Renewable-energy ‘collaboratory’ pushing harder into carbon, changes name

The Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory has changed its name to reflect a broader mission, dropping the “renewable” and adding “research” in its title.

It will now be known as the Colorado Energy Research Collaboratory, an organization that includes CSU, CU Boulder, the Colorado School of Mines and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Since its launch in 2007, the collaboratory has focused its work in biofuels and biorefining, photovoltaic energy generation and wind power. Last fall, it officially launched its work in carbon management and is now adding energy-systems integration to its “research portfolio.”

David Hiller, the executive director of the collaboratory, noted the organization has done work in the carbon management area for the past several years, and that fossil fuels have been part of its mission from the onset.

“We always have and will continue to do much of our work in renewables,” he said. “But carbon management has been on our agenda from the beginning.”

“What we’re really talking about is still trying to clean up our energy systems,” he said. “We want to reduce the carbon impact of those fossil fuels that still provide much of our energy, even as we try to make the switch to renewables.”

“A lot of the advances that we can make in protecting our planet can come from addressing the realities of fossil fuels now and for decades to come,” he added.

The collaboratory pointed out that newly available reserves of natural gas can fuel new electric power plants that are cheaper to build and cheaper to operate than older coal plants. Additionally, modern gas-fired plants can also be powered up and down in response to the need for electricity.
The collaboratory will also work on use of natural gas and electricity in vehicles.
Also, the collaboratory’s new Carbon Management Center will work to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and other global-warming gases. The center will explore the potential for truly clean coal, whether through carbon capture and sequestration technologies or in situ gasification — where underground coal is converted to gaseous fuel — while carbon and other pollutants remain underground.

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