Bank of America is GCEP’s newest corporate sponsor, joining ExxonMobil, GE, Schlumberger and DuPont in support of advanced research in sustainable energy technologies.

Bank of America has joined Stanford University’s Global Climate & Energy Project (GCEP), a collaboration of academic and business experts that identifies and supports new avenues of research to make environmentally sustainable, low-cost energy available to everyone.

Bank of America will contribute a valuable new perspective to the input of the corporate sponsors of GCEP. The collaboration will benefit from the bank’s expertise in financing sustainable businesses dedicated to addressing climate change and advancing low-carbon solutions. Bank of America is also actively reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its own operations.

“All of humankind needs energy that is reliable, cleaner and more affordable,” said GCEP’s director, Sally Benson, a professor of energy resources engineering at Stanford. “Meeting that need in both the developed and developing world requires an all-of-the-above approach to research, reducing emissions from using fossil fuels and developing renewable energy options.”

“We are delighted to welcome Bank of America as our newest corporate partner," Benson said. “Its commitment to sustainable energy, knowledge of commercial potential and experience in global markets will aid our research.”

Innovation pipeline

Since its inception 11 years ago, GCEP has been recognized as an innovation pipeline throughout the energy sector, while it also is training and educating the next generation of leaders in energy.

“Our goal is to keep that innovation pipeline filled with new ideas, new approaches and new, young experts committed to our sustainable energy vision,” Benson said. “This is one of the most exciting areas of research today and students at universities around the world are eager to be part of it.” In addition to its expertise, Bank of America has committed $2.5 million a year to GCEP for an initial period of three years.

GCEP supports research not only at Stanford, but also at universities around the world. Ongoing interactions with the research organizations at GCEP’s corporate sponsors help sharpen the focus of the project’s fundamental science and engineering investigations.

“Transitioning from a high- to low-carbon economy is necessary to address climate change, and Bank of America is playing a role in advancing this critical effort,” said Tom Montag, Bank of America’s co-chief operating officer.

“We are thrilled to work with GCEP and join ExxonMobil, GE, Schlumberger and DuPont in GCEP’s mission to develop better ways to produce, use, store and conserve energy,” Montag said.

GCEP’s existing sponsors welcomed their new partner. “Their viewpoint will complement that of the other members and provide valuable insight to the project’s staff and researchers,” said Rod Nelson, Schlumberger’s head of government and community relations and the company’s representative on GCEP’s management committee.

“Bank of America will add valuable insight to GCEP from its environmental business initiative, which supports the financing and capital markets needs of environmentally focused energy clients,” said Pete Trelenberg, ExxonMobil’s manager, environmental policy and planning, and the company’s representative on GCEP’s management committee.

Bank of America’s member on the GCEP management committee will be James Mahoney, the bank’s corporate communications and public policy executive.

Pioneering research

GCEP has 111 full-term research programs and to date has invested $140 million in research. About 40 percent of the awards have gone to non-Stanford researchers at 39 institutions in the United States, Australia, China, Japan and Europe.

GCEP-supported investigations have led to significant advances in solar power, biomass energy, hydrogen fuels, advanced combustion, carbon capture and sequestration, fuel cells, electric vehicles and the electric grid.

Examples of the potentially transformative discoveries and inventions in GCEP’s portfolio of technologies include the identification of a gene that could help produce low-cost biofuels from environmentally friendly crops, optimized engine design for cars to radically improve fuel efficiency, and a technique to wirelessly charge electric vehicles on the road.

Several of GCEP’s studies have blossomed into multimillion-dollar research programs, including Caltech’s Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, the Bay Area Photovoltaic Consortium and the Stanford Center for Carbon Storage.

While Stanford and collaborating academic institutions hold legal title to all technology, patents and information derived from GCEP-funded research, corporate sponsors receive a royalty-free license to the patents. Participating universities and sponsors can license the technology to other entities.

Bank of America can help move GCEP technologies to commercialization. “The perspective they will bring not only on developing breakthrough energy and environmental technology, but also on the complexity of introducing those technologies into the marketplace, will be appreciated,” said James Maughan, technical director at GE Global Research and member of GCEP’s management committee.

In addition to supporting research, GCEP has also helped educate and train tomorrow’s energy pioneers. It has provided more than 700 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers around the world the opportunity to focus on energy during a very creative time in their lives. Many of them now work in the energy field.

“GCEP is accelerating innovative research which can have a greater impact to create sustainable energy solutions,” said Steven Freilich, director of materials science and engineering for DuPont Central Research & Development and the company’s representative on GCEP’s management committee.

While ExxonMobil, GE and Schlumberger are founding sponsors of GCEP, DuPont joined last year. “We are pleased,” Freilich said, “that the membership is continuing to grow.”

By Mark Golden, Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University

Courtesy Stanford News Service.