DOW Graduate Seminars: Moving Beyond a Fossil Fuel Dominated Energy System: Opportunities and Challenges

Event Date: February 5, 2008
Speaker: Dr. Ellen B. Stechel
Speaker Affiliation: Manager, Fuels and Energy Transitions, Sandia National Laboratories
Time: 3:30 - 4:30 pm
Location: FRNY G140

The rising costs, whether they derived from economic, environmental, security, availability, geo-political, or sustainability considerations are driving a new sense of urgency to move beyond fossil fuel dominated energy storage for secondary energy generation. This presentation will examine the drivers for and the consequent opportunities and challenges presented from a set of energy alternatives. Questions considered will include:

n      Do we have to forgo the hydrocarbon core of the energy system to move beyond fossil energy?

n      Do we have to make sacrifices such as less powerful and/or shorter-range vehicles, personal mobility?

n      Is carbon sequestration necessary during the transition or are there alternatives? Might we utilize waste CO2 or recycle CO2 as a carbon feedstock and is Biology the only way to do that?

n      Will Solar and in particular concentrated solar energy remain “niche” or become mainstream energy generation; might concentrated solar serve as a scalable primary energy source for power, heat, and fuels.

n      Can microgrids and “smart” integration of renewables (Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Biomass, Small Nuclear Reactors, fuel cells, etc.) achieve “economies of scale” and compete with giant Centralized fossil fuel based power plants?