How do we meet world’s energy needs?
Vail, CO Colorado
BEAVER CREEK – There’s no question there are enough resources available in the world to support population growth and a growing energy need, but converting those sources into usable, affordable and environmentally sensitive forms of energy is a question that remains to be answered.
That’s what Dr. Franklin Orr, president of the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University, told a packed house at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek on Saturday during the inaugural Vail Global Energy Forum. The day’s speakers included Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat; former U.S. Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of Labor George P. Shultz, a Republican,;and U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat.
The event, hosted and organized by the Vail Valley Foundation and Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy, continues today in Beaver Creek in an effort to address the future of energy in a global economy.
Energy regulation and energy research and development quickly emerged as the topics of Saturday’s speeches. With enough investment for research and development, and the right kinds of regulations, the speakers said there’s reason to be optimistic about the future of energy.
Shultz said the world is “on the cusp of a genuine revolution – a revolution in the field of energy.”
The practice of fracking, a process that shoots a water-sand-chemical mix deep into the ground to loosen mineral reserves for extraction, has the ability to answer some of the world’s energy problems, Shultz said. Fracking has become increasingly popular – and controversial – in Colorado.
“We also know there are problems associated with (fracking) that need to be dealt with,” Schulz said. “We also know a lot of people are around who don’t want it to work.”
Hickenlooper issued an executive order on the process of fracking Wednesday, creating a task force to clarify whether the state or individual cities and counties have regulatory jurisdiction over fracking operations in Colorado.
The task force is expected to address those regulations that include floodplain restrictions, the protection of wildlife and livestock, operational methods, and air quality and dust management, to name a few.
Hickenlooper said there are two things that governors all around the country and the world talk about: jobs and energy. The pro-business governor said global energy could become the hottest issue in the 2012 presidential election, and for good reason – a substantial amount of new jobs come out of energy, he said.
He spoke of the qualities of natural gas – something Colorado has plenty of – as being cleaner and less expensive than crude oil, and said it also has the potential to create jobs in Colorado and reduce the amount of money sent to foreign dictatorships.
“Colorado has all these resources,” Hickenlooper said. “What we’ve been trying to do here is set a new paradigm for how you can be pro-business, pro-energy, and set high environmental standards and ethical standards.”
Shultz commended Hickenlooper’s words, echoing some of his points.
“Somehow we have to find a regulatory process,” Schultz said, ” … that aligns the interest of regulation of what we’re trying to achieve with the interest of what’s being regulated.”
It’s a political battle, he said – one that is “very important to win.”
And winning, he said, means never giving up.
It’s the same goal Orr is after – the transformation of energy in the 21st century.
“Energy is absolutely fundamental to what we do,” Orr said. “It’s as important as any problem we face.”
Orr said there has to be a cumulative global investment in energy infrastructure of $38 trillion between now and 2035, or about $1.5 trillion per year. Future energy systems need to be accessible, affordable, abundant, reliable and efficient, he said. They also need to be secure, predictable, competitive, profitable and compatible with national interests. And, of course, environmentally and ethically responsible, he said.
And while improved energy efficiencies – such as the use of hybrid vehicles and other use reductions – save money and buy the world some time, “it isn’t sufficient by itself to meet future needs,” Orr said.
Energy matters and there’s enough of it to go around, Orr said. The issue comes down to how it can be converted and developed while keeping all of these other points in mind.
“We need to stick with it,” Orr said. “Research is an essential component of the transition. … We can do this – let’s get on with it.”
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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