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Energy companies are under high pressure with a lot of responsibility to transition quickly toward a low carbon economy. “Reaching global climate goals by 2050 is not easy and should be achieved collectively as an industry and individually”, Courtney Jermyn says. That’s why she took the initiative for a hackathon with the goal to develop solutions for the oil and gas industry. “We want to leverage current knowledge and technology to accelerate the energy transition. It’s difficult, but we are here to help.”

Jermyn, a Canadian living in the Netherlands, has almost two decades of international experience in geological and geotechnical projects for energy (oil & gas, offshore wind), mining, built environment, and public sectors. More recently, she has focused on Energy and Sustainability markets developing knowledge in various renewable energy sectors; hydrogen, wind, and geothermal in particular. “I am also actively developing ways to accelerate innovative solutions to support the energy transition to reach global sustainability goals.”

The Transformathon – that’s how Jermyn’s Unesco-supported initiative is called – is clearly part of that effort. With the goal to develop real solutions, “the Transformathon is an initiative supported by like-minded people who are on a mission to inspire and raise the bar on innovation for a sustainable future and bring effective solutions to the market as quickly as possible.”

Courtney Jermyn

During a series of hackathon events, Jermyn wants to bring together a large international network of ambitious professionals, business delegates, and students from various disciplines who recognize that urgent climate action is required. “Over a weekend, participants will form small multidisciplinary teams and be guided by expert mentors and trainers from the industry. Everyone will work together under one combined online platform to challenge and address some of the energy industry’s toughest questions.”

Jermyn looks at it as “the first episode” of a journey that can accelerate innovation for a sustainable future. “For the first episode, titled Transformathon-The Journey Begins, I want to stress the importance of working together with the oil and gas industry in this effort. We have to create one energy ecosystem, by sharing and leveraging what we already know and trying to combine that with the knowledge from other industries. This way, you will find the gaps – and the right solutions to fill them.”

“We have to create one energy ecosystem, by sharing and leveraging what we already know and trying to combine that with the knowledge from other industries. This way, you will find the gaps – and the right solutions to fill them.”

Courtney Jermyn

It’s not only about technology, Jermyn adds. “There are some lessons from history as well. Look at the sixteenth century for example. At that time, many regions like Europe and UK for example were heavily forested; nobody expected forests would become so sparse but by cutting down trees to keep up with the demand, unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. The same could be said about when we started using oil; you find out that your original idea was less sustainable than was first anticipated. We are at a critical point as we move forward with renewables as well. How can we learn from past experiences? Solving one problem by creating another is not what we want. Let’s take that thought into the hackathon as well. Where are the gaps that still need to be filled? Not to take them as negatives but as opportunities to move forward in a smarter way.” After a short silence: “The oil and gas industry started with good intentions in mind but unfortunately, the impact of fossil fuels on our environment is too great and change is needed. Now we know better, so let’s move forward.”

© Transformathon

The Transformathon will consist of three stages. “First, there will be a couple of pre-event speaker series, full of industry insights and inspiration. Open to the public, also to watch later. Then, there’s the main event: the hackathon on the weekend of 5 to 7 March. Participants will derive solutions in small teams. Registration can be submitted by individuals or pre-defined teams. Everyone entering on their own will be placed on a team so no one will be left behind. The solutions that come out on Sunday will be presented and some of them will be awarded. And finally, we have the post-event, an opportunity for the winners to meet with investors and companies that may be interested in the new ideas.”

All of the networking events will be digital, via Wonder, a tool Jermyn started to love during the pandemic, most of all because it offers a far better feeling of being together than most other online networking tools. “It brings the ‘natural feeling’ of engagement that is so often missing in virtual environments. Participants are given the control of who they would like to engage in the room, not a facilitator.” 

Bring on the change that’s needed

Jermyn is aware that the energy transition will not be solved after this episode of Transformathon. Still, she hopes for real results. “Of course, I hope for a couple of useful proofs-of-concept or prototypes. But, on another level, if we will be able to identify the opportunities to bridge the gaps between human activity and natural systems, I think we have really succeeded. I hope the participants will be able to see the bigger picture. Let’s all do what’s within our own power – that’s how we can bring on the change that’s needed.”

More information on the Transformathon – which is supported by UNESCO-IGCP & Earth Science Matters – can be found on the website.