SEPTEMBER 26, 2016 BY
Article written by Suzie Romig and adapted from Steamboat Today
Like many others, Paul Komor moved to Steamboat Springs for the friendly people and beautiful local environment. Yet Komor, a professor who holds a Ph.D. in engineering from Stanford University, spends his days working to educate students and international leaders with the United Nations about the big picture of global energy and environment.
Fresh off a trip to Bonn, Germany, earlier this month to advise the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Komor will be the speaker for the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council’s Talking Green on Sept. 27.
In his presentation “Renewable Energy — The Energy (R)evolution has Begun,” Komor said he will talk about the dramatic changes taking place in energy and, particularly, the “astounding recent growth in renewables.”
“Our energy system is changing dramatically. Many of these changes are good for the environment, yet bad for others — notably, the fossil fuels industry,” Komor said. “Is the energy revolution rapid enough to address climate change? It’s a close race.”
The renewable energy advisor said people can be “cautiously optimistic” about the future of energy and the climate change challenge. Komor spends his days analyzing data from across the world to provide the United Nations with accurate information about the status of renewable energy efforts.
“A committee of the U.N. asked for my guidance on how they can best assist countries mitigate climate change,” Komor said. “The most recent data is showing amazingly rapid growth in the use of solar photovoltaics and dramatic decrease in the cost of solar PV. In the U.S., the cost of wind power is typically lower than that of electricity from fossil fuels.”
Komor also works with the International Renewable Energy Agency, based in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, where the government is a major financial contributor to renewable energy work. The Steamboat resident travels to Abu Dhabi every three months. He also teaches graduate energy courses in the Environmental Studies program at University of Colorado-Boulder.
His packed academic and professional resume includes time as a staff member for the U.S. Congress, directing studies on energy and environmental issues. In 2007, Komor, along with others, was named a contributor for the Nobel Peace Prize that was awarded jointly to U.S. Sen. Al Gore Jr. and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Paul also was the founder and director of the energy education program at CU’s Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute.
While at home, Komor spends time skiing, biking and camping in the Flat Tops with his family, including his wife, Patricia, a tax attorney, and their 9-year-old son.
The inspiration for his life’s work came during an undergraduate summer position in 1981 in his hometown of Ithaca, New York, where he built a methane digester for an agricultural energy efficiency project.
He recalled, “I was struck by the potential to use more renewable energy and use energy more efficiently.”
Suzie Romig is energy outreach coordinator for Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.