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SMU Geothermal Lab: Powers Plays Conference
February 17, 2016
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May 28, 2016

SMU Power Plays Conference Review

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The SMU Geothermal Lab hosted their 8th Power Plays: Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas Fields conference on April 25 and 26th on campus at SMU in Dallas, Texas.  The event drew over 120 attendees, sponsors and speakers, making this event significant despite both industries operating at relatively low points domestically.

Dallas Morning News Reporter, Jeffrey Weiss put it best, “The event pulled together an unusual mix: Academics, oil company bosses, people hawking heat-transfer equipment, geothermal experts and a few environmentalists.”  We believe it takes a unique mix of energy thought leaders to push these innovations towards becoming commercially viable, scalable projects nationwide.

This year was the first time in seven previous conferences, where the O&G attendees outnumbered those from the geothermal industry.  This was an encouraging milestone, as it’s the O&G industry that must be further educated of the opportunities for energy development, waste reduction and cost savings from these efficiency initiatives.

Sponsors such as Anadarko, InnerGeo LLC, Deep River Group LLC, SMU Cox Maguire Energy Institute and Society of Petroleum Engineers were instrumental in providing a platform for the new technologies, projects and research to be presented.  Having their support further adds to the credibility of these efforts and the Power Plays conference itself.

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Pictured: Tom Williams of NREL and Susan Petty of AltaRock Energy at the 2016 SMU Power Plays conference.  Photo by Andrés Ruzo.

Many people were quoted, attributing this conference as ground zero for the evolution of their companies, business development leads and or funding opportunities. Companies such as LoCap Energy and Helidyne LLC are in existence today due to the SMU Power Plays Conference and the energy leaders it attracts.  Miguel Ángel Benítez Torreblanca, with iiDEA Group said, “This conference has been a great opportunity to be involved and noticed in the geothermal industry, share our projects and collaborate with international partners, making it a must when it comes to geothermal events.”

Notable highlights from a packed day of technical presentations include; Timothy Reinhardt with the DOE, outlining additional Energy Funding Opportunities; Susan Petty with Alta Rock illustrating how Coal Power Plants  waste water can be converted to geothermal power; Will Gosnold with the University of North Dakota sharing their recent success of geothermal power generation on an O&G field in North Dakota (received a standing ovation); and Chad Augustine’s insight on how to compare and communicate the fundamental differences between O&G and Geothermal Energy to streamline cross-industry collaboration.

Halley Dickey, Vice President for Industrial Builders said, “I’ve been attending the SMU Power Plays Conference since the beginning.  What Dave Blackwell and Maria Richards have done is nothing short of extraordinary.  They have engaged the entire geothermal community in supporting, exploring and developing both old and new technologies in extracting useable grid power from oil and gas byproducts; geo-fluids and geo-pressured gas, to create new opportunities for geothermal participants to develop those resources into power.  This year we saw a new sophistication beyond low temp coproduced fluids, into the advancement of well design technologies as well as alternative revenue streams from frac-water and co-produced brine.  With the support of the DOE and the National Labs, it is exciting to still be a part of this cutting edge leadership.”

Torreblanca, continued with, “The SMU Power Plays conference gathers leading members of the geothermal community including government, academia and private industry. The informal atmosphere brings out the conversation naturally, making you feel among friends after meeting with past and new attendees.”

The quality of the posters, productivity of the networking reception, interest level and excitement from the technical presentations left all who attended rejuvenated with hope and vigor to continue the development of geothermal energy from oil and gas fields.

The SMU Geothermal Lab, led by Dr. Matthew Hornbach and Maria Richards, continues to be the catalyst that effectively bridges the gap between the geothermal and oil and gas industries.  Perhaps, it’s their proximity – being in the heart of oil land, with an academic focus on a geothermal resource not traditional to the Central Time Zone, or it’s Maria Richard’s infectious personality coupled by the Geothermal Lab Student’s groundbreaking work.  Either way, the SMU Power Plays conference delivers each time, regardless of the states of the industries.

For more information on this or previous conferences, visit www.smu.edu/geothermal and watch the Periscope Twitter feeds @GeoEnergyMrktg.