Seminar Series

The Geothermal Energy Lab hosts a monthly seminar series of invited speakers from industry, academia, and government bodies.  Topics range from engineering to policy to social license.

February 1st, 2022 at 11:00 am

It’s just a hole in the ground right? Physics-based drilling practices impact on geothermal drilling

Tuesday, February 1st 

11:00 am - noon, Mountain Daylight Time

Dr. Sam Noynaert of Texas A&M University discusses physics-based drilling practices to improve drilling performance and his experiences working with the Utah FORGE team. By understanding the physics behind the rock-cutting process and drillstring dynamics, a significant improvement in drilling performance was achieved through simple changes in operations and in the mud program.


Dr. Sam Noynaert is an associate professor of practice in the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University.  Prior to joining Texas A&M, Dr. Noynaert worked for BP and EOG Resources as both a drilling and completions foreman and a drilling engineer.  At BP, he focused on coil tubing drilling and tight gas sand completions while at EOG he worked on unconventional shale plays in the Barnett and Eagle Ford Shales.  He continues to work with oil and gas companies in a consulting role with a performance-based approach. 

Dr. Noynaert’s research is focused on drilling with an emphasis on solutions that improve drilling performance.  The research deals with primarily with applications in unconventional resource and other plays that require horizontal or extended reach drilling. The applied drilling research program has resulted in significant gains (20%+) in drilling performance for both highly technical experienced operators as well as smaller, less-experienced companies in both the oil and gas and geothermal industries.

October 21st, 2021 at 8:30 am

Crowdthermal: Public Engagement in Geothermal Projects

Thursday, October 21st

8:30 am – 10 am Mountain Daylight Time

CROWDTHERMAL aims to initiate a new form of public dialogue, during which it will be possible to jointly tackle concerns and increase interest in geothermal energy. The aim is to take public engagement to a new level, empowering citizens to directly participate in the development of geothermal projects with the help of alternative financing, such as crowdfunding. This will only be possible if public trust can be gained, and the transparency around geothermal projects (and their social and environmental impacts) can be maximised.

The development of geothermal energy or renewable energies in general is not just a technical matter. It is also very much a question of social change with impact on people’s everyday lives re­garding energy production, distribution and consumption. The importance of including the public in development and installation of new energy infrastructures has been increasingly recognized over the last years. This has been the reason for CROWDTHERMAL project to work on “Guidelines for public engagement” and “Social License to Operate”

The concept of Social License to Operate (SLO) is a derivative of “Corporate Social Responsibility” used extensively in the mining industries where having an SLO is an essential part of operating within democratic jurisdictions, as demonstrating sufficient “popular support” for a given project is likely to speed up bureaucratic procedures for obtaining operational permits or licenses.


Dr Isabel M Fernández Fuentes is the Coordinator for the project CROWDTHERMAL since September 2019. She is an engineering geologist, with 30 years of professional experience, graduated from the Granada University, 1987, Master Engineering Geology, 1990, and PhD in Geology, 1997, from the University Complutense in Madrid, Spain. Since 1988 she worked as a researcher in applied Geophysics in the Centre for Studies and Experimentation of the Ministry of Public Works, Madrid, Spain. From 2001 to 2019, she works for the European Federation of Geologists, EFG, covering expertise and professional input including geothermal energy, hydrogeology, mineral raw material, and environmental protection field. In 2008 she was appointed as Executive Director of EFG. Working with EFG, Isabel has coordinated and participated in different European projects, and supports the coordination of EFG’s Expert Groups, among other activities.

Dipl.-Psych. Jan Hildebrand is head of the Department of Environmental Psychology at IZES gGmbH since 2016. Before, he has been the team leader of the Environmental Psychology Research Group at the University of Saarland. His research interests include the acceptance of renewable energies and related energy infrastructures, conflicts and stakeholder perspectives in the energy sector as well as public participation processes and their psychological dimensions. Besides other projects, he is currently coordinating the research on public acceptance of PtX-technologies within the flagship project Kopernikus P2X and work on stakeholder engagement procedures connected to geothermal energy in the CROWDTHERMAL project.

Dr. Amel Barich is the lead of the Social License to Operate (SLO) task in the CROWDTHERMAL project. She is an earth scientist and works as the project manager at the GEORG Geothermal Research Cluster in Iceland. Dr. Barich is a metamorphic petrologist by background – she obtained her Ph.D. in Earth Science in 2015 from the University of Granada in Spain. She was a postdoctoral researcher and science coordinator at the Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences in Potsdam, Germany in 2016. Between 2014 and 2018, Dr. Barich served as Councilor in the executive board of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), and as the Secretary-General of the International Association of Geoethics (IAGETH). Dr. Barich is working since 2018 on projects related to geothermal energy, including geological carbon capture and storage, magma research, policy, and social sciences