Colorado Rural Electric Association (CREA) Energy Innovations Summit

Mead Students Attend Energy Innovations Conference
by Will Pratt
Mead Energy Academy
 
A group of students from the Mead Energy Academy at Mead High School had the unique privilege of attending the 2017 Colorado Rural Electric Association (CREA) Energy Innovations Summit in downtown Denver on October 30. The annual summit is a major area platform where energy industry professionals share creative approaches to, and breakthroughs in, solving modern energy implementation and adaptation solutions. Students were exposed to a wide variety of industry companies and reports on their current efforts.
 
In the first session attended, students heard a panel of experts discuss challenges and innovations in developing an infrastructure to support the burgeoning electric vehicle (EV) market, fueled in part by monies from the Volkswagen emissions settlement.
 
Cory Boaz takes notes during a session on Electric Vehicles
 
After a conference break to allow people to tour the exhibits, students next attended a session on Carbon Sequestration where they heard about how carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are being captured from power plants and used for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), and how the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resource has initiated a CarbonX Prize, a $20 Million competition!
 
Beau Klein and Tyler Gibbs review notes between sessions
 
The lunch session followed, with the plenary presented by Dr. Martin Keller from NREL - the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, CO. He shared some exciting information including that while our US economy is growing, energy use is actually declining. Further, he spoke of a growing perovskite solar cell technology, which has seen an almost 5-fold increase in efficiency in the past seven years. Also, NREL is helping develop on-site construction of wind turbines, since their increasing size has become a deterrent to transporting them with conventional means.
 
Energy Academy students enjoy lunch and the plenary speaker.
 
The first afternoon session attended was on wind power, and the panel there had exciting news about Colorado being 4th in wind jobs, with 17% of our electricity coming from wind, and that a survey of 250 wind industry firms they expect wind jobs to increase almost 300% from 100,000 now to 360,000 by 2030! Good thing there are programs like the Energy Academy to help prepare students for those opportunities…
 
      
The final session of the day was entitled, “Energy Storage - Is It Going Mainstream?” As our students have learned, means of storing energy using battery or capacitor systems is one of the ‘front-lines’ of energy research - trying to build capacity from intermittent sources to meet peak demands. Because of increasing pressure by the marketplace, Bob Rudd, from Tesla, argued that Energy Storage is becoming mainstream and shared how Tesla has been engaging technologically and logistically easy projects (‘low-hanging fruit’), citing overviews of three projects in California, Hawaii, and New Zealand, where over 300 MegaWatt-hours of storage have been deployed.
 
While it was a long day, and some of the material was ‘over our heads,’ the students very much enjoyed the chance to hear of numerous ‘game-changing’ advances occurring throughout the energy industry and were excited to see how relevant their science and engineering projects are to current issues.
 
“It was cool to listen to the different speakers and what they do to make the world better.” Ethan Watkins
 
“Offshore wind was discussed by Suzanne Tegen and was very interesting.” Sydney Bell
 
“...the problems with the electric vehicles to this date were all solvable with my project - a wind-power assisted electric vehicle.”   Trevor Menebroker