A tribute to Ladsi Rybach

‘Ladsi Rybach is one of the best known and respected proponents of geothermal energy in the world today. He has worked tirelessly on behalf of the geothermal in Europe and through his efforts at the International Energy Agency and the International Geothermal Association his influence has been felt everywhere’

IEA-GIA Executive Committee, Bali, Indonesia, April 2010

Have you ever met someone and instantly felt that you are in the presence of someone bigger and wiser than you? Well, this is how I felt, when I first met Ladsi. Working at the IGA I’ve heard his name many times, of course. But hearing and ‘experiencing’ are two different things.

Being a true professional and simply a wonderful human being, Ladsi emits sparks of wisdom and tranquillity. Graceful and intelligent and a gentleman as he is, he always acts with poise when interacting with people. And how could it be different, if he is full of passion for what he does. Ladsi is one of the key people standing at the source of the geothermal energy and the IGA. A founding member of the International Geothermal Association, he has served the IGA Board for more than 18 years (which is more than the half of the IGA existence!) having a position of both President and Vice-President and still being active as a Committee member.
Founding members of the IGA, Castelnuovo/Italy, May 1989

His passion for geothermal is hard to overestimate. Trained as a geophysicist, he was a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich and led the research group ‘Geothermics and Radiometry’ for more than 20 years. He has also founded a successful consulting group GEOWATT, which is still present on the market (www.geowatt.com). His achievements list is far too long, but some of his most memorable traces include more than 500 publications, about 100 geothermal conferences attended and special contribution to the high-level reports and papers including IPCC Special Report to mitigate Climate Change (2008), and of course his world-class geothermally-famous concert during WGC 2005.

Oh yes, have I mentioned that he is a professional conductor? For several decades Ladsi was the Musical Director of Orchesterverein Zurich. The special concert during WGC 2005 in Antalya, Turkey was one of his numerous concerts he has conducted in and out of Europe. The musical pieces of W. A. Mozart, J. Brahms and R. Wagner and of Turkish composers became alive under his baton.

Though having a thorny life, especially at the young age, changing countries, being a refugee, this brilliant person embraced it all and what’s more important saved his witty and special sense of humour. ‘Oh listen, I have a funny joke to tell! I remember once…’, – this is what you normally will hear from him. And be prepared to enjoy an amusing story somehow related to the Geothermal Community.

Ladsi’s entry to geothermal started initially in the early 1970s from his engagement in uranium exploration. He got acquainted with the radioactive heat generation of rocks. From there he came to work with heat flow (was active in the International Heat Flow Commission 1975-1987 and 1995-2003) and understood the relevance of this energy source. Now, he is sure that geothermal energy should play a role that corresponds to its great resource potential and when talking about his passion for geothermal, he always says: ‘But it’s down there, everywhere! Just use it for God’s sake!’.

His main interests in geothermal lie in the sphere of ground source heat pumps, sustainability and EGS. Right now, Ladsi is 84 years old, retired (but not tired!) and lives in Switzerland with his wife Ruth and son Manuel (a banker).

What did I want to say with this IGA Special? I believe, it is important to find the time to acknowledge and thank people we meet now and then. Last year, I’ve met an outstanding advocate of geothermal and I would like to thank him on behalf of the IGA and the Global Geothermal Community for bringing geothermal to the forefront of the international stage and reminding us that we still have a long way to go. Thank you, Ladsi.

May the geothermal warmth will heat your heart and home for many years to come.

From IGA with #lovegeothermal,

p.p. IGA Team