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Rising interest in geothermal energy in the United States, also beyond electricity

Opening Session, GRC Annual Meeting 2019, Palm Springs (source: ThinkGeoEnergy)
Alexander Richter 26 Oct 2020

The recently held GRC Virtual Annual Meeting of Geothermal Rising, showed the increasing interest in geothermal energy in the United States, even for direct use with overall optimism shared by industry representatives.

There clearly is an awakening happening for geothermal energy in the United States. As highlighted at the recent GRC Annual Meeting – or now Geothermal Rising conference, the blackouts in California and the understanding of the necessity of baseload supply of electricity, an increasing interest in what geothermal energy can provide to heating, the increasing interest of the oil & gas sector and hopes that technology development could propel geothermal energy even further are all encouraging signs. The fact that two U.S. Senators actually provided keynote presentations in the opening of the event, showed an increased attention.

Apart from a large number of interesting presentations and panels, I was participating in two panels, one on the branding for Geothermal Rising as part of the Membership meeting and the Policy Panel press conference. The branding session shared details on the rebranding of the GRC to Geothermal Rising by Taoti Creative, the agency responsible for the rebranding, clearly showing the investment being made in pushing the geothermal message to the general public and decision makers in the political arena.

The policy panel brought together a great and diverse group of individuals both from development, operation, technology, organisation, academic, and heat pump segments of our industry. The following individuals presented:

  • Nick Goodman, Chief Executive Officer, Cyrq Energy
  • Jonathan Weisgall, Vice President, Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company
  • Jeff Tester, Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems, Cornell University
  • Jay Egg, President, EGG Geothermal HVAC Systems
  • Paul Thomsen, Vice President, Ormat Technologies (Panel Chairman and Moderator)
  • Will Pettitt, Executive Director, Geothermal Resources Council

Hearing about the efforts beyond power generation by Cyrq Energy, the heat pump business and efforts by Cornell University to derive geothermal for heating in New York, show that things have evolved. The speakers highlighted how important it was for the GeoVision report by the U.S. DOE to finally mention the opportunities of direct use of geothermal resources.

The GRC Policy Committee, an independently funded group of industry leaders within the GRC that advocates on behalf of the geothermal industry and informs government on the future direction of geothermal energy, has been hard at work on representing the geothermal sector towards politicians in Washington and beyond. The presentation by Paul Thomsen of Ormat was once again an affirmation about the positive aspects of geothermal energy and its value proposition for the U.S. and beyond. With eight geothermal power purchase agreements signed in 2020, it shows that things are moving.

As Geothermal Rising points out “we now enter into a period of increased acceptance of geothermal energy as an integral part of a successful transition to a clean and renewable future.”

We sure hope that the enthusiasm and efforts pay off, but sense an awakening and wider understanding that might really help geothermal make the leap it so deserves.