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Sustainable Energy Initiative

The Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI) advances the understanding of the economic, investment, and policy impacts associated with the deployment of low carbon energy solutions.

There is strong evidence that changes in the world’s climate are in significant part a consequence of greenhouse gases — a result of burning fossil fuels. In response, governments have initiated a wide range of policies, while businesses have embarked on ambitious research and development programs and sizeable capital expenditures. These measures have set in motion the transition to low-carbon economies that will take decades and trillions of dollars in new infrastructure investments.

SEI supports and coordinates research on the transition to energy systems with low carbon emissions. Projects supported by the initiative will focus on the interplay of business fundamentals, technological innovations, and public policy.

Research Focus Areas

  • Carbon pricing and greenhouse gas accounting
  • Cost competitiveness of different energy systems
  • Solar PV industry
  • Carbon capture of fossil fuels
  • Biofuels
  • Commercialization of energy innovations

Policy intervention is crucial in the current environment as traditional energy sources are generally the most economical – as long as one does not account for the impending damage to the world’s climate, which is the social cost of carbon emissions. At the same time, experience with renewable energy shows that the cost-competitiveness of emerging low-carbon energy technologies improves rapidly with experience.

Sustainable Energy Lab

Stanford faculty and students are doing research and development on a wide range of products and business models that have both potential commercial and environmental value. Among them are some that could help solve the global problem of emitting greenhouse gases. To date, many of these ideas remain in the labs and classrooms because they fail to attract the resources to properly explore their commercial potential.

Beginning in January 2016, the lab will make available a database of current Stanford energy projects, and related details. Please contact us for more information.