Expo Questions and Answers
1. Can I use natural gas in a car?
Yes. Some automobiles and commercial trucks have been modified to utilize compressed natural gas as their fuel source. Worldwide in 2011, there were 14.8 million natural gas powered vehicles, mostly in the Asia-Pacific region. In the United States, Honda, GM, Ford and Ram all offer natural gas options for select consumer vehicles. Advantages to using CNG in your automobile include lower costs, fewer emissions, and quieter engine operation.
2. How can we get consumers to realize their carbon footprint?
Education through avenues like the Colorado Energy Expo is an excellent way to start. Calculating and understanding the carbon impact from the typical consumer’s lifestyle is a complicated matter, and will take an effort from all stakeholders to provide the data, along with the analysis to understanding of what it means. Industry has been helping this effort by providing information around carbon footprints on select consumer products. You can find more information at the Journal of Cleaner Production at http://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-cleaner-production/ and you can also find out your personal carbon impact using the Carbon Footprint Calculator from Nature.com found here: http://www.nature.org/greenliving/carboncalculator/index.htm
3. Why didn’t we invest in the infrastructure for biofuel? Electric? Hydrogen?
Although there has been limited investment into biofuel, electric and hydrogen infrastructure for transportation, so for none of these options have provided a compelling value proposition to attract widespread consumer support. Performance limitations and high costs have limited the public’s desire to purchase these technologies. As technology overcomes these limitations, you can expect the infrastructure investment to follow.
4. Why are people so opposed to fracking?
Hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as ‘fracking’, is a complex industrial process. Unlike other complex industrial processes which typically take place inside industrial facilities, fracking happens in the field, many times in close proximity to the public. This generates a high degree of public scrutiny, but few members of the public have the technical background to understand the techniques employed, or the expertise to evaluate the risks compared to other industrial processes commonly utilized. People tend to fear what they don’t understand, so even with a good track record from many thousands of applications; the general public tends to overestimate the risks from this process. To find out more about the fracking process, along with an analysis of the associated risks, we suggest the following sources:
The US Environmental Protection Agency’s overview detailing the regulations and risks associated with hydraulic fracturing can be found here: http://www2.epa.gov/hydraulicfracturing
For an overview on the history and methods of hydraulic fracturing, Geology.com has the following article: http://geology.com/articles/hydraulic-fracturing/
Popular Mechanics examines and addresses the top ten claims around natural gas development in the following article: http://popularmechanics.com/science/energy/coal-oil-gas/top-10-myths-about-natural-gas-drilling-6386593
5. How does hydroelectric get to my home?
Electrical power can be generated from a number of power sources, including coal, natural gas, nuclear, solar, or hydro power. Hydroelectric plants produce electricity in much the same way that a coal-fired power plant. In both cases, a power source is used to turn a propeller like piece called a turbine, which turns an electric generator. IN hydro power’s case, this power source is falling water. Once the power is generated it goes into a power grid, which makes its way to your home.
6. Why doesn’t Colorado have any nuclear plants?
Colorado’s only nuclear plant has been the Fort St. Vrain Generating Station, which closed in 1989 due to high operating costs. Since then, no nuclear power plants have been built or permitted in the state. From 1977 until 2012, no plants were built in the entire US, but nuclear has undergone a small revival, with several additions to existing plants currently under construction. Recently though, inexpensive natural gas prices have made the economics on nuclear power not as attractive as other fuel sources. This, along with lengthy permitting, public resistance, and lack of a construction-supplier base, provide limited incentives to build additional nuclear power plants, in Colorado or other states.