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September 3, 2008
By Alix Cirac
The Geothermal Resources Council (GRC) invites exhibitors from around the world to showcase their projects in geothermal research, exploration, development and utilization at its annual meeting Oct. 5-8. The conference, "Geothermal - Gaining Steam," as well as pre-meeting workshops, will be held at the Peppermill Resort and Spa in Reno.
Lisa Shevenell, the general chairman of the conference, is director of the Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy at the University of Nevada, Reno. The center works in partnership with U.S. industry to establish geothermal energy as a sustainable, environmentally sound, economically competitive contributor to energy supply in the western United States.
Nevada is at the forefront of geothermal energy, according to Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN). The state produces more energy per capita than any other. It also leads with 45 current geothermal projects, ahead of California's 21.
The 2007 conference brought people from 28 countries, and similar representation is expected this year. Shevenell and her GRC committee counterparts are expecting 1,200 people at this year's meeting. This number is a sharp increase from last year's 725 attendees. According to Shevenell, the increase is representative of the skyrocketing interest in the field and the topic as the country and international community face critical energy issues.
"International interest in geothermal energy has been exploding the last couple of years," Shevenell said.
The Geothermal Energy Association's (GEA) trade show will be taking place during the conference, with more than 70 exhibitors. International keynote speakers will address hot topics in the field, and there will be five pre-meeting workshops for attendees.
Industry professionals, employers and venture capitalists make up the largest group of attendees. However, because of increasing interest and the fact that the field and workforce needs are growing, it is anticipated educators will also attend.
Included in the workshops is a session called "Introduction to Geothermal Energy," that will take place Oct. 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The organizing committee designed the workshop for kindergarten through 12th-grade educators, though it is open to anyone with an interest in the field.
Other workshops include "Geothermal Reservoir Evaluation," "Basics of Geothermal Development," a GEA/GRC co-sponsored "Geothermal Issues and Outlook" workshop and a Bureau of Land Management sponsored workshop on "Royalty Conversion for Producing Geothermal Leases."
Attendees will also be able to take field trips to the area's geothermal projects. A two-day field trip features the volcanic and geothermal history of Mount Lassen, about 140 miles and 2 ½ hours northwest of Reno. A half-day trip offers attendees a chance to visit the Steamboat Hills Geothermal Complex, one of Ormat Technologies' facilities. Plus, participants have the opportunity to spend a day soaking in one of the area's many natural, hot springs locations - David Walley's Resort & Spa in Genoa, Nevada.