As many countries and organizations around the world have committed to sustainability goals in the face of the most dangerous impacts of climate change, Stanford, and the academy in general, must play an active role in the transition to clean energy, according to Arun Majumdar, the professor of the country. Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability.
“Academics need to step up to the mix and help and unlock the global ecosystem [that] you want to go in the right direction,” he said during a fireside discussion with Yi Cui, director of the Precourt Institute for Energy, Tuesday morning in McCaw Hall at the Stanford Alumni Center.
Majumdar noted that while universities can provide education, ideas and talent, they cannot do anything alone. “Cooperation is very important.”
The presentation was part of Stanford Energy Innovation Day, which convenes research faculty, startups, venture capital firms, angel investors, corporate businesses, and others to discuss deploying energy solutions at speed and scale. Topics include innovation and commercialization, digitization and integration of AI, batteries, charging facilities, grid transformation, energy storage, transportation, and carbon removal.
The event included a launch presentation, speeches, and a networking reception. Stanford’s Global Energy Forum kicks off, a three-day gathering of world leaders participating in strategic discussions about the future of energy.
Stanford Energy Innovation
The fireside discussion opened with a discussion about how power generation differs from information technology startups. Majumdar noted that there are infrastructural challenges associated with the former. For example, the fiber-optic communication infrastructure was developed only a few years ago, but the energy infrastructure, such as the electric grid, has been there for more than a century and, therefore, it is difficult to change.
“That grid is spread all over the world,” he said, adding that business markets are structured around the structure. “In many ways, [innovating for] The energy space is different because those infrastructures are already there.”
When the discussion turned to business, Cui recounted the challenges he faced when starting the company years ago. “It took 14 years to produce something that could be brought to market,” he said. “This is a long journey. Technology is hard. To measure it’s hard.”
Majumdar agreed and noted the importance of combining incremental ideas with research. To help address this problem, the Doerr School of Sustainability has created the Sustainability Accelerator, which is a launch pad for widespread knowledge and expertise at Stanford and to develop potential sustainability technology and policy solutions with external partners around the world.
“If you can adapt the research that we’re doing … to something that we know can make it easier, [then] I think he gets the job done [done] fast,” he said.
Continuing on the theme of collaboration, Majumdar noted the importance of Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, which are now part of the Doerr School of Sustainability.
“What the institutes did was create a connective tissue across the campus, bringing together faculty and students from different backgrounds to solve specific problems, and get out of their comfort zones,” he said. “That was a very important step, and now we’re 15, 20 years into that.
Cui noted that energy research and innovation is happening across the country and around the world, and asked how Stanford will collaborate with potential partners beyond Silicon Valley.
“Our goal and vision is to establish a global network of partners to teach us [about] what are the most pressing issues in the world,” said Majumdar. This is not what people see in Silicon Valley, [but] what are the main issues – the ongoing water crisis in India, ongoing drought in Africa. Our job is to find and listen, number one, to what the real issues are [and] second, to create solutions together.”
Majumdar said that as the world transitions to clean energy, learning from past mistakes will be key.
“This is a major global change in the global economy that we have never seen before, and in this change, we want to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes we made in the 20th century,” he said. , adding that we are living with the unexpected consequences of the past. “So this is about people, at the end of the day, as well. Ensuring that these changes are inclusive [just] as important as technology. “
World Energy Forum
The 2022 Stanford Global Energy Forum will continue on Wednesday and Thursday with several discussions on topics such as sustainable transportation, hydrogen fuel, corporate climate promises, and government energy investment, as well as panel discussions with Stanford faculty.
The Vail Global Energy Forum, the brainchild of founder Jay Precourt, was launched in 2011 with the goal of advancing the public’s understanding of global energy through balanced, fact-based discussion. Each year, more than 300 stakeholders meet in Colorado where, in later years, the forum focused on North America as a growing force in energy. The Global Energy Forum moved to its permanent home at Stanford University in the fall of 2018, where it explores the rapidly changing global energy system and addresses the consequences of these changes.
More information is available on the Global Energy Forum website.