Energy Talks 2/12: Iran Nuclear Deal

Geopolitics is important in many scientific endeavors, and for the energy sector this is most evident around discussions of nuclear power. Nuclear reactions can generate electricity with lower emissions of climate and health impacting pollutants, but there is a fear that the nuclear materials will be weaponized. We will discuss some of the political issues surrounding this with a focus on the recent nuclear deal with Iran.

4/17- Energy Talks: Special Guest Frank Kreith

Fossil Fuel Divestment for a Sustainable Future

Frank Kreith will join us to discuss transitions to sustainable energy. He will combine information about possible options for a sustainable energy future and how fossil based industries would be a poor investment economically as these futures are realized. Frank Kreith has spent seven decades researching and and teaching about renewable energy. He will join us to share his knowledge on possible energy futures with a focus on sustainable pathways. He is also the author of the book Sunrise Delayed- A Personal History of Solar Energy.

Special Guest John Perlin–February 27

Come join us for a special Energy Talks with our guest John Perlin, author of “Let It Shine: The 6000-Year Story of Solar Energy.” Listen to an engaging presentation as John “pairs the successes and failures of solar pioneers with discussions of how early and modern people made use of the sun. Discussions  pair a history of mankind’s achievements with documentation of the solar industry hallmarks of change. The result is an excellent, extensive, yet lively survey of solar energy ideas through the centuries.’-Midwest

February 13–Nuclear Power

There has been a lot of discussion nationally and globally about whether nuclear power is a pathway to a lower carbon future or whether it is a risk worth taking. France’s electricity comes dominantly from nuclear power, Germany is trying to reduce its use of nuclear for electricity generation, and Japan may be restarting some of the nuclear power plants that it closed after the Fukushima meltdown. We will present some of the viewpoints and then open the floor for discussion.

February 6–Oil Prices

This week we will be talking about oil prices. We will discuss reasons why prices might have fallen for the last six months and  why and if that decline is over. We will also discuss what affect oil prices have on the economy and the energy system. We will first review what some analysts think about these questions and then discuss our own thoughts and knowledge. If you want to review the state of oil in the US, look over the EIA’s current data and analysis of what’s up with oil.

December 5 — Natural Gas Power Plants

This week we will be discussing natural gas power generation. Natural gas is currently one of the fastest growing energy sources. We will compare the different types of gas-fired power generation such as simple cycle, combined cycle, and reciprocating engine technologies. We’ll then talk about the pros and cons of natural gas and compare it with other energy sources like coal. Feel free to check out some information about natural gas power generation before Friday.

This Energy Talks will also lead nicely into our tour of the Plains End natural gas power plant south of Boulder during the afternoon. If you are joining for the tour, we’ll be leaving shortly after Energy Talks and will return to CU around 3:30. Find out more information and reserve your spot on the tour here (or through our events calendar).

12/1/14 – Monthly Meeting: Breaking Bad (Energy Behavior) with Bill LeBlanc

Breaking Bad (Energy Behavior)
Bill LeBlanc — E Source

Why did people stop throwing trash out their car windows in the 60s? Why are fewer people smoking (it’s not for health reasons)? Why did the Prius catch on? How can we use social science to change behavior in the energy and transportation world? Bill LeBlanc will talk with the CU Energy Club about the power of behavior change programs and messages to help steer our national (and campus) energy use in a different direction. This will be fun!

Bill LeBlanc is the Chief Instigation Agent at E Source. He is a nationally known expert in energy efficiency and behavior change marketing, and makes speeches all over the U.S. to utility and energy audiences, and he founded the Association of Energy Services Professionals. He also happens to be a part time stand up comedian. Click HERE to check out a video with funny highlights of his “Power Walking” series where he asks energy questions to random people on the street.

Plains End Power Plant

We have the opportunity to go on a tour of the Plains End natural gas-fired power plant south of Boulder off of Highway 93. The Plains End Generating Station is a 228MW reciprocating engine peaker plant that is capable of quickly ramping up in times of peak demand. More information about Plains End can be found here.

If you have a spot on the tour, we will be meeting at the small parking lot just north of the Engineering Center near the Discovery Learning Center at 1:15PM on Dec. 5th. We will then head to the Plains End facility south of Boulder where our tour is scheduled for 2PM. The tour will last about 45 minutes to an hour, so we should be back on campus around 3:30PM.

Note that we will meet for the tour right after Dec. 5th’s Energy Talks which will cover the topic of natural gas-fired electricity generation.

Find out more information and sign up for the tour.


This week’s energy talk will discuss some of the externalities of energy production and use. We will first define the term externality and then discuss some of the external costs associated with energy. We will also discuss how this information can be used to inform, and possibly change, the behavior of energy consumers, to get your thoughts flowing before Bill LeBlanc’s talk on changing behavior at our Monthly meeting December 1.