Report on Bay Area Energy R&D Released
July 19, 2007
Which research and development institutes in the San Francisco Bay Area are key players in the international push to develop biofuels? Which are playing central roles in the development of wind or geothermal power, electrochemical or hydrogen fuel cells, solar or nuclear power? And which Bay Area institutes are leading the charge to improve energy efficiency? These and many other questions are answered in a new report from the Bay Area Science and Innovation Consortium (BASIC).
Entitled "Innovative Energy Solutions from the San Francisco Bay Area: Fueling a Clean Energy Future," the 90-page report represents the first comprehensive look at how Bay Area research and development institutes are ramping up their considerable intellectual resources to develop a broad range of alternative energy technologies. These technologies are renewable and carbon-neutral -- meaning the sources can be replenished and their use does not contribute to atmospheric global warming effects. Advancing their development promises to enhance national security and economic prosperity, while at the same time securing and enriching the economic prospects of the Bay Area.
The effort to compile the report was led by Barry Klein, vice chancellor for research at the University of California, Davis.
"It was clear in September 2004 when I first floated the idea for this report and when the price of crude oil had risen to the retrospectively bargain price of $50 per barrel that we as a nation needed to diversify our energy portfolio," Klein said. "Given the research strengths and entrepreneurial expertise of institutions in the Bay Area, including UC Davis -- which had concurrently launched its Energy Initiative -- it is apparent that the region that has been the epicenter of IT innovation and the biotech revolution is poised to do the same with alternative energy."
"Never has the United States had a greater awareness than it has now of the dangers of continued reliance on fossil-fuel energy," said Regis Kelly, chairman of BASIC. "There is bipartisan support for alternative energy sources that are technologically feasible and cost-effective. It is essential, however, that this support be driven by knowledge, not just opinion. We're proud of BASIC's energy report because it is a compendium of useful information across the whole spectrum of energy-related activities in the Bay Area."
The world's supply of fossil fuels is being depleted at an ever-increasing rate, and there will be no replenishment. In barely 200 years, the human race has consumed a substantial portion of the fossil fuels that were built up over hundreds of millions of years. Furthermore, the reliance upon fossil fuels has increased the emission of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, that have contributed to global climate change.
Leading Bay Area research and development institutes, federal and state agencies, academia and private industry, are pursuing a number of promising alternative technologies in the areas of biomass fuel, electrochemical and magnetic technologies, geothermal energy, hydrogen fuel, solar, wind and nuclear energy. In addition, the report also takes a comprehensive look at the strategies Bay Area researchers are investigating to improve the efficiencies of the fossil-fuel energy technologies in use today.
"All of us, no matter what our background in energy technologies, will find something exciting and new in these pages," said Kelly. "It could be the magnetic train that levitates even at walking speed, the mobile nuclear reactor that does not need attention for two decades, the new propeller designs for wind generators, the generation of energy from restaurant kitchen grease or the batteries that can survive 500,000 charge/discharge cycles."
"Innovative Energy Solutions from the San Francisco Bay Area: Fueling a Clean Energy Future" is the second in a series of BASIC science futures reports. The first was Nanotechnology in the San Francisco Bay Area: Dawn of a New Age. Copies of these and other BASIC publications are available in print or on-line versions.
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