Stressing the opportunities of geothermal – Open letter by IGA to Bill Gates

Unit 1 of Sarulla Geothermal Power Plant, North Sumatra/ Indonesia (source: Ormat Technologies)
Alexander Richter 19 Dec 2017

The International Geothermal Association (IGA) has shared an open letter to Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates on his commitment to renewable energy and his interest in geothermal energy, stressing the opportunities and the need for collaboration.

In an open letter released today, the International Geothermal Association on behalf of the global geothermal sector thanks Mr. Bill Gates for his commitment on finding solutions to Climate Change. In particular his investment interest in geothermal energy through Breakthrough Energy Ventures is seen as great news for the global geothermal industry.

Here the open letter shared today:

Dear Mr. Gates

We wanted to thank you for your blog post of December 12 on the “4 Signs of Progress on Climate Change” and your commitment on finding solutions to Climate Change. We read this piece with great interest, specifically on your commitment towards “especially promising but also underfunded” areas in clean energy investments, including Geothermal Power.

We are extremely pleased to see this commitment towards Geothermal Energy and agree with your statement that it is ´a phenomenal amount of energy stored up as heat under the Earth´s surface´. We are the International Geothermal Association, and the undersigned 31 people are together forming its Board of Directors. We represent countries, companies, research institutes, and universities. All with a passion for geothermal energy and a dedication to see the Geothermal Industry thrive.

We love the efforts and the goal of Breakthrough Energy Ventures and the initial investment areas of focus. We share your view that heat stored near-surface in volcanic islands are the quick wins. We also take note that mature techniques, notably from the Petroleum Industry, help to unlock geothermal resources deeper in the subsurface.

This is exactly why we are engaged and committed to bring geothermal further: the quick wins are done. We need to push harder, collaborate together, and work effectively towards connecting those unexploited geographic areas to their phenomenal energy source beneath their feet. We are keen to work with you and your Breakthrough Energy Ventures to make this happen.

We have the following Vision:

  • We want to help the world economies to let go of the fossil-fuel addiction and let geothermal energy play its part in replacing fossil-based heat and power generation
  • We want to turn geothermal prospects into bankable projects by creating an attractive investors environment
  • We support policy development, based on the value provided by geothermal and promote good governance of geothermal operations worldwide

The unique opportunities presented by geothermal through:

  • Local economic development: geothermal as local source of power through distributed development and decentralised economic development in rural areas.
  • Replacing coal through deep geothermal applications
  • Cleaning up the air: replacing fossil fuels in the heating sector, improving air-quality, health and well-being (see China)
  • Access to water and food: Geothermal provides access to water and heating for greenhouses, as well as cooling.

No other renewable energy and fossil-fuel based technology can compete on the unique and various attributes and opportunities offered by geothermal. We all know the transformative impact geothermal energy can have on communities and the planet and want to share that with others.

We kindly ask for the chance to meet you or the team of Breakthrough Energy Ventures to discuss ways to identify catalysts that can help push for increased geothermal development around the world.  Only when we are collaborating and bundling efforts on pushing geothermal development worldwide, will geothermal energy be able to live up to its great potential in the important energy transition.

You can find the International Geothermal Association via its website at


Dr. Marit Brommer, Executive Director, International Geothermal Association

e-mail: – phone: +49 234 32 10 712


The Board of Directors of the International Geothermal Association (IGA)

Bjarni Bjarnason, Reykjavik Energy, Iceland

Andrea Blair, Women in Geothermal, New Zealand

Rolf Bracke, Bochum University of Applied Science, Germany

Paul Brophy, EGS, Inc., U.S.

Jane Brotheridge, Jacobs Engineering, New Zealand

Louis Capuano, Capuano Engineering, U.S.

Surya Darma, Indonesia

Bruno della Vedova, Fondazione Internazionale Trieste, Italy

Ariel D. Fronda, Department of Energy, Philippines

Albert Genter, Électricité de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France

Ludvik Georgsson, UNU – Geothermal Training Program, Reykjavik, Iceland

Colin Harvey, Harvey Consultants, New Zealand

Georgina Izquierdo, Instituto de Investigaciones Eléctricas, Mexico

Beata Kepinska. Academy of Science, Poland

Kristin Vala Matthiasdottir, HS Orka, Iceland

Peter Meier, GeoEnergie Suisse, Switzerland

Diego Morata, University of Chile, Chile

Paul Moya, West-Jec, Costa Rica

Juliette Newson, Iceland School of Energy, Iceland

Peter Omenda, Consultant, Kenya

Abadi Poernomo, Indonesia Geothermal Association, Indonesia

Alexander Richter, ThinkGeoEnergy, Iceland

Horst Rüter, HarbourDom, Germany

Andrew Sabin, Geothermal Program Office, U.S.

Ka Noel Salonga, EDC, Philippines

Gabor Szita, Porcio Ltd./ Hungarian Geothermal Association, Hungary

Valentina Svalova, Institute of Environmental Geoscience RAS, Russia

Toshi Uchirida, AIST, Japan

Massimo Verdoya, University of Genova, Italy

Shigeto Yamada, Fuji Electric, Japan

Sadiq Zarrouk, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Disclaimer: The author is a co-signatory of this letter in his capacity as President of IGA