Geothermal industry mission: unity, cooperation, and a strong, clear message
With the increasing demand for renewable energy, interest in geothermal is on the rise. The industry must be prepared to take advantage of coming opportunities: we need unity, cooperation, and a strong, clear message.
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 attendees included two guest speakers, a live panel of experts, 58 geothermal experts who joined in remotely, 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
- The panel:
- 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 the general positioning of geothermal: what is being done and what should be done to raise the industry’s profile? Here’s the outcome of those discussions:
Cooperation was the first challenge discussed, and unity was a recurring theme throughout: we must stop arguing and start celebrating success in the sector. We need more collaboration within the industry: we need to tell one big story and unite under the geothermal brand. “We shouldn’t be fighting over the same slice of the pie,” said Ann Robertson-Tait. “We should make a bigger pie!”
Geothermal’s value proposition is strong: geothermal is resilient to climate change, has zero emissions, is available worldwide 24/7, and has a small environmental footprint. But it isn’t widely known or understood outside the industry. We don’t talk enough about the positive aspects and the success stories – we must speak more and louder about how we can add value.
To get our message out, we need to be more aggressive and active in our communication. We must 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 amongst ourselves,” said Andrea Blair. “But this is not a technical discussion. We need to be able to talk to people. We must step out of our comfort zone and look at our industry from outside, through the lens of the public.”
Ann Robertson-Tait added that we need to find the elevator pitch. “If the message gets too complicated, we lose the audience. We should keep it simple and positive about how geothermal can help the planet. We need to be concrete: People care about clean energy, society, jobs – not technicalities. We have to tell them what we offer: real solutions to their needs.”
Consumers and policymakers are both important target groups. Politicians are crucial to achieve our goals, but they represent the interests of their constituents, so we must create a public demand for geothermal so that people want it. People are buying and paying a premium for solar and wind energy; it should be the same for geothermal. Peter Tait referred to GORE-TEX: a strong brand that consumers pay extra for. By getting the general public onboard, we can apply pressure upwards. Pär Ahlberger discussed the triple helix concept, according to which academia, industry and government must all be on board in order for an innovation to advance.
The future looks bright. The panel agreed that while geothermal should have come further by now, 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 are peaking. Also, geothermal makes a good neighbor. Unlike most power plants, geothermal plants can run in urban areas or sensitive areas. Magnus Brandberg added that it’s crucial to keep bringing plants online, until we reach a tipping point. “We have to prepare for growth,” he said, in summary. “When the demand comes, we must be ready.”
In the coming year, the roundtable task force will put an even larger emphasis on cooperation inside the geothermal industry in order to communicate a strong message towards the world through a series of industry discussions, first starting in March, 2022.
For more information, please contact:
Kristina Hagström-Ilievska CMO of Baseload Capital
Tel: +46 (0) 7323300390
Baseload Capital is a specialized investment entity that funds the deployment of heat power worldwide. Our portfolio of companies in Iceland, Japan, Taiwan and the U.S. work with local communities and power companies to permit, build and commission heat power plants.
Heat power is an affordable form of renewable energy that can be harnessed from either geothermal resources or waste heat. By applying innovative financing structures to help our local operators build and run the heat power plants, Baseload Capital can help nations quickly transition away from fossil fuels and toward energy independence. The result will lead to more resilient societies and a planet in balance.