Explore natural energy sources and technology’s impact on the environment and economy in Iceland. Gain hands-on experience developing a renewable energy project.

At a Glance

Credits

9

Prerequisites

Relevant previous coursework

Language of Study

Icelandic

Courses taught in

English

Dates

Jun 29 ‎– Aug 15

Program Base

Ísafjörður, Reykjavik, Akureyri

Critical Global Issue of Study

Climate & Environment

Climate & Environment Icon

Overview

With untapped reserves of enough geothermal and hydroelectric energy, Iceland is the perfect place to learn about renewable energy sources and sustainability. You’ll meet with multiple stakeholders connected with the renewable energy sector for a multifaceted view of the country’s energy policy and learn about the latest renewable energy technologies. You’ll also be immersed in Icelandic culture and language and discover Iceland’s untamed landscape from Akureyri an energy–progressive city at the base of a fjord; Ísafjörður, a remote town of deep blue fjords and flat-topped mountains seldom visited by tourists; and Reykjavik, the northernmost capital in the world.

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Online and In Person

The program will begin with two weeks of online courses. During this time, you will complete your Icelandic language course. You will then travel to Iceland for the in-country portion of the program where you will complete the thematic seminar and project. At the end of the program the group will come together for final presentations and to reflect on the experience.

Highlights

  • Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site at Thingvellir.
  • Gain comprehensive knowledge of applied renewable energy technologies.
  • Live and study in the capital, Reykjavík, and second largest urban area, Akureyri.
  • Explore the Reykjanes peninsula's diversity of volcanic and geothermal activity.

Prerequisites

Previous college-level coursework or background in engineering, economics, environmental science or studies, or related fields, as assessed by SIT.

Excursions

Energize + Orient

You’ll visit geothermal sites and power plants in the fascinating southwest of Iceland, getting an introduction to the country’s energy production.

Powered by Nature

You’ll explore dynamic and varied landscapes: glaciers, volcanoes, fjords, geothermal fields, lava flows, rugged coastline, and waterfalls. You will experience the power of nature, evident in every aspect of this constantly transforming island. Seeing Iceland’s energy sources will give you an essential understanding of the natural forces involved in energy utilization.

Reykjavik

No study trip to Iceland would be complete without an excursion to Reykjavik, on the coast of Iceland and the northernmost capital of a sovereign state in the world. It’s also one of the cleanest, greenest, and safest cities in the world. Settled in 874 AD, Reykjavik means “smoky bay” due to the steam rising from hot springs. During your visit, you may visit the national museum, tracing Iceland’s Viking history and nearby famed geothermal Blue Lagoon spa, near the village of Grindavik.

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.

Academics

Coursework

Access virtual library guide.

Participants in this program develop knowledge of renewable energy technologies, an understanding of the role these technologies play in Iceland’s social and political context, and the ability to apply their knowledge to other situations. Coursework covers hydroelectricity and geothermal energy (the most commonly used renewables in Iceland) in depth, as well as other renewables, and energy economics and policies.

Students engage in classroom and field instruction in the basics of the Icelandic language and learn about the history and culture of the nation.

Language study will start online two weeks prior to students’ arrival in Iceland.

The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • The geology behind Iceland’s energy resources and sustainable use
  • Hydroelectric and geothermal power; wind, solar, tidal and biomass energy; renewable fuels
  • Resource economics and policy
  • Sustainable energy design and implementation within the sociocultural, economic, and environmental contexts
  • Icelandic language basics

Renewable Energy, Technology, and Resource Economics Seminar

Renewable Energy, Technology, and Resource Economics Seminar – syllabus
(ENGR3000 / 4 credits)

This course focuses on helping students develop mastery of alternative energy technologies and an understanding of the role these technologies play in Iceland’s social, economic, and political context and how these lessons apply to the larger world. Learning takes place both in the classroom and in the field.

Icelandic

Icelandic – syllabus
(ICEL1002 / 2 credits)

Learn the basics of the Icelandic language and the ways in which it reflects the sociocultural identity of the nation.

Renewable Energy, Technology, and Resource Economics Project

Renewable Energy, Technology, and Resource Economics Project – syllabus
(ENGR3060 / 3 credits)

In this course students are introduced to recent research in renewable energy, technology, and resource economics. Students become familiar with the methodologies employed in energy and sustainability studies. Students select and analyze relevant issues in renewable energy in consultation with program faculty. Each student conducts research with a field study component to produce an original academic paper and presents their results to the class. This course gives students the opportunity to engage more deeply with one of the topics covered in the seminar and to develop their academic skills. Support is provided throughout the project from program faculty.

Past student projects:

  • A stakeholder analysis of tidal power potential in the Westfjords
  • A feasibility analysis of rapeseed biodiesel for the Icelandic fishing fleet
  • A proposal for alternative energy systems for the island of Grímsey
  • Paradoxes in Icelandic ecological intelligence and environmental behavior
  • The potential for consumer engagement in smart grid technologies in the Westfjords
  • A wind resource assessment for Ísafjörður
  • A study of hydrogen sulfide emissions from geothermal power plants

Homestays

There will be no homestays during the summer 2020 program. This precaution is being taken primarily to protect homestay families from students who may unwittingly spread COVID-19 due to international travel. Instead, students will live in hostels, guesthouses, dormitories as the program moves from Akureyri to Reykjavik.

AKUREYRI

With a population of approximately 18,000, Akureyri is Iceland’s second largest urban area. This infamous “green city” is located at the base of the Eyjafjordur Fjord and is a hub of Iceland’s strides towards new-zero energy futures.  Akureyri has a composting plant that transforms the city’s organic waste to compost; a methane capture system that fuels city buses; geothermal heating and a local hydropower plant.  In 2019, this SIT program worked with Akureyri’s green energy leaders and the forestry bureau to offset the carbon footprint of participants’ travel by planting more than 200 trees in the forests surrounding Akureyri.

Reykjavik

Reykjavik is the world’s most northerly capital and home to nearly 2/3 of Iceland’s population. Reykjavik is a walkable and metropolitan hub of research, art, music, cultural forms, Icelandic fare and history.  Students will utilize University of Iceland facilities during their stay in Reykjavik which is proximate to the city’s historical downtown.

ÍSAFJÖRÐUR

Travel to Ísafjörður, the capital of the Westfjords region. A town of 2,500, Ísafjörður serves as an urban center for the remote Westfjords, offering services such as a hospital, schools, cafes, museums and art venues.

Faculty & Staff

Iceland: Renewable Energy, Technology, and Resource Economics

Brack Hale, PhD
Academic Director
Alex Tyas, MS
Program Assistant
Anna Hixson, MA
Program Assistant

Discover the Possibilities

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