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Powerful opening to GRC Annual Meeting highlights role of geothermal anywhere and anytime

GRC Annual Meeting 2020 - keynote speakers (left to right): Senator Murkowski, Senator Munchin, and Assistant Secretary Simmons (source: GRC)
Alexander Richter 19 Oct 2020

In his opening speech for the 2020 GRC Virtual Annual Meeting & Expo, Dr. Will Pettitt, Executive Director of GRC, highlights the fantastic role geothermal energy can play and the increased interest also manifested in the participation of two sitting Senators as keynotes for the opening.

In the opening remarks at the launch of this year’s GRC Annual Meeting & Expo yesterday, Dr. Will Pettit, the Executive Director of GRC addressed the participants highlighting the availability of geothermal anywhere and anytime and on uniting the geothermal energy industry.

This speech was given at the Opening Reception of GRC 2020 Annual Meeting & Expo, Sunday 18th October, 2020. Registration will be open throughout the conference for continuing live and on-demand content. https://grc2020.mygeoenergynow.org/

We are so excited to be kicking off the GRC 2020 Annual Meeting with this Sunday evening presentation and reception. We’ve just had three terrific and meaningful Keynote Speakers with messages that really resonate for all of us.

Thanks so much to Senator Murkowski, Senator Manchin, and Assistant Secretary Simmons, and all their teams, for accepting our invitations to speak with us.

This is the first time we know of a sitting Senator speaking at a geothermal conference and to have both the Chair and Ranking Member contribute is a strong message for the industry and highlights how geothermal energy can attract bipartisan support in the USA.

That gives a huge boost of confidence that we can be successful at truly enacting policy changes that help with research investment and facilitate industry projects.

We are in the middle of some crazy times. Andy and I are sat together here in a hotel meeting room in Alexandria, Virginia, with our management team, coordinating this live conference completely online.

We of course have a coronavirus pandemic affecting our economy and way of life. You’ll be pleased to hear that we are socially distancing here and taking all precautions.

We also have civil unrest over racial inequalities, we have a Presidential election coming up fast, and we have climate change looming large.

That climate change is starting to affect everybody’s lives, as predicted and discussed by the scientific community for decades.

We’ve got wildfires, changing weather patterns, melting glaciers, changes to biodiversity, just to name a few.

The geothermal industry can make a significant and meaningful difference to these issues. We can build jobs and the economy, we can contribute clean, robust and renewable energy, and we can lead the way in diversity and equality.

Our industry can build geothermal energy into a force for change. We can make geothermal anywhere anytime as we expand our industry, research and innovate our technologies, and bring in scalability across the USA and internationally.

We can unite around the three facets of electricity generation, direct heat use, and heat pumps for heating and cooling.

I know this vision is shared by many of you and has been a dream of many of us for decades. This will still take time and there’s a lot of hard work in front of us, but now is your opportunity and I encourage you to grasp it.

Whether you’re a student, an engineer, an academic, an industry professional, corporate leader, seasoned industry advocate, a politician, you name it, this is geothermal’s moment to break out of being a niche technology and become mainstream.

Tomorrow morning you will hear about momentous changes we’re bringing to the GRC to help you achieve this vision and succeed in whatever part of this great geothermal energy that you play in.

This conference has gone virtual. It’s going to be different to what we’re normally used to as we interact from our own homes, offices, or wherever we are in the world.

Even though it’s completely online, the GRC has still put together a program that’s better than ever.

We have over 200 recorded presentations and 10 panel discussions covering a broad range of topics. We’ve brought in as much interactivity as possible with our speakers online, answering questions as you’d expect during a conference.

We have a 3D interactive exhibition hall, five virtual field trips, job fairs and six networking receptions, along with other meetings and presentations to dive into.

At this online conference over the next week I encourage you to highlight and debate, visit content at your leisure, and engage with friends, colleagues and peers as you would at a conventional conference.

In this conference we have purposefully brought together the whole geothermal industry, covering both heat and power, across those facets of electricity generation, direct use, and heat pumps.

I’m hopeful these relationships will grow stronger and we can build a symbiotic approach to geothermal energy in the public’s vision of heat and power across industry and property.

Earlier in the year we moved to an association management company to bring in unique and broad expertise and experience to help us develop our program.

Once it became clear that hosting our planned meeting in Reno was untenable due to the Covid-19 pandemic then we had no choice but to switch gears as quickly as possible over to the digital environment.

This task has definitely been challenging and pioneering, and we’ve had to pull it together in a relatively short period of time.

Thanks to our talented staff and engaged volunteers we’ve converted a fully-featured GRC annual meeting, with its rich content and networking pieces, over to a virtual experience.

To achieve this we realized that we needed help from digital experts, so we hired an online production group to help assemble and broadcast the conference. We’re using a professional digital platform so I can safely promise this conference will be nothing like your everyday Zoom meeting!

This conference exists because of our attendees desires to engage and learn. It attracts a wide range of participants from around the globe and brings our diverse community together for several days of learning, exchanging ideas, and fellowship. I’d like to thank all of you listening today for attending.

Among you are our volunteers. You are a broad group and I thank you all. Whether you’re an author, a speaker, a panelist, session chair, workshop or fieldtrip organizer, or on our Organizing Committee, or Board of Directors, this meeting’s rich and robust program is down to your volunteer efforts.

I’d especially like to thank our Conference Chairs Lara Owens and Mary Mann, who have led our engaged and enthusiastic volunteer Organizing Committee through the uncertainty of the past few months.

And our technical program chairs, Will Osborn, Trenton Cladouhos, and Jericho Reyes, who have worked exceptionally hard to pull the program together.

I’d like to thank our sponsors and exhibitors. These folks have assembled a fabulous exhibition hall that will open in a few minutes. It’s been tough accepting the change from a face-to-face hall, where we’re all used to walking in and conversing with our friends, colleagues, vendors and customers.

These folks have stuck with us and wrapped their arms around this new virtual world.

We’ve tried to bring as much of the conventional experience to this virtual conference as possible using the latest technologies, so I encourage you all to take the time to interact with the exhibition hall as much as possible.

I’d especially like to call out Ormat as our Diamond Sponsor. They were the first to jump in and embrace the virtual conference. Thanks so much for your industry leadership.

The fact this annual meeting is happening at all is testament to the changeover to our talented new staff. I won’t name them all, but I’d especially like to call out Vicki Lindberg, our Meetings Director, who has worked tirelessly to make this meeting a success.

You’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet with our new staff members during this conference, as well as myself and Brian Schmidt from our Davis office, our Librarian and Industry Analyst.

The GRC continues to trailblaze, modernize, and revitalize so that we stay relevant in the 21st Century for our membership and community.

We lean on our volunteers as the backbone of the organization and our ambassadors. If you want to join us, please reach out to me, Andy, our next President, Jon Trujillo, or any of the Board, staff, or other volunteers you may know.

Whatever your needs, whether it be meeting with other researchers on projects, discussing the latest scientific innovation, looking for career opportunities, meeting customers or vendors, or discovering the latest technologies or services across the industry, this conference will be a new and completely unparalleled interaction across the geothermal community.

Next year, our annual meeting and industry exhibition will be in San Diego, October 3rd to 6th, 2021. Looking forward to seeing you there!

We thank Dr. Will Pettit for sharing his speech with us.