The 2011 Geothermal Energy Technology and International Development Forum was held by the Geothermal Energy Association, in collaboration with The U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Energy, on May 4 in Washington DC. High level officials in attendance represented Pakistan, Canada, Dominica, Iceland, Japan, St Kits and Nevis, New Zealand, Hungary, Australia and Indonesia.
Senator Ron Wyden delivered the keynote address. His tone was one of support and empowerment to the more than 200 gathered geothermal industry leaders, and he confirmed his continuing support in the Senate. "If we make some smart decisions now we can look down the road six, eight, ten years from now and say: that was a good call; that made a difference,” he said. “To be able to have this kind of clean geothermal energy at this time with the opportunities for this number of jobs, that's a combination that comes around fairly rarely. ... You all are on the right side of history."
The program showcased geothermal trends and governmental policies. "There is plenty of action on geothermal going on in Congress,” said Allyson K. Anderson, Senior Professional Staff for the US Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee. “Leadership in the Senate and at DOE have not forgotten it and put a lot of stock in generating it as a renewable.” She added, “Hopefully we will have a hearing on it soon."
JoAnn Milliken, Senior Advisor and Acting Program Manager of the U.S. Department of Energy Geothermal Technologies Program said a funding opportunity for geothermal would be coming in June. Potential topics under the funding announcement would be: Advanced exploration technologies, Advanced drilling and well completion technologies, and Tools and monitoring systems for EGS stimulation.
Trends on the state level were also discussed. "Geothermal is a silver bullet for utilities, let's not forget that ... State RPS are big drivers, and we see active utility interest," said Jonathan Weisgall, Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs at MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company.
Experts discussed projects under development both in the U.S. and internationally. "USAID is working in geothermal energy in Africa because it helps everything else we do, including economic development, health, and poverty reduction," said Jeffrey Humber, Director of the Africa Infrastructure Program at USAID.
At the event, industry leaders announced the formation of the new International Geothermal Business Coalition, founded by the European Geothermal Energy Council, the US Geothermal Energy Association, the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association, the Australian Geothermal Energy Association, and the Chilean Geothermal Energy Association. The organization will represent the leading companies involved in developing geothermal resources to meet energy needs across the world.
A wide range of attendees participated in the Geothermal Forum, including representatives from: the Export-Import Bank, U.S. Department of Energy, General Services Administration, House Committee on Science and Technology, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Inter-American Development Bank, International Trade Administration, National Institute of Science and Technology, US Department of State, UN Foundation, US Agency for International Development, the World Bank and more.