One of Klamath Falls’ most unique natural resources is at the core of John Lund’s life’s work as a geothermal heat consultant.

Photographs and recognition affiliated with Lund’s extensive career in geothermal energy line the wall along the stairwell in his Klamath Falls home. Lund taught civil engineering curriculum courses for more than 30 years at Oregon Tech, and has written some 250 papers on geothermal energy. He speaks fondly of lecturing on geothermal heat in 45 countries, drawing from a wealth of knowledge about the unique natural resource.

“Geothermal is just heat from the earth caused by volcanic activity,” Lund said, seated at his kitchen table Friday morning.

“We drill holes in the ground, hoping to tap into the heat. If we’re lucky, we’ll find some water to bring the heat up to the surface.

“Fortunately in Klamath Falls, almost everywhere that you drill, you’re bound to hit some hot water,” he added. “The main reason is, we’re on a fault system…that runs from Salt Lake City all the way over to here. Water moves along the fractures along the fault.”

Lund spent many years working with private geothermal wells in Klamath Falls while director of the former Geo-Heat Center at Oregon Tech from 1975-2010.

“We provided free technical assistance for people who were trying to develop geothermal projects,” Lund said.

“(If) people had problems with wells here in town, we’d go out and try to trouble-shoot and find out what it was.”

The center continues as the Oregon Renewable Energy Center (OREC) on the Klamath Falls campus.

During his oversight of the center, the 80-year-old emeritus professor of civil engineering estimates he and others inventoried upwards of 550 to 600 geothermal wells in the local area.

“The deepest wells in town are about 2,000 feet,” Lund said. “Typically they’re in the neighborhood of 300 to 500 feet deep. Mine in my front yard is 404 feet deep and it’s 190 degrees Fahrenheit,” Lund added.

Lund and a neighbor both have access to the private well and are each responsible for repairs.

Despite his well-used passport and variety of travels, Lund still sees Klamath Falls as a unique location, especially for its geothermal, coupled with the proximity of Oregon Tech.

“There are 18 communities in the U.S. that use geothermal for heating. The largest is Boise, Idaho,” he said. “But we’re the only campus in the world that gets its geothermal heat directly under campus.”

The OREC still offers a variety of services, including development of prototypes for solar, wave and other energy devices, testing of the manufacturing of new products and training on use of geothermal resources.

Lund was also involved with the installation of a 280-kw geothermal binary power plant on the Klamath Falls campus.

While retired from higher education, Lund said he would like meet with incoming Oregon Tech President Nagi Naganathan about the importance of geothermal emphasis on the Klamath Falls campus.

“What we’re unique for is geothermal, and I think we ought to build on what’s unique,” Lund said. “That’s the pitch I’ll make to the new president.”

Lund plans to lecture to engineers and business professionals in Mexico City this year.

“We’ll train engineers and business people down there on primarily direct use as opposed to electric power,” Lund said. “Direct use is something local communities can do, even local homeowners can do, whereas power generation takes big investment.”

Lund has helped compile compile update on geothermal energy for the World Geothermal Conferences every five years since 2000, and most recently in 2015.

“The geothermal community worldwide is small, and so I know people in almost every country,” Lund said.