Deep in the Amazon basin in eastern Peru, there’s a waterway that can scald animals and humans to death.
The so-called Boiling River can even fry frogs. And this month, energy-management master’s degree students from New York Institute of Technology’s Vancouver campus will fly down there to investigate the river’s potential to generate geothermal electricity.
“Students can apply to get funding to travel to work on a project in a global setting,” Remi Charron, an NYIT associate professor of energy management, told the Straight by phone. “So the students submitted a proposal.”
He mentioned that while they’re in Peru, they’ll speak to the local indigenous population to explore whether or not a geothermal project could be developed while taking into consideration the site’s cultural significance.
The second part of the project involves comparing the potential of the Boiling River to that of Meager Creek Hot Springs, which is 95 kilometres northwest of Whistler.
Charron said the students will also speak to First Nations people in Mount Currie to determine if there is any cultural significance to the hot springs in their area.
“It’s an important consideration for any energy project to go forward: to get the buy-in from the local First Nations.”
Meager Creek gets its heat from a volcanic source, but this doesn’t appear to be the case with the Boiling River. Charron said scientists believe that its heat comes from water that flows deep into the earth and reemerges scalding.
Students enrolled in the energy-management program study different forms of renewable-energy generation as well as energy efficiency.
“They would learn the importance of reducing energy consumption in buildings and industry,” Charron added.
In a course about power plants, the program addresses the integration of electricity grids. Feed-in tariffs, which can reward individual producers of renewable energy, are covered in a solar-energy course.
Students also study grid-level battery storage, which may be necessary as production of renewables like solar and wind power increases in the coming years.
“The wind blows more in the night,” Charron pointed out. “Solar works more in the day. You can get more even distribution over a 24-hour period but you would need to include some kind of battery storage. From now to 2050, the cost of these technologies is going down substantially.”
The energy-management program was launched in Vancouver in September.
It includes 10 courses and normally takes 12 to 20 months to complete, according to Charron. Classes are offered in the evenings, and those studying part-time could complete a master’s degree in three years. The only requirement is that it be finished within five years.
NYIT’s Vancouver campus, which is at 701 West Georgia Street, also offers master’s degrees in cybersecurity and instructional technology, as well as MBAs in management and finance. NYIT also has campuses in China, the United Arab Emirates, and three U.S. locations, including New York.
The NYIT energy-management program is also offered in the Big Apple, which offers an unusual educational opportunity for Vancouverites.
"The students could take a semester in New York and have their courses recognized here because the same courses are being offered on both campuses," Charron said.
NYIT is holding an open house at its Vancouver campus (701 West Georgia, 17th floor) from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 21. Prospective students can learn about scholarships, financial aid, career planning, and the school’s professional-development and graduate programs. For more information go here.