Q&A: Robert Amundsen on the 2018 Energy Conference

June 4, 2018

The 13th Annual NYIT Energy Conference will be held Thursday June 14 at NYIT de Seversky Mansion in Old Westbury. Here, Robert N. Amundsen, Ph.D., associate professor, director of the M.S. in Energy Management, and chair of the conference committee, talks more about the event and its theme: Bioenergy and Natural Systems.

What is “bioenergy”? Why is it important?
Bioenergy is any type of fuel that we obtain from biological sources, such as wood, corn, or algae. It’s renewable because we can grow more of [those materials]. These are clean, natural sources of fuel.

Will bioenergy reduce climate change?
Plants remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere when they are growing. If we burn the plants as fuel, the carbon is returned to the atmosphere. Therefore, bioenergy is “carbon neutral.” If we replaced fossil fuels with bioenergy, we would stop the rising carbon dioxide levels which lead to climate change.

What is unique about this conference?
All of the speakers this year are excellent. They are top experts in their fields. For example, Timothy A. Volk, Ph.D., is a renowned expert in using fast-growing willow trees for bioenergy. Another example is Irakli Loladze, Ph.D., who has discovered that rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere will reduce protein production in plants. This scholarship can have profound impacts on food supplies in the future.

Why will there be a presentation about offshore wind turbines at the conference?
Huge wind turbines will soon be installed south and east of Long Island. They will produce clean, renewable energy, but there are concerns about the impacts on fisheries. We invited David Beutel, who has studied the interactions of wind turbines and fisheries off the coast of Rhode Island. This is a great opportunity to learn more about this major issue from a highly regarded naturalist.

Attend the Energy Conference on June 14 and learn more about the speakers.