MSc Thesis: Leigjendavandinn - The Tenant Problem in Geothermal Leasing

Christopher Mathews successfully defends his master's thesis


REYKJAVIK, May 23 – Master's candidate of Sustainable Energy Sciences, Christopher Mathews, has just successfully delivered his master's thesis project focusing on the tenant issue surrounding geothermal resource leasing. Throughout his work, Christopher was supervised both by Dr. Guðni A. Jóhannesson, the Director-General for the National Energy Authority of Iceland, and Eiríkur Elís Þorláksson, Professor of Law here at Reykjavík University. 

IMG_20170523_140229As Christopher explains, Iceland is heavily reliant on the efficient use of geothermal energy; two-thirds of the nation's current energy needs are met by geothermal resources, and if properly utilized, geothermal energy can power Iceland for centuries to come. However, what is defined as proper utilization is subjective and varies from stakeholder to stakeholder. As such, the division between ownership and control of the resources has caused concern among Icelandic policymakers that private companies with temporary rights to use geothermal resources may focus on short-term exploitation to the detriment of the long-term public interest. This issue is called leigjendavandinn, the tenant problem. Iceland developed a statutory solution for the tenant problem in 2008, however, European authorities contend that the law violates international agreements and have demanded it be changed. Christopher's masters thesis considers these issues by looking into geothermal power and the dispute over Iceland's answer to the tenant problem, and proposes an alternative approach to the problem consistent with both Icelandic and European law. 

Congratulations Christopher on an excellent thesis!


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