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Iceland's leaders meet MIT on energy

The president of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, will be at MIT Wednesday, April 4, to discuss geothermal energy, climate change and other energy topics with MIT professors.

Grimsson will meet with Professor Ernest Moniz, co-director of MIT's Energy Initiative; Professor Jefferson Tester of chemical engineering, lead author of a recent MIT report on geothermal energy; and Professor Ronald Prinn of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences, one of the lead authors of a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

Tester emphasized Iceland's world leadership position in the utilization of geothermal energy in robust district heating and electricity generation applications.

"Iceland sets a high standard for other countries to follow in achieving sustainable, carbon-free energy," Tester said. "For example, we can learn much from the technology they are now developing in their new initiative to produce hydrogen from high-temperature geothermal fluids for transportation applications."

During his visit to MIT, Grimsson will also meet with MIT's Icelandic community (three professors and six graduate students) and with Chancellor Phillip Clay.

"We are pleased to host President Grimsson and his colleagues to share what we are doing in energy and technology research. We appreciate his understanding of the important role national leadership plays in motivating and supporting the research required to make breakthroughs in energy," said Clay.

The visit will help to strengthen already existing ties between MIT and Iceland. The Iceland Consortium of Industry and Commerce recently became part of MIT's Industrial Liaison Program and hopes to learn more about MIT's educational and research activities.

Through the consortium, Icelandic companies will be invited to access the ILP programs in order to learn about MIT's educational and research activities. There are various grounds for profitable collaborations, especially in the field of energy, as Iceland is renowned for its renewable energy sources.

In addition, Svafa Grönfeldt, the president of Reykjavik University, who is accompanying Grimsson, is interested in establishing contacts at MIT to help realize her goal of establishing a graduate school of clean energy.

Grimsson, who is in his second four-year term as Iceland's president, has a Ph.D. in political science and became a full professor at the University of Iceland in 1973. He served as a member of parliament and minister of finance before being elected president in 1996.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 4, 2007 (download PDF).

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