50th Anniversary Contest Honorable Mention -- Alfonso Mohor
In the context of the global challenge that our generation faces regarding stopping the climate emergency that threatens to make our environment hostile for life in the coming decades, renewable energies as an alternative to the highly contaminant fossil fuels have certainly caught a lot of attention over the past years.
It is very direct that the more developed economies and societies have an advantage to take the lead in the necessary transition towards RE. But, easy as it is to just leave it to someone else, the vastness of the task demands us all to act.
The South American continent is well known as a still underdeveloped region of the world. With some of the highest levels of poverty and unequal wealth distribution, a change in the energy sources that power our countries might seem as a somewhat secondary need. But that is in fact far from truth.
Being born in Chile and given the possibility to study the Earth Science as well as engaging in social movements such as the ones that have shaped the recent history of the country, are a key aspect of the person that I am today. This has driven me to move from my hometown, Concepción, in the southern regions of the country, to study Geology at the University of Chile in Santiago, the capital, and more recently drove me pursuing a specialization in geothermal energy at the Iceland School of Energy, Reykjavik University, in the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik.
The path I’ve been through showed me, while being the President of the Confederation of Students of Chile in 2018 as well as working in research at the Andean Geothermal Center of Excellence during the last years and now starting my Master’s thesis as a member of a small geothermal company in Iceland, that geothermal energy development is not just a way to replace fossil fuels, it also a tool for directly improve the quality of life of the people that inhabit the territories where this resource can be found.
Chile, located in the Southern Volcanic Zone of The Andes, is known for its unusually high seismic and volcanic activity. Considering that the country is located right in the subduction zone of the Nazca tectonic plate and the South American tectonic can explain some of Chile’s unique geological characteristics, and of course this includes a very promising geothermal potential.
On the other hand, despite of the considerably high potential that’s been long identified in the Chilean Andes for the development of geothermal, this is still a largely pending task. The region is in fact one of the largest underdeveloped geothermally active areas of the world.
Now, every hard assignment requires people to tackle it. The Andean Geothermal Center of Excellence, of which I’m proud to be a part of as an external collaborator, is one of the few institutions that is willing to surf through the complexities of a politically and socially difficult country to promote and achieve the development of this clean and beneficial form of energy.
I came to Iceland with the goal not to acquire a degree, but to make myself with the tools to go back to Chile and help in the development of geothermal energy as a way to contribute in the overall fight to achieve a better quality of life for everyone in the region.
It is my very dream to be able to devote myself to geothermal research and project development of both direct use and electricity generation back in my home country because I’m certain that, in the long run, this will be my own way of retributing the people of Chile and South America.
Thank you to the sponsors of our 50th Anniversary Contest!