Energy Sustainability in Phoenix

Tomorrow morning, Thursday 20th May, 2010, I present a paper at the 4th ASME Energy Sustainability Conference, which is co-located with the American Solar Energy Society National Solar Conference, at the Phoenix Covention Center, Phoenix, Arizona, USA. This is certainly the place to be to find out what is going on in relation to solar energy. The sun shines a lot on Arizona.

My paper is a collaborative one entitled ‘Validation of a simulation model for a combined Otto and Stirling cycle power plant’. In fact this is largely the paper of Barry Cullen, my PhD student, on which Michel Feidt of University Henri Poincaré, Nancy, and Stoian Petrescu of Politehnica University of Bucharest and I are collaborators.On this occasion I have the honour of doing the presenting and, along with that, the opportunity of participating in the Energy Sustainability conference within the context of the Solar conference.

Here, today, I cannot but feel that solar energy has arrived. Perhaps that sounds patronising, given that solar energy has always been the main, almost the only, energy. What I mean, if I can avoid digging myself into a hole, is that here today I feel that the confidence barrier has been crossed: the solar energy industry is being assertive. Rather than seeking to be subsidised, it is seeking to be given a level playing field. I took this from the opening plenary session of the overall conference, which was a panel discussion, from people I spoke to today and from the conference banquet which took place tonight.

I am totally in favour of giving solar energy a fair break. I see it as a vital part of the overall energy mix. But, perhaps I am getting too big for my boots. Some reflection is called for. Below, I am reflected in a piece of art called ‘Art is a Guaranty of Sanity,’ 2006, by Louise Bourgeois, which is in the Phoenix Convention Center. It is gigantic to make men and women humble, perhaps. If art really is a guarantee of sanity we can do with a lot more of it. ‘Sustainability’ is a way of saying ‘global sanity.’

Photo of a piece of art in the form of a giant pivoted circular mirror.

“Art is a Guaranty of Sanity” by Louise Bourgeois