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- How can countries set up institutions to support innovation in clean energy technologies, given the dearth of private sector capital to solve really hard problems, like commercializing next-generation nuclear reactors? Are institutions like ARPA-E in the US or the Fraunhofer Institutes in Germany good models?
- What does a realistic global decarbonization pathway look like? Some argue that the best way to do it is to electrify the entire economy (electric vehicles, electrification of industry, etc.) and reduce emissions in the upstream power sector by 80 percent by mid-century. Others argue that we should focus on clean fuels to displace petroleum because electrification is infeasible in many cases.
- How can digitalization advance clean energy systems rather than dirty ones? The danger of some digital innovations, such as autonomous vehicles, is that emissions might actually increase. However, with appropriate public policy, digitalization can be a force for decarbonisation—it just will not happen by itself.
About the Speaker
Varun Sivaram is the Philip D. Reed Fellow for Science and Technology at the Council on Foreign Relations. He teaches “Clean Energy Innovation” at Georgetown University, is a Fellow at Columbia University’s Centre for Global Energy Policy, and serves on Stanford University’s energy and environment boards. He has advised both the mayor of Los Angeles and the governor of New York on energy policy and was formerly a consultant at McKinsey & Co. He holds a PhD in condensed matter physics from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and undergraduate degrees in physics and international relations from Stanford University. PV Magazine has called him the “Hamilton of the solar industry,” and Forbes Magazine named him one of its 30 under 30 in 2017.
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