I recently attended a meeting in Houston with some of the other elected officers from the DEG, EMD and DPA, along with AAPG Executive Director Rick Fritz and Divisions manager Norma Newby.
The main topic was how the three AAPG Divisions can work together to develop more joint activities, such as sessions, workshops and short courses. One of the action items that came out of the meeting was the need for the AAPG to form a Renewable Energy Committee.
It was agreed that the DEG would initiate the formation of this committee, and it was voted into existence July 22.
Some may wonder why AAPG should be interested in renewable energy.
Charles G. “Chip” Groat, a past DEG president and one of the founding members of the AAPG Global Climate Change Solutions Committee, observed in one of his EXPLORER columns that AAPG members are willing to commit considerable energy and personal time through the AAPG to the consideration of topics that some do and some don’t feel are mainstream to the profession of petroleum geology.
I have found, like Chip did, that many of the companies, agencies and universities that AAPG members work for are engaged in research and projects – such as renewable energy – that may seem to be outside of the domain of mainstream petroleum geology but do fall in the domain of the DEG, EMD or DPA.
As Chip noted, if we don’t engage ourselves in these activities and issues as well we will limit both the AAPG as an organization and also the impact of our profession as geoscientists.
So, as I pondered on the task of forming this committee I asked myself just how much interest might there be among AAPG members, and others, in the topic of renewable energy. I decided one way to find out was to do a little research on my own via the Internet to see what level of interest in renewable energy might be among the energy companies that employ many of AAPG members. I purposefully excluded government agencies and universities from my research.
I was very surprised to find out the majority of the major oil companies, both domestic and international, had very aggressive renewable energy programs, and also that many of the larger independent companies had active renewable energy programs. ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Shell, TOTAL, Petrobras, StatoilHydro, Devon, Apache and Anadarko all have very active renewable energy programs.
Most of the programs are centered on the development of bio-fuels; however, there are many companies involved in wind energy, fuel cell research and solar projects. Chevron remains very active in geothermal energy.
I also noted that those companies that had viable renewable energy projects also were actively discussing climate change and the potential effects that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions may have on the environment. Most discussed the need to balance an ever-increasing demand for energy with the need to lessen the carbon footprint the industry leaves on the environment. How to achieve this balance may be the greatest challenge facing the energy industry today.
Discussing these challenges as well as renewable energy research and progress will be the main purpose of the DEG/EMD/DPA Renewable Energy Committee.
One subject area the DEG remains very active in – and one that will help to mitigate the effects of CO2emissions – is carbon capture and sequestration.
The DEG will soon be publishing the first of two special issues of Environmental Geosciences dedicated to the subject of geological carbon sequestration. The first is a great example of geological work being performed on three different geological targets within the Michigan Basin.
CO2 sequestration, renewable energy, GHG emissions and other climate change-related issues are very important to us all and are part of the American Clean Energy and Security Act recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. This act, if it becomes law, will impose the first federal restrictions on CO2 emissions, establish a market structure for trading CO2 and promote investment in, and transition to, cleaner-energy technologies.