Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Energy Seminar At HIA Conference

The Hauppauge Industrial Association’s Energy Seminar Takes Long Island Business From Science Fiction To Science Function.
By Lon S. Cohen

SCCC, Brentwood Campus—No matter which way you look at it, an investment in Alternative Energy is good for our health, environment, economy, and political standing in the world. The Energy Seminar at HIA’s Trade Show focused on the business of Alternative Energy.
Patrick Foye, Co-Chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation was the ringmaster of a distinguished and impressive panel of Long Island’s top experts in the energy arena. They included, Robert B. Catell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Keyspan Energy; Dr. Yacov Shamash, Vice President for Economic Development and Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Stony Brook University; Dr. Ralph James, Associate Laboratory Director for Energy, Environment and National Security of Brookhaven National Laboratory; and Mr. Bruce Germano, Vice President of Retail Services for LIPA.
A few basic questions were posed to the audience about the business of Alternative Energy:
1) Who is using the energy?
2) Why should we be concerned with reducing our dependency on fossil fuel that is primarily imported from overseas?
3) What do we gain as a society by investing in Alternative Energy Solutions?
4) Finally, how do we go about making the necessary changes?
The first two questions have been debated endlessly in political and social circles. Vehicles contribute a major portion of the greenhouse gasses to the environment, our increasingly technological society is using more energy, and alternative energy sources are sometimes hard to integrate into a society whose economy is so plugged-into (pun intended) the traditional energy grid. Expense in human lives and in money to preserve the status quo is a major concern, along with the threat to our environment.
With the density of government agencies, businesses and academia, Long Island can become a leader in Alternative Energy and Efficiency technology businesses and answer the last two questions.
First, Steve Israel (D-NY 2nd) provided a literal talking head, as he could not attend the event because of a vote he needed to attend in Congress, by way of a prerecorded video. His Next Generation Energy Security Plan is based on the fact that “our biggest vulnerability in the world is our dependence on foreign oil.”
On his website, Mr. Israel says: “Just like the space program succeeds by unleashing the ingenuity of the private sector with major tax incentives and federal support,” he hopes to infuse that same spirit in the energy sector.
Moderator Patrick Foye outlined the hurdles that we face. The high cost of energy is an impediment to economic development. Many corporations have all made successful commitments to reduce energy consumption while maintaining (or even increasing) productivity so it is possible for Long Islanders to do the same.
Dr. Yakov Shamash spoke at length about the endeavors at Stony Brook University. Research into fossil fuel efficiency, and improving the performance of computer chips and fuel cells are fertile ground for local companies. Like a Michael Creighton novel, no corner of the earth is left out in the search for new fuel resources and Dr. Shamash spoke about extracting Hydrogen for fuel from the ocean floor!
LIPA’s Bruce Germano talked about the extremely progressive concept of a “self healing, smart, electrical grid.” A computer system overlain on the grid’s backbone will use extensive data, including availability and price of electricity, to distribute and regulate the flow of wholesale electricity to intelligent appliances. Also the stuff of Science Fiction brought to today’s world.
Back in the 21st Century, Keyspan’s Robert Catell presented a readily available cleaner burning, energy source: Natural Gas. Research into making Natural Gas lower in emissions is continuous. Also, Keyspan’s Islandia home is also providing temporary space for Stony Brook University’s Energy Center.
Ralph James, an Associate Director at Brookhaven National Lab, spoke about research into Bio, Solar and Nuclear Energy. The Lab offers extensive access for small businesses to work with them on these technologies. Mr. James called for a move from the rhetorical to the practical in our debate so Long Island can benefit from the National Energy Policy’s call to build new Energy Centers.
Our country can become energy independent. Exciting opportunities—and let’s face it, profitability—will provide essential energy technology through businesses brave enough to take up the challenge.
With Long Island’s dense concentration of entrepreneurs, academia, government organizations and large utilities, we can benefit from the inevitable energy revolution. Water, tidal, solar and wind power are in abundant supply here, along with the people and tools to utilize nature’s freely available clean energy resources at the bleeding edge of current technology. (And the minds that can imagine turning the stuff of Science Fiction into Science Function!)

Orinially Published in "The Hauppauge Reporter"

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