The keys to geothermal success were debated at an Industry Roundtable discussion held at WGC Congress 2020+1 in Reykjavik. The event was focused on uniting our industry and hosted by Baseload Capital, ThinkGeoEnergy and the International Geothermal Association.
The great support by Baseload Capital for the industry by hosting this event and investing time and money helping to push this important topic is priceless. With further planned activities as a follow up on the event, there will be some exciting news in the new year.
Guests for the roundtable discussion included two guest speakers, a live panel of experts, 58 geothermal online experts, a live studio audience and online viewers from all over the world.
The guest speakers:
- Pär Ahlberger, Ambassador of Sweden to Iceland.
- Peter Tait, renewable energy advocate
- Will Pettitt, Geothermal Rising
- Magnus Brandberg, Baseload Capital
- Andrea Blair, IGA and Upflow
- Andrew Sabin, US Navy Geothermal Program
- Ann Robertson-Tait, GeothermEx
The questions discussed concerned general positioning of geothermal: what is done and should be done to raise the profile of geothermal? Here’s the outcome of the discussions.
Cooperation was the first of the challenges to be discussed. One recurring theme during the seminar was unity: we must stop arguing and start celebrating success in the sector. We need more collaboration within the industry, tell one big story and unite under the geothermal brand.
– We shouldn’t be fighting over the same slice of the pie, Ann Robertson-Tait said. We should make a bigger pie!
The value proposition of geothermal was considered strong: geothermal is resilient to climate change, has zero emission, available worldwide 24/7 and leaves a small environmental footprint. But people haven’t been forced to think about it. We don’t talk enough about the positive aspects and the success stories – we must speak about how we can add value.
To get our message out we need to be more aggressive and active in our communication. We have stop being apologetic and become a part of the conversation.
– Geothermal is not strong enough online, said Will Pettitt. A key strategy would be to reach influencers with many followers and engage them. We need a global, social network for geothermal.
In finding a tone of voice to address the public, the panel became self-critical.
– It may be a problem that we are technological people talking to ourselves, Andrea Blair said. But it’s not a technical discussion, we need to talk to the people. We must step out of our comfort zone and look at our industry from outside, through the lens of the public.
Ann added that we need to find the elevator pitch: if it gets too complicated, we lose the audience. We should keep it simple and positive about how geothermal can help the planet. We need being concrete: People care about clean energy, society jobs – not technicalities. We have to tell them what we offer them: real solutions to their needs.
Consumers and policymakers were both considered important to reach. Politicians are crucial to achieve what we want. But they will do what they think consumers want, so we must create a public demand for geothermal and make people want it. For solar and wind energy, people are buying and paying premium fees, and Peter Tait referred to gore-tex: a strong brand that consumers pay extra for. We must get the general public onboard to apply pressure upwards. Pär Ahlberger discussed the triple helix concept, according to which academia, industry and government must all be on board.
The future looks bright, though. The panel agreed that while geothermal should have come further, things are looking positive. The world needs a new green energy source in the mix and geothermal is the obvious choice, as solar and wind have reached top level. Also, geothermal makes a good neighbour, as unlike most power plants geothermal plants can run in urban areas or sensitive areas. Magnus added that it’s crucial to keep getting projects live, until we reach a tipping point.
– We have to prepare for growth, he concluded. When the demand comes, we must be ready.
In upcoming year, the roundtable task force will put even bigger emphasis on cooperation inside of geothermal industry in order to take out the strong message towards the world through out a series of industry discussions, first coming up in March, 2022.
ThinkGeoEnergy thanks Baseload Capital and of course the International Geothermal Association (IGA) for the cooperation on this fantastic and important initiative. It was fantastic to meet in person in Reykjavik and even plug in an online audience, as difficult as it might have been.
Thanks Kristina and Baseload Capital team, and of course Marit Brommer, you guys rock.