An Environmental Defense scientist said
Thursday night that Wyoming's wind energy could help meet the country’s
energy needs, while cutting carbon dioxide emissions.
It can be
accomplished in part, chemist Jeffery Greenblatt told a Casper College
audience, via a process called compressed air energy
Greenblatt, who has a doctorate in physical chemistry from
the University of California/Berkeley, presented his research as part of
the Energy Futures lecture series at Casper College, co-sponsored by the
University of Wyoming.
Greenblatt and Princeton University
colleagues believe that the world face two different futures in 50 years.
In the status-quo scenario, carbon dioxide levels could double, causing
significant global warming, rising sea levels, more frequent and extreme
weather events, increased threats to human health and serious ecological
An alternative future would see emissions stay
roughly flat for the next 50 years, then begin to decline, thus avoiding
the worst consequences of global warming. The key to the alternative
future, said Greenblatt, is to make a number of effective, sustainable
steps that will result in avoiding pumping 200 billion tons of carbon
dioxide into the atmosphere over the next 50 years.
his Princeton colleagues suggest dividing that mind-boggling goal into
what they call seven “stabilization wedges” n each resulting in the
reduction in the rate of carbon emissions of 1 billion tons of carbon per
year, or 25 billion tons over 50 years.
Examples of what might be
done fall into the following categories:
improvements, featuring increased efficiency, reduced use, biofuels,
synfuels and carbon dioxide storage.
increased efficiencies, using natural gas for coal, renewable energy and
Building construction, using biofuels,
weatherization and conversion of coal into hydrogen.
strategies, such as forest and soil carbon sequestration, mitigation and
“We have current technologies that can do all
this,” said Greenblatt. “It is a matter of political will.”
illustrate a single “wedge,” Greenblatt said that the country could
replace a number of its large coal-fueled power plants with facilities
using wind power. Over 50 years, such a process would mean the country
would build 700 gigawatts of coal plants plus 2,100 gigawatts in wind
Greenblatt noted that while wind power could produce
impressive amounts of peak energy during strong gusts, the biggest problem
was wind power’s intermittency. The problem could be addressed by a
process called compressed air energy storage, where excess energy could be
used to pump compressed air into underground storage facilities that could
include abandoned mines. When the wind was not blowing, he said, the
compressed air could be tapped and combined with the burning of natural
gas to create high-efficiency electrical generators n approximating the
efficiency levels of coal-fueled power plants.
The combination of
wind energy with this technology, said Greenblatt, would provide a steady
flow of electric energy that could be shipped via transmission lines to
Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado and the Oklahoma and Texas
panhandles have great wind energy potential and the geological features
that would make the technology efficient, said Greenblatt.
Thursday, the Energy Futures series holds a day-long conference at the
University of Wyoming in Laramie, then an evening wrap-up at 7 p.m. at
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