During the recent climate change negotiations in Paris it became clear that both emerging and developed countries will need to accelerate deployments of renewable energy. This puts many developing countries in a technologically and financially challenging position. Not surprisingly they are keen to accelerate deployment of carbon-neutral technologies.
On May 8, 2016, experts in the fields of energy, the environment and sustainability gathered for a one-day symposium on “Sustainable and Affordable Energy Challenge for the World,” held at New York City’s Columbia University. And Washington University in St. Louis had a prominent role in the gathering.
Himadri Pakrasi, the Myron and Sonya Glassberg/Albert and Blanche Greensfelder Distinguished University Professor and director of the International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability (I-CARES), kicked off the event by presenting the lead address, “Sustainability and Bioenergy: Challenges and Opportunities.”
The symposium aimed to address the issues of integrating high fractions of variable power into the grid. Participants also focused on trying to understand the potential of synthesizing fuels from sunlight and CO2, a tantalizing addition to the climate management tool kit if it can be made to work.
“This one-day symposium showcased the acute need to develop large scale carbon-neutral renewable energy technologies to mitigate the deleterious effects of global warming,” Pakrasi said. “Our planet needs it.”
Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and a special advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, provided opening remarks, touching on the outcomes of the COP21 Paris process.
The event featured some of the most renowned energy thought leaders including Vijay Modi, professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia University; Pramod Khargonekar, assistant director of engineering directorate of the National Science Foundation and Audrey Zibelman, Chair of the New York State Public Service Commission, among others.
The symposium was jointly sponsored by Columbia University, IIT Bombay Heritage Foundation, and the IIT Bombay Alumni Association of Greater New York chapter.