ExxonMobile executive talks alternative energy at UI

Future changes in the energy sector due to a growing global energy demand were presented Thursday evening at the Beckman Institute. Michael Loudin, manager for Global Geoscience Hiring and Development at ExxonMobil Exploration Company, talked about his experience in the field and what he believes to be its future.

“Energy sources will change, they have changed, they will continue to change,” Loudin said.

He illustrated the relative usage of different energy sources throughout the past 150 years to provide a background for the current global energy demand. He noted the lack of alternative energy sources, like wind energy, throughout much of the 20th century.

“The alternative energy movement really didn’t start accelerating until about five or six years ago,” Loudin said.

His presentation was the first in the Prairie Research Institute lecture series in over a year. The Prairie Research Institute consists of applied scientists working on local issues with the environment, said Steve Wald, assistant to the executive director of the institute.

“We apply science to solve problems in Illinois,” Wald said. “(The Prairie Research Institute) is where science becomes relevant.”

The institute’s overall mission is “cleaning up and reinventing the energy sector,” but this is always related back to the local communities, Wald said.

This lecture was the result of a recommendation based on Loudin’s previous energy lectures, he added.

Toward the end of his talk, Loudin said questions about an energy source’s affordability, reliability and environmental impact should be asked of each individual country.

This exercise showed that while one source of energy may work well for one country, it might not be the best option for another due to geographic or economic constraints, he said.

Loudin said ExxonMobil wants to have greenhouse gas emission regulations decided by the people.

“We think that they need to be regulated and how much they need to be regulated is a political decision,” he said. “It’s up to all of us as voters to let our wishes be known.”

Jon Adam, senior in Engineering, said he appreciated an industry perspective on energy demand but disagreed with ExxonMobil’s approach to meeting it.

“In the short term, I’d like to see more transparency as far as the true market value of different fuels,” Adam said. “We should utilize the ones that give people the best energy while still maintaining a level of clean air.”