Tag Archives: geothermal

Fish, frogs and caviar

Today started with a run in Twin Falls along the top of the Snake River canyon which was stunning scenery.  I’m trying get some exercise at least every second day to help me sleep at night, maintain energy for the long days and see some of real America by footpath or trail. Here’s the view down into the Snake River (favourite spot of base jumpers).

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Today was ‘aquaculture’ day, with Idaho having over 100 freshwater fish farms with some utilising geothermal energy.  By comparison, most of New Zealand’s aquaculture is marine based, with some freshwater operations such as the Huka Prawn Park and the National Trout Centre.

First up was Steve from the College of Southern Idaho who showed me their trout and sturgeon operations.  Pretty amazing to see a 2.5 metre long sturgeon and to think of that cruising around in rivers (they don’t have teeth!).

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We then toured a geothermal fish farm at Canyon Springs which produces tilapia.  Dave generously offered for me to try out Zip the Snake but unfortunately I ran out of time.  Steve also gave me a glimpse of his frog farm, which was full of innovation.

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Next up was Ron, Professor at the University of Idaho, director of the Hagerman Fish Culture Experiment Station and director of the University of Idaho’s Aquaculture Research Institute.  He is a guru on fish nutrition and aquaculture in general, and gave a great insight into the history of the Idaho aquaculture industry and what may lay in store for aquaculture in the future.  Plant based food has been a real area of focus on innovative research.

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To wrap up the day I finished with Leo from Fish Breeders of Idaho, who farms trout, tilapia and sturgeon.  He used to farm alligators too but the couple he has left were a bit shy today.  In his late 70’s, Leo has been there and done that and shared some great thoughts on putting customers first, focusing on service and quality and the importance of risk taking to create value.  Leo’s firm harvest caviar from the Sturgeon, which can take 10 years to produce, which is quite a wait but worth it for the price!

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By 6pm, facing a 2 hour drive my head was spinning but the time on the road to Boise gave me time to contemplate today.  Several things struck a chord:

  • The involvement of the education organisations in research and partnering with industry on both products and training people.
  • Clever entrepreneurs who have transformed natural resources into value added products by pioneering, risk taking and continued innovation.

Broader themes are emerging around entrepreneurship, small business and workforce development.  Today was a great example of results from collaboration with business, research/education and government.  How well do we work with others and what could be possible when everyone collaborates?

Another full day tomorrow and then the weekend for some much needed downtime.

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Road tripping

Today I travelled over 460 miles which is well over 700km, so it’s timely I post about roading – both the serious and light-hearted side.  I started in Reno, Nevada which is like the Desert Road and finished in Twin Falls, Idaho which is like a cross between Waikato and Canterbury.  In between is massive wide open spaces that pictures just don’t do justice. Photo of the freeway in Nevada…

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Geothermal Development Associates

This mornings meeting was with Geothermal Development Associates in Reno.  Martin and David are gentlemen and pioneers in the geothermal industry, having started their business in 1978.  They do a considerable amount of work offshore and have a strong connection to New Zealand through working with companies and involvement with the New Zealand Geothermal Association.  They gave some excellent insights into geothermal direct use, my favourite of which was fruit and vegetable dehydration.  They walk the talk with ground source heat pumps for cooling and heating in their own building.

Now back to transport…

You can’t help but travel on the freeways in the United States and marvel at them.  The ones I have been on range between 2 and 6 lanes.  The size and design of the roads combined with courteous driving enables the speed limits to be up to 75 miles per hour, which is 120km.  There’s nothing like going 120km and having trucks barrelling past you like you are standing still, but then again I haven’t driven on an Autobahn either!  I compare my trip today with the stretch from Bulls to Wellington in New Zealand…well enough said!  I’ve had one toll so far – $5…and for the standard of roads I don’t mind paying (at least you are not charged tax on top like most other things so far).

What you see and who you meet along the way

Three highlights today of things I saw today:

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  • For anyone worried about property prices, you can go and live on green saddle ranch at these great prices…

And the people…I’m stumbling my way through simple tasks like lifting fuel nozzles and pressing buttons for drinks.  So far every time people have been more than obliging to help the hapless Kiwi.  Even when I refused a homeless person some change, the polite response was “God Bless” (I can’t bring myself to blog on homeless just yet).

So, how about that New Zealand’s roading network?  Roads can better connect people and business while reducing transport costs, travel time and accidents.  Does that outweigh communities like Pokeno that lose out when the fast road goes through…what would happen if there was a freeway between Auckland and Wellington for example?

The pack of cards…when in Reno

Another full on day with a lot driving made easier with the freeways, beautiful scenery and very welcoming people.

Sacramento County

I sought out Rami as he was recently named one of the Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Doers by Govtech and Sacromento County has won numerous tech awards.  We discussed digital government and I came away with a huge amount of confidence that the team at Taupo is on the right track.  Current and future focuses centre around regular website refreshes, the need for mobile apps, linking data (e.g. Crime and graffiti), the intersection of Geospatial and data and a single view for customers.

Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy, Carson City

Paul the Director and his team hosted me in the early afternoon for a quick overview of Nevada energy.  I was primarily interested in geothermal, given Nevada is the number one in installed geothermal per capita and Taupo’s strength in this area.  A highlight was by pure chance meeting and talking with Governor Paul Sandoval and witnessing the launch of the Nevada Electric Highway.  Note the highway “is expected to link rural areas and bring business to those communities from EV owners who make the stop to charge their cars”.  Electric vehicles are going to take off in some shape or form and communities should be taking action now to dip their toe in the water, ready to embrace what may become the norm.

Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN), Reno

Mike graciously shared his views on economic development and they have definitely stepped it up a level from when we last spoke in 2013. Mike is incredibly humble, and our meeting was definitely a lesson in leadership. EDAWN has five key strategies: retain and grow, attract, entrepreneurship, workforce development and community development.  What also impressed me was their great handle on metrics to track progress.  When Mike started there was 14% unemployment and now it’s down to half that and going lower.  A very bright future is on the horizon with Tesla building their gigafactory which will create 6500 jobs!  Their entrepreneurship program started from scratch and won Innovation Ecosystem Award.  A gem they showed me was the Reno startup deck which is an innovative way of integrating Reno’s gaming history and useful tools for startups – genius!

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