"Transforming Energy" Lecture Series Launches
Jefferson Tester, Meissner Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT’s Laboratory for Energy and the Environment, delivered the first “Transforming Energy” lecture on September 15 in the Kim Engineering Building. His talk was titled, “Transitioning to a Sustainable Energy System—evolving roles of renewable energy sources.”
Dr. Tester, envisioning the transition from the “age of hydrocarbons” to a “new energy destination,” cited economics and quality of life, national and international security, and the environment as the three key issues to be resolved in developing a new energy system.
His recommendation was to “start over” in searching for the right combination of energy sources, using criteria such as depletability, environmental impact, accessibility/distribution, emissions, scalability and dispatch-ability (for demand peaks). Fossil fuels would be depletable and poorly distributed; fissile fuels would have no emissions but offer waste and safety concerns; fusion would perhaps be an excellent solution, but is 50 years away; renewable sources—solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and hydrothermal—currently offer low quality and availability.
His focus was on geothermal and biomass, and the opportunities and challenges they represent. He presented information to support the idea that geothermal energy offered the best likelihood for success with the least amount of government funding, but that funding today was not being seriously considered. He saw biomass energy as potentially useful, but requiring significant change to U.S. agriculture, forestry and waste management and a large environmental impact.
Visit the lecture series web site for details about future lectures.
September 15, 2006