Past Events

Stimulating energy: Future Impacts of a Low-Carbon Energy Sector on the American Economy, May 4th 2009
The energy conference aims to initiate dialogue and foster collaboration between members of energy focused groups across campus, enabling interaction between Harvard students, faculty and researchers interested in energy technologies, policy and economics. We envision the event drawing interest from all schools across the university including, but not limited to, the College, GSAS, SEAS, HKS, HBS, and GSD. To encourage interest across all Harvard schools, our conference will be themed on the intersection of a low carbon energy sector with the American economy, and the effectiveness of President Obama’s Recovery Plan in addressing this issue. We aim to integrate scientific, technical, political and economic aspects of this topical issue throughout the conference.

Summary of event
The “Stimulating Energy” conference held on May 4th, 2009 explored the measures recently taken by the U.S. government to stimulate development in a low carbon energy sector.  In President Obama’s Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the “Stimulus” bill) significant allocations were made to further progress in energy infrastructure and efficiency, mass transit projects, green jobs training, electricity production and advances in automobile technologies.  In an attempt to better understand these new investments and foster connections across the growing energy community at Harvard, a cross-campus collaboration of students organized the Stimulating Energy event.


Bracken Hendricks giving the opening talk.

The conference was comprised of a keynote speaker, two panels and a closing speaker.  Bracken Hendricks, Senior Fellow with the Center for American Progress, functioned as the keynote and offered an overview of the issues at hand, including the steps required to initiate a “Green Recovery”.  Subsequently, the Energy Infrastructure Panel, consisting of Stan Blazewicz, Vice President of National Grid, Bill Hogan, Raymond Plank Professor of Global Energy Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, and Seth Kaplan, Senior Attorney and Director of the Clean Energy and Climate Change Program at the Conservation Law Foundation, spoke to the issue of energy infrastructure development in the Stimulus bill.  This included a discussion of smart grid technologies in the Northeast, demand side reduction in energy use, and the market structure required to encourage infrastructure investment. 


The Energy Infrastructure Panel.

After a short break, the Energy Technologies Panel, comprised of Larry Burns, Vice President of Research & Development and Strategic Planning at General Motors, Daniel Enderton, Executive Director of the Sustainable Energy Revolution Program of the MIT Energy Initiative, and Kurt House, MIT Post-Doctoral Fellow and President of C12 Energy, addressed groundbreaking technologies and the processes behind their development.  The discussion focused on the transportation sector, carbon capture and sequestration and cutting-edge research being conducted by universities. 


The Energy Technologies Panel.

David Cash, Assistant Secretary for Policy of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, brought the issues we face in the energy sector down to the local level, explaining the measures that the state of Massachusetts has undertaken to promote greener practices.   Finally, the conference closed with a poster session that illustrated some of the energy research being conducted by undergraduate and graduate student across campus. 


The conference's reception and poster session afterwards.

We hope that this year’s conference will be the first of many organized by students from across Harvard’s campus and that it provided a forum for Harvard community members to meet other students, faculty and researchers interested in energy.  We would like to offer our thanks to all of our speakers, to our moderators, Professor Jim Anderson and Professor Dan Schrag, and to the Office of the Provost and the Harvard University Center for the Environment for financially supporting this event.

To view streaming videos of the conference talks see below:

For pdf versions of some of the conference talks see below: