UH Manoa researcher is honored for contributions to clean energy education and empowerment

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Nicole Lautze, PhD, (808) 956-3499
Associate Specialist Faculty, HIGP & WRRC, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology
Marcie Grabowski, (808) 956-3151
Outreach Specialist, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology
Posted: Nov 28, 2017

Nicole Lautze
Nicole Lautze
Nicole Lautze receiving C3E award.
Nicole Lautze receiving C3E award.
Nicole Lautze in the field.
Nicole Lautze in the field.

Nicole Lautze, a researcher at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, was recently honored with the 2017 Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) Education Award. This C3E Award recognizes the outstanding leadership and extraordinary achievements of mid-career women working to advance clean energy in the U.S.

C3E is a program of the Clean Energy Ministerial, representing 25 major-economy governments accelerating the transition to clean energy technologies and policies. Lautze has mentored over 30 undergraduate and graduate students, and been granted nearly $2 million as lead investigator during the past five years at UH Mānoa. According to the award letter, Lautze was “selected from an extremely competitive candidate pool” for her work toward clean energy and student engagement.

Before, during, and after graduate school at the UHM School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, Lautze’s research and fellowships (including two Fulbrights) took her to Peru, Mexico and Italy, where she worked on active volcanoes. In 2010, she returned to Hawai‘i, where the experience in geology and volcanology took on the very practical application of geothermal exploration.

Lautze started a digitization project to gather information from private and public agencies and organizations such as videos, maps and reports related to Hawai‘i’s groundwater and geothermal resources. As a researcher with the Hawai‘i Institute for Geophysics and Planetology, Lautze founded the Hawai‘i Groundwater and Geothermal Resources Center to make this information publicly available.

“The intent of this web resource is to provide an informational platform for legislatures, stakeholders and the general public with a goal of encouraging innovation in water management and geothermal energy,” said Lautze. “This project has and continues to be a success—as demonstrated by the large number of users—thanks to the dedication of a large number of students.”

Lautze is currently leading a team of senior scientists in the development of an updated geothermal resource assessment across Hawai‘i. The team compiled geological, geochemical and geophysical data across the state, developed a statistical method to integrate these data into a geothermal resource probability map, and is collecting new data to improve this map.

Hawai‘i imports petroleum resources to meet roughly 75% of its energy needs, which is at high cost to the environment and the economy. The latter is exemplified by the fact that Hawai‘i residents pay the highest electricity prices in the nation, two and a half times the national average.

“The Hawai‘i Legislature set a policy objective that the state be 100% renewable by 2045, yet not much mention of baseload electrical production (which geothermal could supply) is made in the planning to meet this objective, and surprisingly little is known about the extent of the state’s geothermal potential. My work is trying to change this. I believe geothermal energy development, done responsibly, makes a lot of sense in Hawai‘i,” said Lautze.

The C3E Awards, administered by the MIT Energy Initiative and the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy, are a key component of the U.S. Department of Energy’s implementation of C3ELautze received her honor at the sixth annual C3E Women in Clean Energy Symposium in Cambridge, MA on November 15, 2017, and will receive an $8,000 award. The symposium is an opportunity to highlight Lautze’s contribution to the advancement of clean energy and inspire others toward that goal.

For more information, visit: https://www.higp.hawaii.edu/