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Systems Approach to Sustainable Energy Organizer: Al George

Summary: Systems Approach to Sustainable Energy
Organizer: Al George
October 28, 2009, 12:00 1:30 PM, Rice 300
Across the world people expect a future life style based on a much larger individual
consumption of energy than most of the world has had previously. At the same time our
traditional fossil fuels are beginning to run out, (particularly on a hundred year time
scale) and global warming is generally agreed to be caused by man's influence on the
In order to effect a smooth transition from existing energy systems, based on legacy
systems and resource depletion, to sustainable ones, we will require a systems approach,
including consideration of true long term life cycle costs, individual and societal values
and preferences, and interactions with other large systems.
As we investigate a myriad of possible sources, distribution, and conservation ideas we
need to consider all of many factors including maximum energy potential, technical
feasibility, economic viability, and community and societal acceptance. We also have to
take account of the interactions of the necessarily complex energy systems with other
complex systems such as food, water, transportation, environment, land and mineral
resources, and logistics. The world can no longer accept trial and error approaches such
as we have seen with the demise of light rail in the US, with methanol from coal, corn
ethanol, nuclear waste, etc.


Source: Angenent, Lars T. - Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University


Collections: Renewable Energy; Engineering