In a packed conference room, Frank Princiotta of the EPA led off the Sustainable Energy Plenary and conveyed the dire situation we face in the sustainability realm. Like Dickens' Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, he presented possible projections of our future - "Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?"
Haroon S. Kheshgi highlighted the magnitude of uncertainty that we have in climate sensitivity based on a variety of factors. Though the projections give educated guesses on where we could be at in 2020, 2050 and 2100, the exact situation is hard to predict as global policies are being developed and whether these policies will be followed or achieved. He did highlight that since 1990 we have made improvements in energy use--developing new technologies to use our resources more efficiently (more efficient vehicles for example)--but we need to continue to improve.
Nuclear energy was one option that kept arising throughout the session along with CCS (Carbon Capture & Storage). But as Pinciotta stated in his opening presentation "there is no silver bullet", and because of this, we need to be open to different options and need to pursue many types of technologies and researc. It will likely be a combination of renewable energies and CO2 mitigation strategies that will help us move in the right direction.
In Costas Tsouris's presentation Toward Energy Sustainability he spoke both about how and where we might be able to store captured carbon and the costs associated with CCS in contrast with other energy options. CCS isn't a new form of energy, just a method to remove the harmful CO2 produced by the standard Coal Power Plants. Nuclear and Wind power are a different way to create energy that does not produce carbon dioxide like the standard fossil fuel burning plants.
Ku Zilati Ku Shaari traveled over 30 hours from the Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP) in Malaysia for this Annual Meeting. UTP has mission oriented research toward the goals of green technology and sustainability. In her presentation The Development of CFD Modeling of Fluidized Bed Gasifier for Biomass Gasification, Ku Shaari analyzed typical biomass sources in Malaysia for her models and showed that her models accurately described the behavior of actual experiments. Her findings help optimize the conditions under which hydrodynamic fluidized bed can aid in producing more H2 from biomass (i.e. temperature or adsorbent use).
As from Dickens' A Christmas Carol: "Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead," said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!"