SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Iceland facilities excite Utah delegation about geothermal possibilities

Jun 13, 2024, 6:10 PM | Updated: Jun 14, 2024, 9:45 am

FRIǑHEIMAR, Iceland — Some state leaders are learning how small geothermal plants could power communities of the future here in Utah. With access to geothermal water from the ground, there is a lot that can be done.

“There’s so many opportunities to grow businesses, to have house heating,” said Marta Rós, managing director of Baseload Power. She showed a Utah delegation what is turning out for them to be a sort of proof of concept.

It’s pumps and generators built on top of a small geothermal well. It may not seem like much, but to the delegation, it was exciting.

“So there are many areas throughout Utah that have hot enough water to be able to produce these small-scale generators,” said Jim Goddard, Utah Division of Water Rights geothermal program manager.

woman in hard hat and yellow safety jacket

The Managing Director of Baseload Power Marta Rós in Iceland speaks to a delegation from Utah about the possibilities of geothermal power. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

With access to geothermal, peppered throughout much of Utah, it’s easy for administrators and lawmakers to see how communities could be built around smaller wells, pulling both heat and electricity.

“This is an example that I think we could very possibly use in the point of the mountain, in that area where we have a blank canvas to create a community around a geothermal resource,” Utah Sen. Scott Sandall said.

The facility the delegation visited serves a nearby town, Friǒheimar. It includes a family-owned business that’s a tomato farm and restaurant, famous for its fresh tomato soup, housed inside massive greenhouses.

Hot water pipes at a geothermal well in Friǒheimar, Iceland, visited by a delegation of Utah leaders on June 12, 2024. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

The farm harvests approximately 2,000 tomatoes a day from approximately 28,000 plants. It can harvest all year, thanks in part to the hot water running through pipes. That’s giving the delegation something to take home, one of the more exciting pieces of the energy tour of Iceland.

“I really think we need to discover if that’s possible and economically viable,” Sandall said.

“There’s nobody here. It just runs remotely,” Goddard said.

At the former site of the Utah State Prison, there is already access to geothermal energy that was used there.

“I think it’s a very possible idea to use a resource that’s there that we basically haven’t tapped into,” Sandall said.

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Iceland facilities excite Utah delegation about geothermal possibilities