SSC lecture to give energy solutions

Column by Megan Bowling. E-mail [email protected]

Since coming to UK in 2008, I have seen the debate over coal-generated power become an important issue affecting students on campus.

Student groups have been formed, large panel discussions have been held and classes have been taught all revolving around this very important issue involving our state.

Based on what I hear from most people, this discussion has led to an either-or mentality. You are either for coal or against it. You are either an environmental advocate or a supporter of our mining industry—a Kentuckian for the Commonwealth or a Friend of Coal.

However, like most solutions to any problem, a balance must be reached between one of Kentucky’s most prominent industries and the new environmental wave that will be dominating how we think about energy production and consumption in the future.

You would be fooling yourself to think that renewable forms of energy will be able to replace fossil fuels in the immediate future. The technology we have today is not sufficient enough to handle a complete replacement.

However, that cannot hide the fact that, environmentally speaking, sources of energy like solar, wind, geothermal, biofuels and nuclear power are the more attractive option.

As our knowledge of how these systems function increases, we will be able to produce more efficient technology and the gap between fossil fuel consumption and alternative power generation will decrease.

Whether you are pro-renewables or pro-coal, the Student Sustainability Council’s Lecture Series featuring Bob Koester will be influential.

Koester has organized the geothermal project at Ball State, where with a federal grant, they are going to be able to replace all of their coal-fired boilers with a complete geothermal heating and cooling system. This university took advantage of the need to replace outdated boilers and turned it into an opportunity to implement one of the leading renewable energy projects going on across our college campuses.

The Student Sustainability Council wanted to bring Koester to Lexington not just to talk about the geothermal project, but also to discuss how we can take similar steps in implementing alternative energy technology on UK’s campus. The prospect of a clean, renewable energy base is not just a wishful idea, but also a realistic one that can be practically implemented in multiple ways, as the geothermal project demonstrates.

I encourage students to attend the lecture simply to allow themselves to be inspired by the possibilities of the future. It’s not often that you get to hear about momentous changes going on across the country firsthand from the individual leading the change. This is going to be one of those rare opportunities that you cannot afford to miss.