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WGC 2020+1 gets underway with a positive international response


The 13th/14th April saw the much-anticipated start of the World Geothermal Congress 2020+1 presentation sessions.

Overall statistics are impressive for such an international virtual event: during the 18 hour period over 1200 people participated, there were more than 200 presentations with representatives from 94 countries. At any one time between 600 and 1000 people were participating in sessions

As it now stands the Congress has 1500 registrants and 5,000 individuals (unique visitors) have entered the website. Some 1900 papers have been pre-recorded and are available on line largely through Roland Horne’s amazing efforts.

On the first day of presentations New Zealand was well represented with 23 papers and a number of us acting as session chairs.

While the challenge of virtual interactions and some difficulties in watching the (pre-recorded) presentations while waiting as a panel for the Q&A follow-up are noted, others found the panels a positive opportunity to interact with a range of authors and discussions prompted by questions from the audience.

Some feedback includes:

"I presented at a session and Chaired a session this week – two quite different experiences but I enjoyed them both.  In terms of technology, I found the system super easy to use and navigate – and I love the fact that you can dive in and out of the session as/when suits to watch the ones that are of interest.

"I really enjoyed the session that I presented with – especially the time spent as a group ‘waiting’ for the live feed to kick in.  The conversation we had was robust, exciting and informative – and I felt as connected to my fellow presenters as I have at other in-person events."

"Ours went fine - Alexander chaired it. But as a panelist it felt completely separate- we had no idea if there was anyone there, if anyone had viewed the session, if anyone was asking questions etc. It just felt like Alexander and the four of us having a chat for an hour."

"I had a great experience – I both chaired and presented in sessions.

"The platform is super slick and easy to navigate from a participant perspective. Being able to watch the presentations, pausing, swapping presentations etc was easy and it looked really professional. Having the option to watch them when I have time makes life easier too (I’d never get to watch as many if they were live or in person).

"I think the live panel worked well, we had good conversations on both Q&A panels we were on and received relevant questions from Slido – people were obviously engaged and asking questions during our discussion. That interaction between presenters isn’t usually something that happens at conferences, as its usually 5min Q&A with an individual. I enjoyed meeting the other presenters and talking to them in the holding room (before we went live).  I think by having us all in the same space we had engaging conversations with each other on the session topic. Well we thought so anyway."

"My session was OK, Chaired by Juliet and 4 others in attendance. Unfortunately we could not listen to our talks, we just had to cool our heels in waiting room for about 1/2hr or so and have a chat. That was ok. Only Juliet could see the questions, which she found a bit difficult as she was only on her laptop and really needed two screens. The speakers couldn’t see questions so she had to relay then to us. Nor could she how many had tuned in. Juliet was a good Chair and fired off a few questions herself to keep things going. It was a little bit flat but I guess that’s the nature of it. I thought it may have been more like the webinar series Jacobs did with Ormat last year. We could see who was online, see the questions etc and there was good engagement. But overall, certainly a task I wouldn’t want to be in charge of! Good effort by the OC though."

"Following my presentation, I found the panel particularly constructive.  My session had a mix of topics and a multinational panel of presenters, ably chaired by Caity Smith of NREL.  Would never have had this interaction, mix of thoughts and good number of audience questions; a point I raised in my paper was used as a question from the audience to another panelist. This would not have been likely in a live-session and it all happened between 8am and 10am NZ time!"

We will feed back the reactions to the organising committee but would encourage you to dip into the WGC2020+1 website and experience the presentation platform and the ease of access to papers. Let us know what you think.

There is still work being done on the platform at large and we continue to work with the OC to see how we can reinforce our New Zealand presence – watch this space but also take the time to support the excellent work that the OC are achieving under what we all recognise are pretty tough conditions.

~ Paul Siratovich and Mike Allen



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