Exploring the potential of geothermal energy

  • 2010•11•19     Tokyo

    On 16 November 2010, UNU Headquarters in Tokyo hosted the “Japan Iceland Geothermal Forum 2010”. The event was co-organized by UNU, the Embassy of Iceland in Tokyo, the Japan Energy Association, the Icelandic Chamber of Commerce in Japan, and the Thermal and Nuclear Power Engineering Society.

    This forum was intended, as Icelandic Ambassador to Tokyo Stefán Lárus Stefánsson noted, to balance both technical and financial considerations of the great potential for geothermal energy, particularly as a key element in the global strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    In his keynote address, H.E. Mr. Össur Skarphéðinsson, the Icelandic Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, highlighted the great similarities between Japan and Iceland as geothermal nations situated where natural resources may be used to provide for an increasing proportion of national energy output. The Minister predicted that geothermal energy may play a greater role in future world energy production.

    Specifically, he said, nations have yet to take full advantage of new natural resources in providing geothermal power. Emerging technologies — for example, the deep drilling technology that is currently being developed in Iceland — have the potential to further increase power yields. Many countries currently have untapped geothermal power potential. The region of East Africa, for instance, could greatly benefit from deep drilling to help close the existent energy gap and provide electricity to those currently without it. As the Minister declared, “the age of the geothermal is just beginning”.

    Morning and afternoon sessions introduced attendees to the numerous practical concerns of implementing geothermal power through case studies and panel discussions. These sessions focused on what both Iceland and Japan may do to take advantage of geothermal power individually, as well as on ways in which energy companies of the two countries could increase cooperation to facilitate further research and development into geothermal technology.

    In his closing remarks, Mr. Haraldur Flosi Tryggvason, Chairman of Reykjavik Energy, emphasized the utmost importance for this cooperation in the years to come for both the private and public sectors of the two countries.