Seminar Series

The Geothermal Energy Lab hosts a monthly seminar series of invited speakers from industry, academia, and government bodies.  Topics range from engineering to policy to social license.

October 21st, 2021 at 8:30 am

Crowdthermal: Public Engagement in Geothermal Projects

Thursday, October 21st

8:30 am – 10 am Mountain Daylight Time

CROWDTHERMAL aims to initiate a new form of public dialogue, during which it will be possible to jointly tackle concerns and increase interest in geothermal energy. The aim is to take public engagement to a new level, empowering citizens to directly participate in the development of geothermal projects with the help of alternative financing, such as crowdfunding. This will only be possible if public trust can be gained, and the transparency around geothermal projects (and their social and environmental impacts) can be maximised.

The development of geothermal energy or renewable energies in general is not just a technical matter. It is also very much a question of social change with impact on people’s everyday lives re­garding energy production, distribution and consumption. The importance of including the public in development and installation of new energy infrastructures has been increasingly recognized over the last years. This has been the reason for CROWDTHERMAL project to work on “Guidelines for public engagement” and “Social License to Operate”

The concept of Social License to Operate (SLO) is a derivative of “Corporate Social Responsibility” used extensively in the mining industries where having an SLO is an essential part of operating within democratic jurisdictions, as demonstrating sufficient “popular support” for a given project is likely to speed up bureaucratic procedures for obtaining operational permits or licenses.


Dr Isabel M Fernández Fuentes is the Coordinator for the project CROWDTHERMAL since September 2019. She is an engineering geologist, with 30 years of professional experience, graduated from the Granada University, 1987, Master Engineering Geology, 1990, and PhD in Geology, 1997, from the University Complutense in Madrid, Spain. Since 1988 she worked as a researcher in applied Geophysics in the Centre for Studies and Experimentation of the Ministry of Public Works, Madrid, Spain. From 2001 to 2019, she works for the European Federation of Geologists, EFG, covering expertise and professional input including geothermal energy, hydrogeology, mineral raw material, and environmental protection field. In 2008 she was appointed as Executive Director of EFG. Working with EFG, Isabel has coordinated and participated in different European projects, and supports the coordination of EFG’s Expert Groups, among other activities.

Dipl.-Psych. Jan Hildebrand is head of the Department of Environmental Psychology at IZES gGmbH since 2016. Before, he has been the team leader of the Environmental Psychology Research Group at the University of Saarland. His research interests include the acceptance of renewable energies and related energy infrastructures, conflicts and stakeholder perspectives in the energy sector as well as public participation processes and their psychological dimensions. Besides other projects, he is currently coordinating the research on public acceptance of PtX-technologies within the flagship project Kopernikus P2X and work on stakeholder engagement procedures connected to geothermal energy in the CROWDTHERMAL project.

Dr. Amel Barich is the lead of the Social License to Operate (SLO) task in the CROWDTHERMAL project. She is an earth scientist and works as the project manager at the GEORG Geothermal Research Cluster in Iceland. Dr. Barich is a metamorphic petrologist by background – she obtained her Ph.D. in Earth Science in 2015 from the University of Granada in Spain. She was a postdoctoral researcher and science coordinator at the Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences in Potsdam, Germany in 2016. Between 2014 and 2018, Dr. Barich served as Councilor in the executive board of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), and as the Secretary-General of the International Association of Geoethics (IAGETH). Dr. Barich is working since 2018 on projects related to geothermal energy, including geological carbon capture and storage, magma research, policy, and social sciences