Executive Director's Message -- April 2022

In his latest Executive Director Message, Dr. Will Pettitt discusses the role of Earth’s heat in the wider renewables industry and its relevance for the Energy Transition and Environmental Justice.
Will Pettitt, Executive Director, Geothermal Rising
Ubiquitous Energy

Earth’s heat is ubiquitous. It’s everywhere below our feet at all times. All we need to do is drill deep enough and we’ll access a limitless supply of energy, available anywhere and at any time.

That makes geothermal technologies very versatile. We can use that subsurface heat energy for power generation, direct heat use for communities, heavy industry, and commercial buildings, and geothermal heat pumps for heating and cooling residential properties and businesses.

When we consider this holistic view of using Earth’s heat then the possibilities become extraordinary, unique, and very exciting. It means that as we transition to a carbon-neutral world over the next few decades then geothermal energy will play a critical linchpin role.

Energy Transition Graphic
Energy Transition

The realization of that role has led to an acceleration of activity in the geothermal market that includes:

  • research, development, and demonstration of new technologies;
  • entrepreneurs and startup companies receiving more investment monies; and,
  • new partnerships being developed between governments, academia, and industry.

The geothermal community is a part of the wider renewables community. We need to work together as a renewables community to secure a successful transition to a clean and sustainable energy ecosystem for the good of our planet, our civilization, our economies, and our health and wellbeing across society.

The energy transition requires the following four actions to minimize the impact of climate change and build out an energy ecosystem that will work in practice:

  1. electrify everything we can in our daily lives;
  2. deliver zero-carbon, reliable, and sustainable electricity;
  3. optimize the efficiency of all our energy use; and,
  4. develop robust and long-term carbon and energy storage.

And we need to do these things with haste, which means we need to run all these actions in parallel and accelerate deployment in earnest. If we examine the opportunities for geothermal energy within the energy transition then we can understand how it will play that critical linchpin role.

Field of Wheat at Sunset with Golden Sun
Environmental Justice

As we build the technologies that enable scaling and accessibility of geothermal energy anywhere, at any time, then we have a huge opportunity to create impactful social and environmental justice due to Earth’s heat being widespread and technologically versatile.

Its 24/7 firm clean energy source provides reliability, resiliency, sustainability, and efficiency to a power grid that also uses intermittent energy sources and storage.

It will allow our power delivery to efficiently adapt to changing patterns of demand (diurnally and annually) as we electrify everything in our lives and robustly work through changing weather patterns and extreme weather events.

That same firm clean energy source will provide optimized heating and cooling efficiencies at different scales from an individual home to heavy industrial use.

With the help of an integrated and systemic energy policy that optimizes the use of all renewable technologies together then the decarbonization of heating and cooling, along with electrification and storage, will allow us to realistically make it to a 100% clean and renewable society.

Photo of Will Pettitt, Executive Director, Geothermal Rising
Dr. Will Pettitt, Executive Director -- Geothermal Rising