2020 Geothermal Design Challenge

ISE students Nicholas Fry and Benjamin Smith secure third place in US Department of Energy contest



REYKJAVIK, May 22 - This year the 2020 Geothermal Design Challenge™: GIS Mapping Student Competition was hosted by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). This event challenged students to use geographic information system (GIS) mapping to identify opportunities for geothermal development. 

Iceland School of Energy is proud to have students Nicholas Fry and Benjamin Smith (2021) compete in this challenge. The pair was asked to work as a team to formulate an informative poster that highlighted the geothermal potential of a region in the US. Their hard work paid off as they were one of the finalists selected by a panel of judges, finishing third. 


The goal of this project was simple as Benjamin Smith stated, "We had to show how to find potential locations for low temperature geothermal and then explain what makes a good resource." The region they chose to focus on was Glenwood Springs, Colorado particularly because geothermal exploration and usage here would reduce energy consumption in areas that can use district heating. The pair used QGIS for mapping as well as a program called GEOPHIRES for the resource modeling, and then Blender to create a 3D model. Ultimately, as Nicholas explains, it was found that, "Glenwood Springs has the ability to easily tap into this resource, however, much work is needed to restructure around direct use heating." 

All the projects submitted were judged based on cartographic design, analytical depth, and creativity and innovation. Nicholas and Ben's project was one of the five finalists chosen by the panel of judges. When asked what he felt he had gained from this project, Sharing a mutual sentiment, Benjamin states, 

I feel I now have a better understanding of how and where to use low temperature geothermal. If we can find sources of low temperature geothermal, there is a lot of potential for reducing our energy consumption.

Congratulations to Nicholas and Benjamin on their hard work and accomplishment!

To read Nicholas and Benjamin's final project, click here.

To learn more about the 2020 Geothermal Design Challenge™: GIS Mapping Student Competition and the other finalists, click here.


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