25. January 2023 · Comments Off on Climate on Tap with James Conca · Categories: Recent Events

Climate on Tap

Our popular Climate Science on Tap series is back! Drink beer with friends while listening to an expert speak on climate change. But now it has a broader scope to include climate solutions and policies as well as science.

The State of Energy in the State of Washington
Dr. James Conca
6-8 pm Wednesday January 25
Round Table Pizza, 1769 Leslie Rd, Richland

Energy technology communicator James Conca will address the challenge of fully decarbonizing and expanding electricity production in Washington State to meet the requirements of the Clean Energy Transformation Act, the increasing state population and the electrification of home heating and transportation.

The Northwest Power Pool considers an outage risk of <5% to be safe, but they warn that Washington State faces a 26% probability of an outage from insufficient generation to meet an increased load by 2025. The state exports electricity now, but it anticipates that by 2050 Washington will become a net importer,  when 43% of its electricity comes from multiple states such as Montana and Wyoming, even as those states close their coal plants as well and will also have to turn to other states to meet their needs.

Unfortunately, most decarbonization scenarios expect wind to eventually dominate all new energy builds in the Western U.S., an endpoint that invites rolling blackouts and grid failure as back-up generation does not exist. Without new gas plants, pumped hydro and small modular nuclear reactors will be necessary for load-following, or buffering the intermittency of large amounts of wind and solar. Can we achieve a reliable mix in time to avoid grid collapse and still address the worst effects of climate change?

Dr. James Conca has worked on nuclear and energy issues for 40 years at NASA, WSU, NMSU, Los Alamos National Laboratory, PNNL and LLNL. Conca has been an advisor to DOE, EPA, state and federal regulatory agencies, and industry. He was a Science Contributor to Forbes on energy and nuclear issues for 10 years. Conca obtained a Ph.D. in Geochemistry from the Caltech in 1985, an MS in Planetary Science in 1981, and a BSc in Geology and Biochemistry from Brown University in 1979.

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