MIT Energy Initiative Forum Notes
Notes from MIT Energy Initiative Forum Luncheon - 1/11/2007
by User:Roadrunner - feel free to ask me any questions about this transcript
Part of page on Topic:MIT Energy Initiative
Held with in conjunction with Petroleum Club on the 43rd floor of the Exxon Mobil headquarters in Houston, Texas with the Society of Petroleum Engineers.
Talk given by Robert Armstrong - Associate Director of MIT Energy Initiative - Head of Chemical Engineering Department
Intro to MIT Enterprise Forum. Founded in 1978 by MIT alumni. No restriction on membership.
President Hockfield set up energy as one of two priorities for MIT (the other was merging life and physical sciences).
Set up Energy Research Council - from all schools in MIT
ERC started Energy Initiative in 9/2006
Why it is complicate
- Few people interested in technical
- Most people interested in energy services
- US household 3-4% spend on energy services
- Energy Council - included two former US Undersecretaries of Energy
- Why MIT - MIT founded on using tech to benefit society, good at cross discipline, good at moving technology to industry, good at partnering with governments
- Energy - supply and demand
- Energy and security
- Energy and the environment
World use of energy 450 EJ/years 14 Terawatts
Will double next century
1.4 billion no electricity next century
50 year time scale for change
Developing world. As GDP increases energy will increase but....
Efficiency is important. US uses more energy per GDP than Europe
It will make a big difference (10% of world energy usage) if China uses energy like US or Europe
It takes about 50 years to replace energy use. Because it is a *big* infrastructure..
Renewables 4% of energy use
Solar photovolatics 1 part per million now.
Need to start research now to change by mid century
Energy and security
- oil and gas may not be enough - oil companies have 20 year estimates of supply. No one is willing to give 50 year estimates
- delivery systems are vulnerable
- nuclear has proliferation issues
- natural disasters
Oil and gas and security
Core issue: Demand is inelastic
What we can do - increase diversity of supply - weaken demand - efficient vehicles, coal and natural gas, hydrogen economy ???
Energy and environment
The scientific debate is no longer about whether man made climate change is happening. The question is how much CO2 levels will need to rise before some really catastrophic happens. Best guess is that CO2 can raise another factor of 2.
How do we decarbonize energy....
Average temperature of earth is rising. 19 or 20 warmest winters since 1980. It is almost the warmest it has been in the last million years.
Impact of climate change
- rising sea levelsre
- great ocean conveyor belt keeps C02 in ocean for 1000 years
what to do...
low carbon or carbon less and CO2 capture
50 year time frame
- What is energy infrastructure like in 50 years
- resource availablity?
- science and technology advances
Energy Research Council recommendation:
- Work on multiple technology and scenarios to maximize number of policy options
MIT - a phased initiative
- It all depends on what faculty want to work on
- three themes
- Work on breakthrough technology
- Work on improving today's energy systems
- Work on systems design and public policy for emerging world
Example of what MIT is doing
Biomass as a major source of liquid fuelds. 1.3B tons of biomass -> 45 B fuel
What changed? Why is this now viable
1995-2005 hydrolysis costs $1/gal -> 0.10/gal
1990-2005 - new field of metabolic engineering, you can now program cells to generate a given product
Example: Survey of public attitudes
Large shift in global warming attitudes 2003-2006
global warming now top concern
people who want something to be done is now 71%
- and people are willing to pay for it*
What are you willing to pay to stop global warming
2003 - $14/month 2006 - $21/month
Might not sound like much, but that works out to $20B/year, more than DOE energy research budget $2B/year
Carbon free energy 14 TW
difficult problem. Nukes not the only solution. We'd have to build one new nuclear plant *each day* to keep up with increase in energy demand
What people are working on
MIT - multiple technologies GE - fuel cells DuPont - biofuel conversation Eastman Kodak - sulfur based carbon sequestration
Do you think that global warming is caused by human activities?
I'm optimistic that problem can be solved
Demand side - light vehicles with nanomaterials
supply side - renewables - however it will take lots of effort and time to scale renewables up to current energy level, and we need to understand consequences