Colorado’s energy future explored in upcoming talks

Oct. 2, 2017 • by Sue Postema Scheeres

Balancing energy resources, effectively communicating climate science and developing renewable technologies take center stage this fall as part of a lecture series on the future of energy in Colorado.

The series begins Oct. 14 and features faculty from the College of Engineering and Applied Science and Colorado Law. These free public lectures are offered through CU on the Weekend, a program coordinated by the Office for Outreach and Engagement.

The series is timely, said Jeanne McDonald, the office’s assistant director who organizes the programming for CU on the Weekend. 

“As part of its Climate Commitment plan, the city of Boulder has developed ambitious goals for using clean energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions,” McDonald said. “This series seeks to support the city’s goals through community conversations about the future of energy in Colorado.”

All three lectures will be held at the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building, Butcher Auditorium. Seating in the auditorium is limited to the first 200 people. Doors open at 12:30 p.m.; advanced registration is not required. 

If you are unable to attend, live stream the lecture or watch after the event. The series is supported by the Office of the Chancellor, the Office of the Provost and the Division of Continuing Education at CU Boulder. 

Lectures include:

Balancing Oil, Gas, Air and Water Resources

Saturday, Oct. 14, 1–4 p.m.
Gabrielle Pétron, Associate Scientist, NOAA
Harihar Rajaram, Professor, Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering
Joseph Ryan, Professor, Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering

Over the past decade, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have accelerated extraction of oil and natural gas in Colorado and across the United States. In Colorado, oil and gas development has expanded into residential areas, and residential development has expanded into oil- and gas-producing areas. The state’s regulation of oil and gas development seeks to both tap the resources and protect public health, leading to conflict about how to balance these potentially conflicting goals. In this lecture, Pétron, Rajaram and Ryan will discuss research they’ve conducted regarding the effects of oil and gas development on air quality and water quality in Colorado as part of the AirWaterGas network and how this research could guide better regulation of oil and gas development.

Keeping Politics From Derailing Critical Climate Action

Saturday, Nov. 4, 1–3 p.m.
Alice Madden, Executive Director, Getches-Wilkinson Center, Colorado Law

Drawing on her years of experience in state and national government as well as academia, Madden will address why climate change has become so politicized, how we got here, and how to move forward. She will share current social science research that describes how conservatives and liberals interpret language and information related to climate change. In addition, she will share ideas on how to keep climate research at the center of political discourse to influence sustainable energy policy and development.

How Renewable Technologies can Transform Energy

Saturday, Dec. 9, 1–4 p.m.
Peter Hamlington, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Christoph Keplinger, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Sehee Lee, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering

This lecture will focus on promising renewable and sustainable energy technologies. Hamlington will discuss how turbulence impacts the future of wind energy in the United States and why turbulence, an inherently chaotic energy source, creates technical, financial and environmental challenges for wind farms. Keplinger will describe a new class of devices based on soft and variable capacitors, which are well suited to extract the energy present in ocean waves since they do not require costly and inefficient power take-off systems, and can tolerate harsh ocean environments where metal-based, electromagnetic generators struggle. Lee will describe developments in new lithium-ion battery electrode and electrolyte materials and other battery materials research in CU Boulder’s Electrochemical Energy Laboratory (ECEL) and its impact on environment and energy sustainability.