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Conference Details - Agenda

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2012 MIT Europe Energy Conference

March 28-29, 2012

8:00 am


9:00 am

Welcome and Introduction

9:45 am

Keynote: Geopolitics and Energy Security
The size of the energy infrastructure and the scale of investment needed to shift the composition of energy supply or the nature of energy demand leads us to anticipate slow, if not imperceptible, change in energy markets.   However, from time to time there can be a development ­a shift in policy or expectations ­ that has a significant effect on energy trends.  We are  at such a point today: the unexpected massive increase in the estimate of economically recoverable natural gas, and to a lesser extent oil, from shale deposits in North America, and by implication, from other shale bearing regions elsewhere in the world.

I wish to make three points to frame the discussion.  First, the potential positive impacts of this increase are enormous, but as yet not fully appreciated by the public, business, and the political leadership of producing or consuming countries.  Second, we should be cautious in assuming that the appearance of such an opportunity will necessarily lead to a favorable outcome.  There are significant environmental challenges to the successful and responsible widespread shale gas deployment. Absent serious action to reduce the environmental impact, not just talk about the need for such action, we run the risk of losing the public's confidence in this technology and delaying or prohibiting its growth. World government should adjust its policies and industry should adjust its practices to maximize the benefits of this welcome new energy opportunity.  Unfortunately, my impression is that neither government nor business are doing what needs to be done, and therefore we are implicitly assuming that past practices are adequate to deal with this new opportunity.   

International implications The benefits of a large shift in the global supply curve for oil and gas are both political and economic.  There is the prospect that the demand from the rapidly growing, large emerging economies of Asia can be met at lower prices.  First the present division of the world into three gas markets: North America, Europe and Asia may will evolve into a single world natural gas market (ex-transportation) by expansion of LNG trade and the inexorable extension of pipelines. Second, there presently is an unprecedented difference between the energy equivalent cost of natural gas and oil in North America of over 4x that is expected to persist over time.  Such a large disparity presents a tremendous economic incentive to substitute natural gas for oil in a variety of uses: for electricity generation, for industrial operations, and eventually as a transportation fuel for light- or heavy-duty vehicles.

These market factors: more abundant, low cost oil and gas supply, possible evolution to a global natural gas market, and substitution of natural gas for oil in the transportation sector have tremendous geopolitical implications for global energy and these implications should not be forgotten.  First, global reserves of natural gas are growing at the expense of traditional major natural gas resource holders, for example, Iran, Russia, and Qatar.  These traditional suppliers will lose market power to set prices (a welcome change in gas trade negotiations for German and other Eastern European importers of Russian gas), and there will be a large adverse wealth effect for traditional resource holders (Iran, Qatar, Algeria).  Expensive natural gas development and pipeline projects undertaken at a time when natural gas was expected to be in short supply and prices high will need to be reexamined, and indeed some of these investments may be underwater.  The United States, just four years ago projected to be a significant importer of LNG, is now seriously considered to be a potential exporter of natural gas, although a significant level of exports would surely create significant domestic political opposition. The conclusion is that massive increase in world natural gas (and of course oil) reserves outside the Persian Gulf region and the diversity of supply, reduces the market power of the traditional Middle East resource holders, and lowers expected market prices ­ all factors that reduce, but certainly do not eliminate, energy security concerns.

Implications for the United States: There are multiple benefits from increased production of natural gas and oil from shale.  Most importantly domestic production means jobs rather than payments for imports that contribute to the country's balance of payments deficits.  The cost of production tends to be lower than most conventional oil and gas plays and less than offshore or production from extreme areas, so consumers benefit from lower prices.  North American imports could fall to below 20% of liquid fuel consumption -- a level widely believed to convey import independence.  However, there are major reservations:  Sharp reduction of import dependence of the United States does not translate into energy independence for U.S. allies such as German and Japan that will remain dependent on oil imports.  Unconventional shale oil and gas production is accompanied by significant adverse water, air, and community environmental impacts.  If not effectively, addressed the impact of perhaps 100,000 hydraulicly fractured wells in the United States will create public opposition that will slow or stop the technology.  The availability and greater use of natural gas slows the adoption of renewables and nuclear power and delays but does not remove the dangers of global warming.

In sum, its fair to call this a natural gas revolution but not as with all revolutions at early stages, not prudent to arrive at a conclusion about its net benefits.
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10:30 am


Session I: Accommodating Renewables

11:00 am

Intermittent Renewables and the Grid
A strong presence of intermittent renewable generation will change how power systems are planned, operated and controlled. Distribution and transmission networks with enhanced capabilities will be enablers of this transformation and will be profoundly affected as well. However, as the recent MIT study “The future of the Electric Grid” shows, the current regulation of electricity networks is inadequate to meet these challenges and may delay the transformation towards an almost decarbonized power sector. Regulatory shortcomings and potential solutions will be discussed.
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11:35 am


Session II: Energy and Water

11:45 am

Water Footprint of Energy
Professor Ghoniem’s research interest lie in the areas of high performance computing in turbulent reactive flow, computational mathematics, combustion dynamics and active control, modeling and simulation of transport-chemistry interactions in thermochemical and electrochemical systems including high temperature fuel cells, gasification processes and fuel production and analysis of high-performance, zero-emission integrated energy systems with CO2 capture.

