Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame

2009 Distinguished Lectures


December 3 Michael Desmond, BP America, Inc.
November 20 Energy Policy Forum
November 6 Jefferson Tester, Cornell University
October 15 Dan Connell, CONSOL Energy, Inc.
October 5 Michael Hogan, European Climate Foundation
September 17 Enrique Alejo, Midwest Trade Commission of Spain
April 22 Thomas Cushing, Chicago Climate Exchange



Thur December 3, 2009
4:00pm, Hesburgh Library Auditorium
"Future Automobile Fuels: Fill Up or Plug In?"

Michael Desmond
BP America, Inc.

Abstract: BP Research and Technology recently completed an update of their Long Term Technology Strategy with a focus on the transportation. Concerns about climate change and energy supply security are likely to shape both government transportation policy and vehicle/fuel research and development. These concerns don’t always collide as renewable fuels, and electric vehicles are being proposed as attractive options to address both climate change and supply security. The presentation will suggest how vehicles and fuels may evolve over the next 20+ years, and which combinations make the most sense from a timing and cost/benefit perspective.

Bio: Mike Desmond is the distinguished advisor within BP Refining and Marketing, Research and Technology.  He is involved with helping develop BP’s technology program for converting unconventional feeds to liquid fuels and chemicals.  An inventor on over 20 patents, during a 29 year career with BP, he has held a number of technology and commercial management roles.  Dr. Desmond has a BS in Chemistry from the University of Notre Dame, a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Illinois, and an MBA from John Carroll University.


Fri November 20, 2009
3:30pm, 129 DeBartolo Hall
Energy Policy Forum
"World Energy Markets: A Changing Landscape"


Dr. Raymond Scheppach
Executive Director, National Governors Association

Abstract: Dr. Raymond Scheppach will focus on the changing international oil market and whether the recent huge new finds and the emergence of China and India and other third world countries will have impacts on the long run price of oil. He will also discuss the significant changes in the U.S. natural gas market and whether it can become a bridge to a cleaner U.S. energy mix. Other issues that will be discussed include the increasingly important relationship between financial and commodity markets as well as the balance of payments and the value of the dollars risks of such high foreign oil dependence and the appropriate U.S. policy responses.


Mr. Guy Caruso
Senior Advisor, Energy and National Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Abstract: Mr. Guy Caruso will discuss how the world energy market’s center of gravity is moving eastward to China, India and other emerging economies. Strong economic growth, steady industrialization and consumer preferences for greater mobility are driving this projected change in global energy demand patterns.  Traditional industrial countries such as the USA and Japan are experiencing slower GDP growth, increased energy efficiency and increased concern about the environmental consequences of fossil fuel consumption.  Supplies of oil and natural gas to fuel projected energy demand growth in the emerging economies will be increasingly concentrated in the Middle East and Russia. The cost of developing additional resources is rising as the global energy industry moves into higher cost projects due to resource constraints and/or geopolitical risks. Enormous investment will be required to meet growing energy demand. Continued reliance on fossil fuels particularly in emerging economies will add to the challenge of reaching a global agreement on mitigating energy’s contribution to climate change. The Obama administration has chosen to take on the energy and environment policy challenge concurrently with pursuing economic recovery and health care reform.


Dr. Thomas Gresik
Professor of Economics and Econometrics, University of Notre Dame

Abstract: Dr. Thomas Gresik will explain how the world's energy markets have experienced dramatic volatility over the last few years. The potential sources of this volatility will be examined and the implications for the future will be discussed. A key issue will be the critical state of investment in energy production. Coupled with strong demand growth in developing countries, government restrictions on new investment in known energy sources have created a system that is under stress. His comments will focus on the need for national policies that promote affordable energy, environmental protection, and energy security.



Fri November 6, 2009
3:30pm, 131 DeBartolo Hall
"Hydrothermal Energy Conversion and Recovery From Biomass and Biothermal Resources"

Jefferson Tester
Croll Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems
Cornell University

Abstract: Recent international focus on the value of increasing the supply of indigenous, renewable energy underscores the need for re-evaluating all alternatives, particularly those that are large and well-distributed on a national or global basis, to expand and diversify the portfolio of options we should be vigorously pursuing.  In this presentation, two renewable energy sources – biomass and geothermal energy - are discussed because of their large potential and their relevance and connection to chemical engineering process fundamentals and development.  Specific examples of basic research into reaction and transport processes in hydrothermal and supercritical water media will be presented to illustrate how new knowledge could lower risks and costs for deploying geothermal and biomass on a much larger scale.

