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Securing The Energy Future

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Faculty Leaders

Energy is a key ingredient of almost everything humans do on the planet today, and fossil fuels—coal, oil, and gas—provide most of the world’s energy.  As the demand for energy grows, some of that demand is being met by rapidly growing renewable energy technologies. New advances in oil and natural gas production likewise provide options that help meet needs while reducing reliance on coal, the fossil fuel resource with the greatest environmental and health impacts.

Our scientists and engineers, leaders of Stanford’s cross-school efforts on energy, are world renowned for their research and discovery related to oil, gas, and geothermal energy as well as carbon capture and storage techniques. We are also known for our research  focused on measuring and reducing emissions and water resources impacts, and for applying advanced simulation approaches for understanding and optimizing renewable energy resources.

Stanford, including our school, is investing heavily in research aimed at developing technologies and policies for a “clean” low- or no-carbon energy future. As we move toward that future, we seek to use fossil fuels to meet humanity’s energy needs as efficiently and effectively as possible, with the fewest possible negative consequences, and in a way that fosters and complements the growth of renewable energy sources. Two pathways that hold potential for this transition are accelerating the switch from high- to low-carbon-intensity fossil fuels, and capturing and storing CO2 emissions from them.

New faculty in key areas such as land use planning, fine-pore fluid flow, and energy optimization will boost our work related to improving resource development while limiting seismic, water, and greenhouse gas-related hazards.


NGI Hexagon

Optimizing Natural Gas

Major advances in natural gas production have fundamentally changed the energy outlook in the United States, thrusting this resource into the global spotlight as a potential enabler of a low-carbon energy future.

The Natural Gas Initiative (NGI), launched in February 2015 by Stanford Earth and the Precourt Institute for Energy, engages faculty across the university to carry out research needed to ensure that natural gas is developed and used in ways that are economically, environmentally, and socially optimal.

“If developed in an environmentally sustainable manner, globally abundant natural gas resources will enable large-scale fuel switching for electrical power generation,” says Professor Mark Zoback, director of NGI. “This will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution in many countries, while enhancing energy security and economic growth.” Ten diverse research projects are currently being carried out by Stanford faculty with funding from NGI.


In The News

Critical Challenge Areas

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How can we contribute to a future in which energy is abundant, efficient, and produced in a sustainable and responsible way?

Blue ice flow

Our climate is already changing. How can we both limit the extent of climate change and increase the resilience of communities to its consequences?

Erupting volcano at night

How can we deepen our understanding of natural hazards and discover new approaches to protecting vulnerable populations?

Woman picking rice

How can we help provide the food and clean water needed by a growing population in the context of climate change-related uncertainties?