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Jun 02 2011

Energy Conference Highlights Promising Technologies

Old Westbury, N.Y. (June 2, 2011) Reducing our “carbon addiction,” understanding climate change’s devastating effects on the planet, and implementing new wind and ocean wave technologies will help limit reliance on carbon-based fuels, speakers at NYIT’s annual energy conference agreed yesterday.

The costly new technologies and the public’s continued skepticism about global warming make moving beyond carbon difficult, according to energy experts who addressed about 140 people at NYIT de Seversky Mansion during the daylong conference. 

Despite obstacles, the speakers highlighted new projects – from floating wind farms in Maine to underwater turbines  that are advancing.  The experts agreed that a continued reliance on fossil fuels could cause more environmental damage from drilling or nuclear power and accelerate the startling effects of climate change.

“We may not have the conditions on the Earth to survive,” said keynote speaker Monique Leclerc, of the University of Georgia Center for Atmospheric Biogeosciences.  “We’re talking about threatening the social stability of civilization.”

Leclerc said scientists and others need to improve their communication about climate change to the public and to the powerful financial community, which can help support the changes that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions and slow global warming.  She also called for mandatory climate change education so students learn how their actions affect the world’s environment.

Referring to the slow response to the climate change threat, Dr. Wallace Broecker said:  “Our great, great grandchildren will look back and say, ‘Why did you do this?  You could have avoided it.’”

NYIT presented Broecker, who was the first to coin the term “global warming,” with the Climate Science Pioneer award for his contributions and continued work in the field.

Markian Melnyk, president of Maryland-based Atlantic Grid Development, said coordinated development, regional approaches, and careful planning can make offshore wind power technologies more affordable.  

“The time to move on it is now,” Melnyk said.  “There are a lot of benefits that come from having offshore power.”

Jonathan Colby of Verdant Power, which is continuing to test underwater tidal turbines in New York's East River, said financing large-scale tidal arrays has been difficult.   But the turbines have shown their ability to generate clean, renewable energy with no adverse effects on endangered species.  “The East River is a fantastic resource,” Colby added.

He said that while immediate solutions to our reliance on carbon are not available, the future holds promise.

“I am 100 percent convinced we will move beyond carbon,” Colby said.

Michael Raftery of the Stevens Institute of Technology said the tremendous power of ocean waves can generate large amounts of energy on the East coast.

“I need to convince oil companies it’s a better investment to harness wave energy than to fracture shale,” Raftery said, referring to the controversial hydraulic fracturing techniques.  “We need to develop a way to add it to our portfolio of renewable resources.”

Locally, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) is exploring an offshore wind project with New York City but the initiative faces years of environmental and economic studies before it can be constructed, said Michael Deering, Vice President of Environmental Affairs for LIPA.

Shreyas Rami, an NYIT graduate student working on the Long Island Carbon Footprint study, said the conference offered him an opportunity to learn about the new technologies “and how they’re making them much greener and how we can use them in new projects and businesses.”

 

About NYIT

New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees in more than 90 fields of study, including architecture and design; arts and sciences; education; engineering and computing sciences; health professions; management; and osteopathic medicine. A non-profit independent, private institution of higher education, NYIT has more than 15,000 students attending campuses on Long Island and Manhattan, online, and at its global campuses. NYIT sponsors 11 NCAA Division II programs and one Division I team.
 
Led by President Edward Guiliano, NYIT is guided by its mission to provide career-oriented professional education, offer access to opportunity to all qualified students, and support applications-oriented research that benefits the larger world. To date, 85,000 graduates have received degrees from NYIT. For more information, visit nyit.edu.
 
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