Bio: Dr. Tester is the Croll Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Associate Director of Energy Programs in the Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell University.  For more than three decades he has been involved in chemical engineering process research as it relates to renewable and conventional energy extraction and conversion and environmental control technologies.  His other appointments have included H.P. Meissner Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1996-2009), Director of MIT's Energy Laboratory (1989-2001), Director of MIT’s School of Chemical Engineering Practice (1980-1989), and a group leader in the Geothermal Engineering Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory (1974-1980).  He is currently a member of the advisory boards of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (chair), the American Council of Renewable Energy, Idaho National Laboratory, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.  He is a member of the IPCC’s Working Group on Renewable Energy Sources and has served as a member of the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust (chair) and the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland.  He was a member of the 1997 Energy R&D Panel of the President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), and has served as an advisor to the USDOE and the National Research Council in areas related to concentrating solar power, geothermal and biomass energy, and other renewable technologies and waste minimization and pollution reduction.



Thur October 15, 2009
4:00pm, 129 DeBartolo Hall
"Carbon Capture and  Sequestration: Progress, Challenges, and Opportunities"

Dan Connell
Research and Development Engineer
CONSOL Energy, Inc.

Abstract: It is likely that some form of climate change legislation will soon be enacted in the United States, with major implications for the nation’s energy industry.  The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in June 2009 and is now before the Senate, calls for U.S. greenhouse gas emissions ultimately to be reduced by 83% from 2005 levels by 2050.  Such a target would require drastic cuts in emissions from a variety of sources, including coal-fired power plants, which account for about a third of the country’s total carbon dioxide emissions.  Coal currently produces about half of the electricity in the United States, and the nation will likely continue to depend on this low-cost fuel as an important part of its generation mix because of its abundant domestic coal reserves, its large existing asset base of reliable coal-fired power plants, and the limitations associated with alternative energy sources.  Moreover, climate change is a global issue, and developing countries such as China and India will continue to rely on coal to meet their rapidly growing energy needs.  China already uses more coal than the United States, and Chinese annual coal consumption is projected to more-than double by 2030.  Hence, it appears unlikely that deep reductions in global CO2 emissions will be realized without technologies for reducing CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants.  Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is the leading candidate for achieving these reductions.

The widespread, full-scale deployment of carbon capture and sequestration is one of the great engineering challenges of the 21st century.  This presentation provides a comprehensive overview of the present state of CCS technologies.  It is technically feasible to capture and sequester CO2 from power plants using commercially available or near-commercial technologies; however, CCS is very expensive, and the available technologies would have to be applied in new ways and at an unprecedented scale in order to effect the level of CO2 emission reductions being contemplated in the U.S. and worldwide.  Widespread deployment of CO2 capture and sequestration using today’s best available technologies would have a substantial impact on our economy and energy supply.  Retrofitting a coal-fired power plant with amine scrubbing for 90% CO2 capture can triple its cost of producing electricity and decrease its net electrical output by 30%.  A new integrated gasification combined-cycle plant with CCS can have 50-100% greater capital costs and ≥60% greater cost of producing electricity than a new supercritical pulverized coal plant without CCS.  Additional challenges include social acceptance and permitting of CCS projects, as well as questions regarding long-term ownership of liability for the sequestered CO2.  Hence, improvements are needed to significantly reduce the cost and energy requirements associated with carbon capture and sequestration technologies and to facilitate the implementation and acceptance of these technologies.  The areas of greatest need, and the work being done to address them, will be highlighted.

Bio: Since joining CONSOL in 2003, Dan’s work has focused on the environmental implications of fossil fuel utilization.  He leads CONSOL’s research on carbon dioxide capture technologies, multi-pollutant control, and ambient air quality.  Dan authored the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership’s carbon dioxide capture technology assessment, and he currently is working on projects to develop solid chemical absorption and chemical looping combustion technologies for CO2 capture.  Dan recently served as Principal Investigator for the Greenidge Multi-Pollutant Control Project, a $33 million clean coal technology demonstration project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, and he is now leading CONSOL’s work on the Pittsburgh Aerosol Research and Inhalation Epidemiology Study, which aims to elucidate the health effects of fine particulate matter in the Pittsburgh region.  Dan earned his B.S. in chemical engineering, summa cum laude, from the University of Notre Dame, and he has authored or co-authored a number of journal articles and conference proceedings on air pollution and emissions control.  Dan is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Air and Waste Management Association, and he serves on the advisory boards for the Electric Power Conference & Exhibition and the University of Pittsburgh Academic Consortium for Excellence in Environmental Public Health Tracking.



Mon October 5, 2009
4:00pm, 129 DeBartolo Hall
"Grim Fairy Tales: Myths that Enable Our Addiction to Coal"

Michael Hogan
Power Programme Director
European Climate Foundation

Abstract: There’s too much scientific uncertainty about climate change to justify drastic action. “Business as usual” with “incremental change” is the low-cost option.  Coal is plentiful and cheap. Renewables are intermittent and unreliable. “Clean coal” technology will solve coal’s “climate” problem. China won’t act, so it doesn’t matter what we do. For the foreseeable future there is no alternative to coal if we want to maintain our standard of living. These are some of the seductive storylines promoted by the coal industry and by many utilities. Sadly, efforts to promote alternatives have also been plagued by unhelpful myths, such as the belief that if we simply build enough wind farms we won’t need any coal plants, or that if we put a price on carbon the market will deliver the solution. Nearly the entire range of plausible climate outcomes encompasses unprecedented threats to our national security. The remaining debates within the scientific community – over the fact of disruptive climate change, whether we are driving it, and whether we can mitigate it – all now take place within a range of probabilities that puts us well beyond the point where it is also a defining moral challenge. There are alternatives; they are commercially viable now or can be within a decade; they are not cheap but they are surprisingly affordable; they are probably not what you think; and we have no more time to waste.

