393320 Grand Challenges for Energy Production in the 21st Century

Monday, November 17, 2014: 8:30 AM
International B (Marriott Marquis Atlanta)
John C. Crittenden and Arka Pandit, Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

Among the many challenges that are being faced by the 21st century professionals, provision of energy to a growing urban population in a manner that does not overwhelm the natural cycles, is one of the more crucial ones. Global energy production faces three grand challenges. First is the need to decarbonize the energy production. Current energy related carbon emission accounts for more than half of the global carbon emission of 10 GtC per year. Second, there is the imperative need to manage the demand side. Even if we can radically decarbonize our energy, with the escalating demand we are likely to surpass the Earth’s sustaining capacity. Last but definitely not the least; global energy production should take into account its impacts on other resources such as water, a dependency that has often been overlooked.

While the challenges are daunting indeed, the consequences of inaction would be much severe. This presentation would provide an overview of these grand challenges and would propose some potential solutions to address these challenges (for example, fusion power, PV, smart grid, storage: water, flow batteries, pump storage, geothermal, concentrated solar, and hydroelectric including tradition and low head, wave and tidal technologies, etc.). Since more than half of the global population is urban and the trend is increasing, addressing the energy issues at the urban infrastructure system level can have a significant impact in moving towards the solutions. Notwithstanding the importance of innovative materials and technologies, oftentimes consequential benefits can be achieved by reorganizing the current infrastructure system using current materials and technologies. In order to reorganize the current urban infrastructure systems, we need an informed citizenry, understand the preference of our stakeholders and engineer suitable policy tools that complement the technological efforts. This presentation would also provide an overview of some of the results that we obtained for the Metro Atlanta region by simulating the effects of infrastructure reorganization.

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