From the time mankind first harnessed fire and shared that knowledge, civilization has depended on energy and information. But while the information supply increases endlessly, the supply of energy now faces constraints from dwindling resources, climate change, and environmental considerations.
Meeting tomorrow’s energy needs in a sustainable way requires an infrastructure for providing, managing, and distributing it. Figuring out how to do all this is the focus of IEEE Energy 2030, a conference to be held in Atlanta on 17 and 18 November.
“We live in a highly interdependent world, where any action seems to have unintended consequences,” says IEEE Fellow Deepak Divan, cochair of the conference. “Possibly for the first time, IEEE is bringing together experts on technology, economics, and public policy as it pertains to sustainable energy who can provide a global perspective.” About 300 such experts are expected.
Why the year 2030? “Significant change is required to achieve sustainability, and that is unlikely to happen in the next five or six years,” says Divan, who will also be president of the IEEE Power Electronics Society in 2009. “A 20-year time frame seems more realistic, and since the U.S. Department of Energy has had meetings focused on sustainability by 2030, that seemed a good target year for the conference.”
About 125 papers and presentations will be given on such topics as energy and national security, the sustainability (or lack thereof) of biofuels, achieving price parity for solar and conventional energy sources, a smart grid that can selectively deliver only “green” electrons, and CO2 capture and sequestration in solid form.
Specific technologies to be addressed include the smart power grid; plug-in hybrid vehicles; wind, solar, and other renewable energy; fuel cells; energy-efficient lighting; energy storage; and energy conversion.
“The focus is on reducing overall consumption of unsustainable fossil fuels,” Divan points out. “This has to be done on all fronts—from reducing fuel use at the generation point all the way to the load, or consumption point, in cars, homes, and other places.”
The impetus for IEEE Energy 2030 came from the IEEE’s New Technology Directions Committee, which cosponsors the conference along with IEEE-USA, the IEEE Standards Association, the IEEE Power & Energy Society, and the IEEE Power Electronics Society.