Office of the President
Dr. Patrick T. Harker is the 26th president of the University of Delaware. He also serves as professor of business administration in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics and professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering.
Creating the Clean Energy Economy
December 13, 2010
Good morning and welcome to “Creating the Clean Energy Economy.” This is part of the University’s long-running conference series designed to bring together all the parties needed to effect real, beneficial change in the state, the region, and the nation.
We’re hosting today’s forum with the critical sponsorship of several Delaware agencies, universities, and companies. You’ll find them in your program. I especially want to thank Governor Markell for his support of this program. And I’m grateful to DuPont for its leadership role as conference co-sponsor.
This partnership of public, private, academic, nonprofit, and community organizations represents the very cross-section of interests we need at the table to confront the challenges—and maybe more aptly—the opportunities before us. We have a terrific line-up of speakers who will address these opportunities, including: Senator Tom Carper, Governor Jack Markell, DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman, UD Energy Institute Director Mike Klein, and DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara. And today’s panel participants comprise a who’s who of the people driving energy science, policy, and innovation in Delaware, the region, and beyond.
In tomorrow’s workshops, we’ll dig into the hands-on strategies for pursuing our energy priorities and creating a community here in Delaware that leads the way to a clean-energy future.
Truly, there are few issues on the national landscape that require as much creative thought and innovative collaboration as growing an economy powered by renewable energy. There’s not going to be a better time for higher education and the private sector to partner in green-energy invention and large-scale commercialization, or for the government to focus and funnel resources to this new industry development, and to enact legislation that allows it to thrive.
The devil may be in the details, but without doubt, this is the basic recipe for sparking innovation, creating jobs, growing businesses, encouraging entrepreneurship—and, ultimately, seizing what many in both the public and private sectors consider the most significant market opportunity out there today—a $6 trillion industry.
Clean Energy’s Economic Potential
Investment in the clean-energy sector worldwide has grown 230 percent since 2005. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, the clean-energy industry declined just 6.6 percent in 2009, despite the worst global financial downturn in more than half-a-century.
Last year, $162 billion was invested in clean energy around the world. And in each of the last three quarters of 2009, clean-energy investments in the G-20 nations averaged $32 billion. When the tallying is done on 2010, forecasters expect the year’s global clean-energy investments to have grown 25 percent to $200 billion.
If this sort of bullishness in the sustainable-energy market seems like enough reason to invest in it, we do well to remember the significant non-economic benefits as well—achieving energy security and independence, protecting environmental resources and alleviating climate change, strengthening national security, and reducing global conflict.
This is the nexus where opportunity meets need. And I think we’re all here because we know it. We know that economic vitality and environmental sustainability are not mutually exclusive.
Delaware’s Energy Strengths
And Delaware’s the state that will prove it to others. Look at our leadership in solar, wind, fuel cells, electric vehicles, and V2G.
And look past that leadership to the infrastructure and advantages that are making it possible. We have a state government fully committed to prioritizing energy innovation and industry development, and a Congressional delegation leading the nation in the very same direction. We have global corporations right here in Delaware that realize the potential of the clean-energy sector and are directing their market efforts there. We have plenty of smaller firms and start-ups that are nimble and grabbing ground in clean energy—fast.
We have a strong and capable manufacturing base, and many thousands of Delaware families who know the state’s days as a hub for profitable manufacturing aren’t over. We have a strategic location—right in the center of a booming tech corridor—and a coastal position that lets us take advantage of emerging offshore wind possibilities.
And, finally, in our universities and our private companies, we have what Governor Markell calls a “density of engineering talent that rivals Silicon Valley.” It’s this talent that will develop the technologies that create new industries that grow new jobs that power a new economy—for the state, for the region, for the nation.
UD’s Clean-Energy Contributions
The University of Delaware is invested in this entire cycle—not just in technology development, but in efficient tech-transfer and entrepreneurial incubation. Not just in bringing new jobs to Delaware, but in creating new jobs in Delaware, and preparing a professional workforce that’s fully ready for them.
We have an extensive and important portfolio of energy research—photovoltaics, grid-integrated vehicle technologies, lightweight composites, biomass, wind, next-generation magnets, fuel cells. With twenty centers dedicated to energy and environmental research, we’re generating some of the world’s most promising science in the field.
But energy and the environment aren’t just key strengths at UD; they’re key growth areas. We’ve been making major investments here, and we’ll continue to do so.
We’re planning to hire several new faculty in energy and environmental science and policy. At least half-a-dozen will be recruited through a “cluster” or “group” hire, where we take on a number of faculty in different disciplines—but all of them focused on similar research questions in energy and environmental innovation.
We’re adding new undergraduate and graduate majors in energy and environmental science & policy. By expanding an already enviable slate of energy and environment majors, we’ll develop a pipeline of professionals—academics, engineers, economists, and policymakers—who will build on the work we’re doing right here and right now, and take us further than even we can imagine.
And we’ll catalyze all these education and research efforts with the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Lab, a state-of-the-art space that will house several of our energy and environmental centers, along with multi-college research groups focused on sustainability science and policy. It will be our focal point for collaborations that breed breakthrough ideas, technologies, and sustainable-energy solutions.
There are two fundamental reasons for these investments: 1. We believe we have an absolute imperative to do the interdisciplinary work that will solve this nation’s sustainability crisis, and to be the first-stop resource for other countries aiming to do the same; and 2. We know that economic recovery and growth aren’t consumption-based; they’re innovation-based. And clean energy is clearly one of Delaware’s most promising innovation sectors.
It’s now my pleasure to introduce someone who will help us realize this promise. Michael Klein is the University of Delaware’s Dan Rich Chair of Energy and director of the UD Energy Institute. The institute is one of our newer interdisciplinary research centers, with 250 affiliated researchers working on a full complement of energy technologies, along with their policy opportunities.
Mike is an expert in chemical-reaction engineering, with special emphasis on the kinetics of complex systems. He came back to UD in July, from Rutgers University, where he was the Board of Governors Professor of Chemical Engineering. He served as Rutgers’ dean of engineering from 1998 to 2008.
I say Mike came back to UD because he’s an alumnus and a former faculty member. He earned his bachelor’s here in 1977, before getting his doctorate from MIT. While on UD’s faculty, he was the Elizabeth Inez Kelley Professor of Chemical Engineering, and served in a variety of leadership positions.
He’s editor-in-chief of the American Chemical Society journal, Energy and Fuels, and the reaction-engineering topical editor for the Encyclopedia of Catalysis. Among his many prizes is the R.H. Wilhelm Award in Chemical Reaction Engineering from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
Mike says his goals for the Energy Institute are: to coordinate UD’s energy capabilities and resources; to integrate science & engineering, ethics, policy, and economics to solve our most pressing energy challenges; to expand our academic, industry, and government collaborations; and to make the institute a truly cross-cutting center with international influence. If there’s anyone who can accomplish all these things, it’s Mike Klein.
Please help me welcome him.