12:15 pm

Energy Efficient Clean Water Technology
Water scarcity is a serious and growing problem in various locations throughout the world. One possible solution to water scarcity is to desalinate seawater or brackish water, but the energy consumption of desalination can be significant. A variety of energy efficient technologies for desalination are being studied at MIT, and several of these will be reviewed. Further, the energy consumption of desalination should be considered relative to that of alternative sources of water and also in the context of the overall energy consumption associated with supplying water and during the end use of water.
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12:50 pm


1:15 pm


Session III: Solar Energy

2:30 pm

Concentrated Solar Power
Concentrated solar power (CSP) is an attractive option for producing electrical power from the sun. Among its many advantages are its simplicity, the ability to implement very efficient thermal storage in a straightforward manner, its dispatchability, and finally its use of proven and reliable technology. The Solar Electricity Generating Systems (SEGS) plants in the Mojave Desert have been supplying energy since 1984. In its simplest form, CSP consists of focusing direct solar radiation on a working heat transfer fluid by means of an array of mirrors. The heated fluid is then used to generate electricity directly in a turbine (if the working fluid is steam) or via heat transfer to a turbine working fluid (often steam or organic). Because of the use of a standard turbine for producing electricity, CSP lends itself to large, utility-scale production of electricity.

In this presentation, various modes of producing electricity from concentrated power are described including the relative advantages and disadvantages of each. Both current and longer term storage options are also covered. Because electricity is a commodity, emphasis is placed on the economics of the different technology options. Finally, CSP prospects for the future, including possible game-changing technologies, are discussed.
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3:00 pm

Practical Large-Area Nanostructures: Lightbulbs, Solar Cells and MEMS
Professor Bulovic and his research group study properties of organic thin films, structures and devices. The fundamental findings are applied to the development of optoelectronic, electronic and photonic organic devices of nanoscale thickness, including visible LEDs, lasers, solar cells, photodetectors, transistors, flexible and transparent optoelectronics. In addition to working on small-molecular-weight vander-Waals-bonded organic thin films, in the future we will also examine polymer solids, self-assembled materials, and hybrid organic/inorganic structures. We aim to reduce the size of active organic layers from the present nano-scale thickness of organic thin films to that of single molecules, with the ultimate goal of probing functionality of single molecules or polymer strands.

Research is focused on deciphering the physical properties that govern behavior of nanostructured materials and applying the findings to development of practical, active technologies. With focus on organic and inorganic-nanocrystal electronic and optoelectronic structures, to date we demonstrated efficient LEDs, lasers, solar cells, photodetectors, transistors, memory cells, and chemical sensors. In addition to working on small-molecular-weight van-der-Waals-bonded organic thin films, we also examine hybrid organic/inorganic structures, polymer solids, and self-assembled materials. Work tends towards the nano-scale where through development of new patterning and materials growth techniques we aim to reduce the size of active device layers from the present nano-scale thickness of organic thin films to that of single molecules or atomic clusters. The ultimate goal is to utilize the nano-scale functionality of molecules, polymers, and inorganic/organic hybrid assemblies in practical nano-scale devices and both small- and large-area integrated systems.
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3:35 pm


4:00 pm


Session IV: Materials for Energy

4:30 pm

Nanoengineered Surfaces for Efficiency Enhancements in Energy and Water
Thermal-fluid-surface interactions are ubiquitous in multiple industries including Energy, Water, Agriculture, Transportation, Electronics Cooling, Buildings, etc. Over the years, these systems have been designed for increasingly higher efficiency using incremental engineering approaches that utilize system-level design trade-offs. These system-level approaches are, however, bound by the fundamental constraint of the nature of the thermal-fluid-surface interactions, where the largest inefficiencies occur. In this talk, we show how surface/interface morphology and chemistry can be engineered to fundamentally alter these interactions in a wide range of processes including condensation, boiling, drop dynamics, ice and clathrate hydrate mitigation, separation, catalysis, durable materials and nanomanufacturing. Applications of these nanoengineered surfaces for dramatic efficiency enhancements in various energy, water, and transportation systems including oil & gas (flow assurance and energy efficiency), turbines, engines, power and desalination plants, and electronics cooling will be highlighted.
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5:05 pm


Session V: Energy and the Built Environment

5:15 pm

Energy and the Built Environment
Currently, Dean Santos’ academic focus has been the design of housing environments. Her interdisciplinary courses in urban design encourage architecture, landscape, and urban design students to collaborate and address unsolved problems in the urban environment.

5:50 pm


6:00 pm


6:30 pm

Gala Reception