INL helps southern Idaho showcase sustainable energy resources
By Marilyn Whitney, INL Communications & Governmental Affairs
The south central region of Idaho was dubbed the "Magic Valley
" in the early 1900s when construction of dams and irrigation canals transformed nearly uninhabitable ground into some of the most productive farmland in the Northwest. This part of the state is once again experiencing a transformation, this time through the development of an array of renewable energy resources.
Idaho National Laboratory recently partnered with the Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization (SIEDO) and the College of Southern Idaho (CSI) as a major sponsor of the Sustainable Energy Conference 2010.
According to Jan Rogers, Executive Director of SIEDO, the region can boast developments in four of the five renewable energy arenas — hydropower, wind, geothermal and biomass — with a large commercial solar project in the planning stages.
The two-day conference included tours of several area energy projects including Tuana Springs wind farm in Glenns Ferry, Cargill Biofactories in Hansen, Raft River geothermal project, Pacific Ethanol in Burley and the Twin Falls hydroelectric plant.
Presentations and panel discussions held on CSI's campus in Twin Falls featured an overview of INL's world-class energy and national security initiatives and an update on cleanup efforts from Rick Provencher, manager of the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho Operations Office.
Provencher shared DOE's nuclear energy research and development roadmap and the 10-year plan to invest in new INL facilities and revitalize existing capabilities to develop clean energy technologies.
To set the stage for the conference's 15 breakout sessions, INL's Bob Neilson provided perspectives on global energy challenges and sustainability issues. Gary Seifert, INL senior program manager, facilitated a breakout session on wind energy development in Idaho. And Melinda Hamilton, bioenergy lead at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, provided an update on the CAES bioenergy initiative.
The conference luncheon featured a presentation by Paul Kjellander, administrator for Idaho's Office of Energy Resources. Kjellander highlighted the work of the Idaho Strategic Energy Alliance, which he says is "one of the most important efforts undertaken since OER was established."
One of the most popular breakout sessions of the conference was a panel on identifying and pursuing resources for renewable energy development. Representatives from Idaho's Department of Commerce, Small Business Development Center and Idaho TechConnect provided attendees with information about the availability of federal, state and local resources including financial incentives for energy projects. Nearly half of the session's 50 attendees had project ideas they wanted to pursue. As a result, a more in-depth workshop to discuss the nuts and bolts of developing a project is planned for next spring at CSI.
In all, more than 120 participants attended what organizers hope will become an annual sustainable energy conference. In addition to the developers, agencies and businesses at the event were 25 students from CSI's renewable energy program and Idaho State University's Energy Systems Technology and Education Center. The students all received scholarships from INL to cover registration costs.
Global Energy Needs and Sustainability Issues
DOE-Idaho Overseeing legacy cleanup, and growth of world-class energy and national security research