Director of Geothermal Training, Provides Insight on Experiences in Geothermal Industry

Guðni Axelsson, ISE Reservoir Engineering Instructor & ISOR Director of Geothermal Training, Provides Insight on Experiences in Geothermal Industry


Guðni Axelsson, Ph.D., Director of Geothermal Training and Reservoir Engineer at Iceland Geosurvey (ISOR), was interviewed recently about his time in the geothermal industry over the last 30 years. As an expert in the field, Axelsson provides insight on his experiences from first starting out in explorations and teaching to learning about new technological developments.

Having a background in geophysics and geology, opportunities for Guðni in the United States geothermal energy sector came when he attended Oregon State University to pursue a Ph.D. in Reservoir Physics. After gaining more experience in the field, he returned to Iceland to work in low temperature geothermal areas, eventually moving into studying high temperature fields. Throughout his time in the industry, and still today, Guðni Axelsson teaches and is amongst others a guest professor at the Iceland School of Energy at Reykjavík University. Currently, he oversees project management at ISOR for projects specific to Iceland and Kenya.

Guðni Axelsson: “My favourite moments early on [in my career] are being in the field doing reinjection measurements”

Axelsson says, “My favorite moments early on [in my career] are being in the field doing reinjection measurements, and [now reflects on] how far the industry has come in terms of technological advancement; which includes studying the deep roots of geothermal systems and the exploration of advanced modelling techniques”. In terms of travel, what stands out is “travelling over 10 times to China working on a specific project, and how it is interesting to see the drastic changes in Chinese society”. Other memorable trips include working in Kenya and El Salvador.

With over 20 years of teaching experience, this is the first year Guðni Axelsson is teaching at the Iceland School of Energy. He recently completed teaching a 6-week course on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering for our Masters students, which was co-taught by Landsvirkjun's Chief Reservoir Engineer, Egill Júlíusson, Ph.D. The main piece of advice Guðni tells his students is to “focus on studies first and follow your interests…there are always practicalities to consider, but there should always be a focus to perform well in school”.

Overall, we enjoyed talking to Guðni Axelsson and appreciate his time at the Iceland School of Energy. It is always great to hear about how his abundant experience can positively inspire the next generation of geothermal engineers. When asked about being termed the “grandfather” of reservoir engineering, he laughed and said, “Well, I became a real grandfather this year, so I guess I fit the title!” Our students enjoyed the class and his sense of humor, and we encourage connections with our professional course instructors in the future.

For more news about Guðni's coursework, check out our Facebook and Twitter pages featuring Applied Geothermal Reservoir Engineering, where students are presented with projects to model high temperature, low temperature, and sedimentary geothermal rock systems.


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By bringing together the best from industry and academia, Iceland School of Energy provides a unique, and comprehensive training for its students. A wide range of courses taught by the very best in their field open a broad spectrum of possibilities for students and allow for individual study designs. Focus is put on close collaboration with industry experts while maintaining high academic quality of the work.

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