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2013 Abstracts

Assessment of Energy Use and Renewable Energy Growth Potentials in Utah

Buchanan Kerswell, Utah Valley University

Academic Affairs

Increase in population and wealth in Utah will likely result in increased fossil fuel consumption. Consequently it will lead to more environmental problems, especially air quality and health issues. It is essential to further the research and assessment of renewable energy sources. The objective of this research is to compile, analyze, map and assess energy data from the Utah Geological Survey, Utah Office of Energy Development and Utah Department of Environmental Protection. Our project will give public a clear picture of air quality and energy use coupling with population and economic growth. ArcGIS maps and statistical analysis will be made using the available database. Furthermore, detailed assessments on the development potentials of different renewable energy sources (e.g. solar, wind, geothermal) in Utah will be conducted using ArcGIS. Our preliminary data analysis on fossil fuels indicates that consumption and expenditures have grown over time with population growth. A notable fact is that when expenditures have risen rapidly, consumption tends to decline. The most recent evident periods are during the early 1980s and in the early 2000s, when oil prices were rapidly increasing. Furthermore, the data show that air quality is closely correlated with the quantity of fossil fuel consumed, especially given Utah’s special topography (the valley effect). The data on renewable energy sources have revealed that all renewable energy sources together provide less than 1% of energy need in Utah. Although the growth and development have varied during the last half century, there is a steady growth in geothermal, solar and wind energy over the last decade. Results from ArcGIS mapping will provide useful insights on zoning and assessing potential renewable energy sources in Utah. Renewable energy is the key to our economic growth and clean air in Utah. It is essential that the transition from a primarily carbon-based energy portfolio be to one that includes a greater mix of renewable sources. Further results, analyses and maps will be presented during the meeting.