In our 4th issue of the Energy Branding & Marketing Insights newsletter, [subscribe here if you haven’t already] we interview a true leader in geothermal and engineering in Mexico, Ing. Magaly Flores Armenta, Gerente de Ingenieria Espescializada for CFE.
Each issue will feature a similar style of interview questions with a geothermal leader from around the world. Magaly provided the following response.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge we face in the geothermal industry?
M. Armenta: I consider the greatest challenges the geothermal industry faces today are related to the fact that we have not been able to reduce the cost of exploration and drilling for the purpose of confirming and extracting the resource. Although geothermal energy has been provided to us by mother nature, reaching it at competitive costs is still a gigantic effort, not only for new fields but to maintain the production of steam in sufficient quantities and quality to keep the turbines operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Q: What are you doing to help mitigate this challenge?
M. Armenta: We are currently at a disadvantage with other energy resources, due to the incredible attention intermittent sources such as solar and wind sources, and the attention of the international and national community has been focusing on strengthening them compared to geothermal energy. The geothermal community has always defended geothermal generation for being clean, renewable energy and for being the base load of electrical systems, but currently, this type of generation competes with highly efficient combined cycles, with low investment cost and with a fuel (natural gas) at very affordable prices and this has impacted a greater interest in the development of these types of projects over geothermal, and this happens both for electrical systems in Mexico and in the world.
So in order to answer your question regarding what I am doing to help to mitigate the described challenge, particularly in Mexico, resources have been allocated for the investigation of best practices and techniques to reduce the costs inherent in exploration and drilling. Another extremely important aspect is the continuous promotion and dissemination of the benefits of this resource since social opposition is raised often for both existing and probed sites impeding their development.
Furthermore, I consider that it is not a task that can be solved by a single person or group, but instead, it is a community effort, I dare say that it is an effort of international stature.
Q: What do expect most from our industry?
M. Armenta: I would expect a wider direct uses application around the world, bigger efforts around the future collaboration between the oil industry and geothermal, in order to achieve a more integral use of “hot water cutting” in geothermal wells, for the production of electrical energy through binary cycles, within the extraction of oil.
It would also be very interesting to see significant reductions in the investment cost of geothermal plants, as has happened in combined cycle projects using natural gas and solar projects.
Q: How important are public outreach, strategic marketing, and brand management to further promote and educate the public about our industry? And Why?
M. Armenta: Very important. Having the support of a specific public policy for broad diversification of the energy matrix, including geothermal energy of course, and avoiding dependence on a single or a group of specific technologies, in the long term is something that should be applied in all countries. To achieve this objective requires the involvement of universities, institutes and the acceptance of the general public, through education that provides basic but clear knowledge about what this industry consists of and what benefits it brings to society, not only in the form of electricity but also for its direct uses (heating, drying of wood, dehydration of fruits and vegetables, etc.). We should all continue to focus on this task to promote more geothermal generation, at the lowest possible cost and friendly to the environment and society.
This concludes our Q&A with Ing. Magaly Florea Armenta. A special thanks for your time with this interview and your leadership in geothermal.
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