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Pulitzer Prize-winner Daniel Yergin: Renewable energy will help drive economy

Tim Kubick / For The Lantern

Earth’s energy systems are complex, and the issues are ever changing, according to Pulitzer Prize-winning author and energy expert Daniel Yergin.
Yergin is best known for his book, “The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power,” which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, but came to Ohio State Tuesday to discuss his latest work “The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World.”
Yergin said the world has changed significantly since his award-winning book hit the shelves. The U.S. was involved in a Cold War, China was a major energy exporter, there was less talk of climate change and oil prices were lower.
“There is a lot to think about in terms of putting a framework around energy for this new book ‘The Quest,’ and the other thing I wanted to do was really try and get the whole pieces of the picture together to have the whole energy spectrum and see how these things fit together rather than just going down one avenue,” Yergin said.
Ronald Sega, vice president and enterprise executive for the Office of Energy and the Environment, introduced Yergin to about 70 OSU students gathered in the U.S. Bank Conference Theater at the Ohio Union on Tuesday morning.
“Back in 2007, I had the privilege of hosting Dan, holding up the copy of ‘The Prize,’ and today I do the same with his new best-seller, ‘The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World,'” Sega said.
Sega holds the executive position as a shared leadership research position between OSU and Colorado State, and also serves as Colorado State’s vice president for energy and the environment.
“The Quest” answers three questions about the modern world’s energy systems. These questions are the availability of energy, energy security, and integrated energy shock, which is linked to the environment.
Yergin engaged the audience with the question about what to expect for the future of energy.
He said his general outlook was that “probably in the next two decades, despite the downturn today, the world economy will double, and incomes will go up a lot. We will see renewables grow a great deal, and we will also see conventional energy grow a great deal.”
Renewable energy comes from resources that are naturally replenished, such as water, sun and wind. Conventional energy is typically a term used for resources derived from fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas.
Emma Lisull, a masters of accounting student, read “The Quest” and was interested in hearing the author.
“His book is so big and it covers so many topics so it was interesting to see which ones he went after so I enjoyed that. One of my favorite things about this discussion was that he focused, at the beginning, on a lot of the characters who are playing a role in the shaping of the energy future. You kind of want to become a player so it was interesting to hear him talk about that,” Lisull said.
Sega said President E. Gordon Gee and OSU’s Office of Energy and Environment sponsored this event.
Yergin said students need to start thinking about shaping the future of energy.
“I think innovation and creativity to address both meeting our energy needs and dealing with externalities of dealing with the issues around energy production consumption is very important,” he said.
Yergin also met with students and community members at 4 p.m. in the Archie M. Griffin East Ballroom.

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