12 November 2018    

Elevator Speech on Geothermal Heat Power – by Paul Thomsen, Ormat Technologies

Transcript Geothermal Heat Power – elevator speech

Moderator: Paul is the Executive Director for Government and Regulatory Affairs

Paul Thomsen, Ormat:

“Thank you all

When you talk to people about geothermal. Don’t talk to them for an hour…or two hours or tell them everything you’ve ever known about geothermal. We want to get them involved.

My introduction, I’ve worked for Ormat for about 8,5 years, then I went to the dark side and worked for the state of Nevada as the governor’s energy advisor and then I was the chairman of the public utilities commission. I worked on the private sector side, I worked on the policy and implementation side, I worked on the regulatory side and now I’ve come back to Ormat. Through those 15 years we talk a lot to legislators, and they may not be the best example, but if you don’t talk at a third-grade level, your message will be lost. And so, I think what many of us do in this room and what many of us do out there in all these sessions is that we try to explain everything in our first encounter. We need to stop doing that.

When you have the elevator speech, it’s not that the person in the elevator should understand everything that you’re talking about. But they should say, I want to come back to that person and learn more and try to figure it out.

Number 1- Geothermal is Valuable

We hear all the time- It’s too expensive, the price needs to come down. We can talk about that, but the value of geothermal today is unparallel. Today geothermal is worth more than solar – full stop. If you want to read papers and papers about it, you can. The value of geothermal is increasing, and it has done so since 2014. Did you know that? Solar when it first came online was great, it was producing power in the middle of the day, during the peak. California then went crazy. Developed 19,5 GWs of solar and all of a sudden, it’s energy value plummeted. Intermittent resource in the middle of the day, you don’t need more of it. So, Our value is increasing.

Capacity. Capacity factor no one even understands, but if they say, what about capacity, let’s go down that road. Geothermal has about a 95% capacity factor, what does that mean? We need to think about our terminology. No legislator in the world knows what a capacity factor is. Say it runs 95% of the time, and they go wow, and it produces electricity 95% of the time.

It’s cost effective.

The CPUC in California is currently procuring geothermal, and at the end of the day, compared to all other resources in California the CPUC says that we can cost effectively develop 2000 MW of geothermal. It actually goes a step further, they want to see 2000 MW of geothermal being procured by their investor of utilities.

It works well with others

I think we should be careful with this. There is a bit of us vs them mentality and that can get awkward in an elevator if you are talking to a solar developer or a legislator from Kansas.

There’s no silver bullet.

This is the profile of a solar project with storage. The end all be all to save the world. You see a pretty prominent curve, because the suns radiance changes throughout the year. It charges the batteries differently throughout the year. So what’s a good profile that matches this? Ah, that’s a geothermal profile. You don’t have to explain the details in the solar profile it’s just that it matches well when solar is not producing, geothermal tends to be producing power. And if you want to see an increase in the renewable portfolio – and you talk to people who want to go 100% renewable, we need o develop all of these resources.

No CO2 Emissions

The California Air resource board defined that geothermal facilities that have a direct use or closed loop as carbon free.

I think we should keep the message simple, which means it’s either low emissions or no emissions. I like no emissions. If you want to talk to me about the geysers or a flash plant that has minute emissions, let’s have it. But I get you hooked if I say – It has no emissions. It’s a fully flexible baseload resource with no emissions.

Small environmental footprint

I think the picture is worth a thousand words. My short answer is – It takes up 22 times less surface disturbance than solar. This is a real project  in  Austin, Nevada. Takes up 146 acres in disturbance. An equivalent solar project would take up 3200 acres.

WHAT! You can raise sheep right on top of the project? Are you kidding me? We have farmers raising sheep right at the foot of our power plant.

Can geothermal do this, can it do that, can it provide flexible capacity, can it provide regulation, can you ramp it up, can you stop it can you start it. Yes, yes yes yes yes yes yes It’s amazing, it’s a phenomenal resource and it’s so much fun to talk about

So, when you leave here today

Geothermal is


It’s cost effective

Works well with others

Has no emissions

Has a tiny environmental foot print

And it can do THAT

These are the “take aways” you all can do in an elevator – and get the conversation started

Did I get done in time?”

Nota bene: He did get done in time

Follow Paul Thomsen, Vice President Of Business Development at Ormat Technologies, Inc on LinkedIn and Twitter

(Paul has since the film was recorded been promoted to “Vice President of Business Development” at Ormat Technologies)

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