling expertise,” said Steinar Jonsson, a legal advisor for Iceland’s energy team.

A geothermal well in Iceland that the Utah delegation visited. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

Utah already produces a small amount of geothermal power, said Goddard, with two plants looking to expand in the near future. And the Utah delegation is looking for answers on how to take that further as growth and changing federal regulations demand it.

“They’re energy-independent from the rest of the world. I think that’s an enviable position to have,” said Utah state Sen. Scott Sandall, R-Tremonton. “So I want to obviously look for those items, those opportunities that we have in Utah to become more energy independent.”

The delegation is spending the week taking a broad look at why geothermal plays a central role in Iceland’s culture and where it could play a bigger role in Utah’s everyday lives, from power to the economy to even growing produce year-round.

A view of Iceland's capital city, Reykjavík, where the Utah delegation visited to learn more about geothermal and renewable energy.

A view of Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavík, where the Utah delegation visited to learn more about geothermal and renewable energy. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

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Utah delegation studies future geothermal potential in Iceland