Energy and the environment - A new look by an Old Hand


Courtesy of GLOBE SERIES

I recently received an autographed copy of a new book from a friend that shone new light on an old problem - how to meet the world's energy needs without jeopardizing the environment.

The book, entitled Renewable Energies with Energy Storage, was authored by Winston (Win) Stothert.  In it he tackles three very pressing and interconnected environmental problems - climate, energy and water.

Based on his considerable research, Win puts forward a refreshing message on how we can develop our vast renewable energy resources in a manner that would address or need for energy without creating new environmental problems.

He explores the use of renewable energy resources linked directly in the grid utilizing electrolysis to hydrogen technologies and compressed air energy storage systems. The electric power from these storage systems, he argues, could be used to fuel vehicles, eventually reducing our dependency on fossil fuels and lowering greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

While many of the ideas Win puts forward have been discussed by others, there is one compelling factor about his analysis that in my mind puts his perspective in a class of its own.

That factor is the author's breadth of experience and the fact that his ideas are rooted in a keen sense of real world practicality.

For those who may not be familiar with Win Stothert you should take note that in his 80 plus years he has never stopped asking the 'What if…' question.

Raised on a still operating Alberta cattle ranch, he served in the navy reserve during World War II and used the knowledge gained from a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering with Honors from the University of Alberta and a M.A. Sc. in Applied Science from the University of Toronto to propel him through a succession of post-war career moves than spanned industry and government.

Ranging from Chief Electrical Inspector for the Province of Alberta, Project Engineering Manager at Brown & Root Corp. (now KBR/Halliburton), to General Plant Manager, Celanese Corp., Win never stopped exploring practical solutions to real world problems.

He eventually became Chairman & CEO of his own firm, Stothert Engineering Ltd., involved in the planning, design, construction, management, and operation of industrial Projects in over 60 countries - including the development and operation of electricity generation from coal, oil, natural gas, wood reside, hydro, garbage and wind,

He has served as Chairman, British Columbia Research Corp; as a Director of the Churchill Corp. (involved in industrial and commercial construction); and as Chairman, Hillsborough Resources Ltd., involved in underground coal mining.

Suffice it to say, he knows what he is talking about.

Even today, at an age when most people would be enjoying a relaxed retirement, Win's current business interests include serving as Chairman of SES (Engineering) Ltd., a company involved in a wide range of professional engineering services for various aspects of the power and electrical utility industries, including project management, renewable energy development, research on hydrogen fuel economies, and other renewable energies and energy storage technologies.

He is a Member of the U.S.-based National Hydrogen Association; President, Lakes Ranch Land and Cattle Ltd; and Chairman of RELabs Research Inc. (NFP), a company involved in providing support services to research centres and testing services.

His community and public service record is equally as impressive: Church Steward and Elder; Group President, Boy Scouts; Councilor, Alberta Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists; President and Governor, British Columbia Chamber of Commerce; Director, Vancouver Board of Trade; Director and executive Committee, Canadian Chamber of Commerce; Governor, Business Council of British Columbia; Chairman, B.C. Branch, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business; Chairman, B.C. Branch, and Vice-Chairman, Canadian Exporters Association; Vice-Chairman, British Columbia Trade Development Corporporation; Chairman, Friendship House, Residence for Aboriginal High School Students; and Director, of Vancouver's Millennium Skytrain Rapid Transit Project.

So when someone with the breadth of knowledge and experience possessed by Win Stothert says we can solve these troublesome environmental problems - or should I say - 'meet these solvable environmental challenges', I sit up and take note.

Says Win ' …renewable energy can be produced in sufficient quantities, at a reasonable combination of investment and operational costs, together with electricity production from natural gas combined cycle turbines systems to supply all the world's needs for many generations.'  

He adds 'Electricity and hydrogen from renewables can fuel all of the world's transport vehicles without need for gasoline from crude oil.'

I have worked in many areas related to the business of the environment for a number of years (not nearly as many years as Win Stothert), but when I read his conclusions, which are based on a lifetime of service and diligent inquiry, I am reassured that we can meet those tough challenges he talks about - climate, energy and water.

Keep it up, Win, we need your fresh ideas!

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