Engineering Inc. - March/April 2007 - (Page 52)

O N E ON ONE Diversification Is Key to America’s Energy Future Q Ralph Peterson is chairman and CEO of CH2M HILL in Englewood, Colo. . What are the primary challenges in achieving energy independence? A . How important is the move to alternative energy sources? Q . I would rate the robust diversification of America’s energy supply as one of the nation’s most important public policy issues. This is about much more than just reducing dependence on foreign energy sources. It is about developing new options to meet future global energy demands while reducing energy price spikes and volatility, coupled with reducing the capacity of energy-supplying countries to destabilize petropolitics and fostering stable global economic growth. The key is for the U.S. to mobilize the political will to set a consistent, long-term and technically sound energy policy based on what is right instead of who is wrong—a policy that puts engineering realism ahead of pork and patronage. A tall order, I know, but as someone once said, “political will is a renewable resource.” 52 ENGINEERING INC. A . The sheer volume of energy we require for power generation, industrial production, buildings and transport systems will, as a practical matter, prevent us from achieving energy independence. Moreover, the sheer magnitude of global energy demand to fuel our planet’s economic growth involves an inherent degree of global interdependency. We need to diversify our energy options to stabilize prices and keep us from being overly dependent on any one energy source or region. So I think the real goal is energy stability and security, not independence. rapidly expanding as well. We also are engaged on several exciting biofuels projects and are particularly enthused with those that seek to develop cellulosic ethanol and those that utilize existing biomass. Each of these alternatives and many others, such as hydrogen systems, more fuel-efficient vehicles and other creative solutions, are going to be required to meet our future energy needs. This is truly exciting stuff! years to be in our engineering profession, because solving this puzzle is going to be a rewarding professional experience. Q . What environmental and energy challenges to the engineering industry do you see emerging in the next several years? A Q . How do you think the recent push to address global warming/climate change will affect the engineering and infrastructure community? A Q. A Can you discuss CH2M HILL’s involvement in alternative energy infrastructure? What do you see as the most promising growth areas in this market? . This is a field of very rapid growth for us. We are active in the wind energy business, which is undergoing unprecedented growth worldwide—one of the most competitive of the alternative energy segments today. Though solar is a longer-term player and requires technology advancements to lower its cost, the solar industry is . I am among those who believe we are headed for a carbon-constrained future— one that already is upon us. Over time we almost surely will see the widespread use of carbon cap-and-trade systems around the world. In the intermediate to longer term, there is a reasonable likelihood that we also will see substantial carbon taxes. These movements, driven by climate change considerations, will bring a host of technology investments, energy portfolio changes and shifts in the energy mix. These are big impacts, but also exciting opportunities for engineering innovation and creativity. I only wish I had another 40 . In the next 10 to 25 years, the engineering industry faces myriad challenges in technology trends, energy portfolio changes and emerging environmental issues. But the number one challenge, and one that is expected to intensify over the coming years, is the availability of human capital resources—the people needed to respond to today’s and tomorrow’s energy and environmental challenges. An aging workforce, a declining supply of engineering graduates in the U.S. and global competition for talent all are at work here. We need to orchestrate, with our clients, creative solutions to this challenge. This involves training new workforces, engaging the retiring/retired community, leveraging technology to tap into global resources and encouraging new people to join our industry. A portfolio of solutions is the only way to address the magnitude of the challenge our engineering industry faces. ■ MARCH / APRIL 2007

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Engineering Inc. - March/April 2007

From ACEC to You
News & Notes
Legislative Action
Market Watch
Cover Story: Alternative Energy
The Greening of Wal-Mart
Re-Energizing the Industry
The BIM Boom
Help Wanted: Leaders for Tomorrow
The Path of Perseverance
ACEC/PAC Achieves Record Fundraising Year
ACEC Annual Convention
Helping Firms Manage Healthcare Costs
Facilities Management for A/E Firms
Business Insights
Members In The News
One on One

Engineering Inc. - March/April 2007