Bio: Mr. Hogan began his career in 1980 with GE’s Power Systems business.  Beginning in 1988, he helped build the J. Makowski Co. in Boston into a leading U.S. private power developer.  After selling the company in 1994, he and other JMC executives founded private power developer InterGen.  He spent the next seven years in London leading the growth of InterGen’s regional business unit, successfully developing, financing and operating 8,000MW of greenfield power plants across the U.K., the Netherlands, Egypt and Turkey.  He returned to the U.S. to lead InterGen’s North American business in 2001 and 2002, after which he joined Centrica’s North American affiliate Direct Energy, based in Toronto, as head of its upstream gas and power businesses.  He holds an MBA from Harvard and an SM from MIT in Planning, and a BA in Philosophy and a BS in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.



Thur September 17, 2009
5:30pm, Hesburgh Library Auditorium
"Spain: Bringing Renewable Energy to the U.S. and Beyond"

Enrique Alejo
Economic and Commercial Counselor of Spain for the Midwest Trade Commision of Spain (TCS) in Chicago

Abstract: Why is Spain home to some of the world's largest, most successful producers of renewable energy?
Keys to Spain’s success in the renewable energy sector include: strong government backing, profitable investments and availability of natural resources.

· By the end of 2008 Spain installed 16,470 MW of wind capacity and was the third largest producer of wind energy globally and first per capita.

· In 2008, solar installed capacity was over 3.1 GW, making Spain the second largest producer of solar power in the world.

· Spain is a key producer of ethanol and biodiesel in Europe and companies such as Abengoa, Acciona and Repsol are bringing their expertise to other areas of the world, such as the U.S.

From advanced photovoltaics and high-yield solar farms to state-of-the-art wind turbines and biofuels, Spanish companies are generating solutions to make renewable energy available for everyone.

Bio: Enrίque Alejo currently serves as the Economic and Commercial Counselor of Spain for the Midwest at the Trade Commission of Spain (TCS) in Chicago.  Prior to his assignment at TCS, he has held various positions in the economic and commercial fields with the Spanish administration.  He has served as Director-General of Trade and Investments in the Ministry of Economy, with a variety of responsibilities ranging from management of commercial policies to international assistance programs. 

As president and CEO of the “Sociedad Estatal Madrid ’94,” Mr. Alejo was in charge of organizing the Assembly of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Madrid in 1994.  He was also Director for “Informacion Comercial Española,” an economic magazine edited by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Finance; and Director of the Division of Professional Training, International Consulting and Publications for the Spanish Institute of Foreign Trade (ICEX).  

Mr. Alejo earned a Ph.D. in Economics from Universidad Complutense de Madrid and an undergraduate degree in Economics from Universidad Autonoma de Madrid.



Wed April 22, 2009
5:00pm, 107 Hesburgh Library Auditorium
"Market Incentives for Sustainability"

Thomas M. Cushing
Senior Vice President of Membership and Business Development
Chicago Climate Exchange

Abstract: The United States has the largest cap and trade program of any nation in the world, operated by the private sector through the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX).  CCX is the world’s first exchange for greenhouse gas emission allowances, and its affiliates operate the largest emissions exchange in Europe and the first exchange for environmental products in China. Tom Cushing will talk about the operation of CCX and the use of financial tools to provide incentives for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Learn why US power companies (AEP, DTE), manufacturers (DuPont, Ford), universities (Michigan State, Oklahoma) and cities (Chicago, Oakland) are reducing emissions and trading carbon through CCX. Think through the implications for the national cap and trade program under development in Washington, DC.

Bio: Before joining CCX, Mr. Cushing practiced as a civil trial attorney in Cook County, Illinois, from 1988 to 2006. In those years he recorded dozens of verdicts and appeals and distinguished himself in the legal community. He was invited to join the Chicago Society of Trial Lawyers, The American Board of Trial Advocates and Loyola University School of Law’s Circle of Advocates. He also taught as an adjunct professor at the Loyola University School of Law, was an invited instructor at DePaul Law School and the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, and was an invited speaker for various bar groups. Mr. Cushing adjusted the focus of his advocacy toward the issue of global climate change when he joined the Chicago Climate Exchange in 2006. He is a Chicago native. Mr. Cushing has been a lifelong teacher, starting his professional career teaching sixth grade for two years. He earned his JD degree from Loyola University School of Law, and his BA (1983) from the University of Notre Dame.