What is GCEP?
The Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) at Stanford University is a long-term science and engineering research effort. GCEP conducts fundamental, pre-commercial research to lay the foundations for energy options that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Who manages GCEP?
Stanford University manages the Project and its faculty conducts a significant portion of the research. Reporting to the Dean of Research, a small GCEP central staff coordinates the research efforts of the principal investigators, at Stanford and external institutions, and works with the sponsors.
What is the goal of this Project?
By combining pre-commercial basic research with the practical know-how of major corporations, we hope to accelerate the development and use of low greenhouse gas-emission energy technologies. The research focuses on developing solutions— through breakthroughs in fundamental science and engineering science— that will help meet society's objectives for abundant energy, high efficiency, clean air, and substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
How was the Project initiated?
Why is Stanford working on this Project?
The concept arose from discussions between Stanford and ExxonMobil, building on some prior research conversations with Schlumberger; then discussions began with other interested companies that shared the belief that the scope of the research needed called for a new type of global collaboration between academia and industry.
Stanford has a long, rich history of developing strategic relationships with the world’s leading technology companies to solve the important problems of the future. Stanford’s participation in the research that led to the information technology revolution is an example of the kind of impact GCEP is intended to have. The areas of energy and the environment are important not only to the future of this country, but indeed to all mankind, and Stanford is committed to investing its resources and energies to develop a significant and relevant presence in these domains. GCEP is led by Stanford, which has a strong academic reputation across the entire field of relevant disciplines, the capability to lead a program of this size, and a history of and reputation for encouraging commercial application of technologies that flow from the research.
What has GCEP accomplished so far?
For a summary of the status of the Project, please see Fact and Figures.
For more information about GCEP’s scientific reports, please see Technical Reports.
Although GCEP is a long-term research program, there are also other benefits beyond just the technical output. GCEP provides a solid academic base for future energy research and is producing a steady flow of talented students who are deeply knowledgeable about the fundamentals of energy conversions. These highly trained people will lead the way in building the world’s new energy systems with lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Sponsorship of GCEP
What companies sponsor GCEP?
Motivated by the need to provide affordable and secure energy with low greenhouse gas emissions, GCEP's founding sponsors—ExxonMobil, GE, Schlumberger and Toyota—joined together in December 2002 to support fundamental science and engineering research to generate a new generation of energy technologies. DuPont and Bank of America joined the GCEP partnership in 2011 and 2013, respectively, bringing new perspectives and insights about the global energy challenge.
In addition to significant financial support, the sponsors help GCEP identify and investigate innovative avenues of research to make environmentally sustainable, low-cost energy available to everyone.
As GCEP continues to build its portfolio of potentially game-changing innovations, it foresees other leading companies coming on board.
- ExxonMobil - The world's largest publicly traded international oil and gas company.
- GE - The world leader in power-generation technology and services.
- Schlumberger - The world's leading oilfield services technology company.
- Bank of America - One of the world's leading financial institutions.
- DuPont - Providing world-class science for the global marketplace since 1802.
- Toyota - The leading global auto manufacturer of hybrid and advanced technology vehicles.
Where can I find the GCEP agreement underlying the Project?
To view and download a PDF file of the agreement, please see Agreement.
Why is this collaboration needed?
Providing energy to a growing world population while reducing greenhouse gas emissions is one of the grand challenges we face in this century. It calls for a new type of collaboration between the best and brightest minds in academia and private industry. Tapping the creativity of Stanford faculty and students, GCEP is focused on “out-of-the-box” energy research based on a 10-50 year time frame, a strategy that it sees as key to creating dramatic change. This kind of research is currently not being done in the private sector or funded by government agencies.
The GCEP sponsors are international companies with experience and expertise in the energy arena. They illuminate the university research process in very important ways—posing questions, challenging researchers, and helping the research groups understand real-world barriers that limit technology implementation. Stanford’s long history of working with the private sector has produced sound practices and guidelines for maintaining the integrity of the research process.
How does the Project ensure the independence of GCEP research?
The Project’s research independence is fully protected.
Many of the sponsors have their own substantial, related research programs.
They have chosen to support research in a university because it brings
a healthy independence of views that they value and support. Academic
freedom is an essential component of that, as both Stanford and the
GCEP sponsors agree.
GCEP is managed by Stanford and governed by the university’s rules for research openness. Stanford has an ironclad policy that requires the results of research be made public and publication is not subject to prior approval or review of any sponsor. Comprehensive scientific reports describing GCEP research to date are currently available on the Project's website. Please see Technical Reports.
A project selection process has been carefully designed to ensure GCEP’s independence in recommending research for funding. Research proposals from faculty groups are subjected to an extensive international peer review process, which is the time tested and generally accepted way that research proposals are typically selected. For more information, please see Project Selection Process.
Operation of GCEP
How does GCEP select projects?
Using input from its faculty Research Theme Leaders and others, GCEP identifies specific technical and topical areas in the energy field in which breakthroughs in fundamental science could have a significant impact in the development of large-scale energy technologies with reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Following assessments of these areas through review of current research, discussion with experts, and workshops and other meetings, GCEP invites proposals from researchers at Stanford and other academic institutions. To facilitate management of the process in some topical areas, GCEP issues a world-wide targeted call for pre-proposals to screen for concepts that may be appropriate for GCEP research before soliciting full proposals.
Each proposal goes through two rounds of reviews with technical experts with no affiliation with Stanford or the sponsors. In parallel with the second round, technical representatives of the sponsors also review the proposals. GCEP technical staff members evaluate all of the comments and review and recommend a slate of projects for funding. The final decision about funding is made by the GCEP Management Committee, which includes one person from each of the sponsors. This committee has accepted the recommendation of the GCEP staff in all funding decisions made to date.
For more information, please see Project Selection Process.
What are some projects on which you are currently working?
Since its launch, GCEP has built a diverse portfolio of innovative research activities. Please see Research Activities
and Analysis Activities
for a complete listing of projects.
Which research areas is GCEP investigating? Which areas will it consider in the future?
We believe that no single technology is likely to meet the energy challenges of the future on its own. It is essential that GCEP explore a range of fundamental research that could lead to a spectrum of energy resources and uses. Please see Research Areas & Activities
for a listing of current and planned research areas.
Which non-Stanford research institutions are involved with GCEP? How does the Project decide at which external organizations it will sponsor research?
Please see External Collaborations for a current list of non-Stanford participants. In keeping with the global scope of the issues being addressed by the Project, GCEP will continue to seek external collaborations with universities and other academic research institutions from around the world. (See Getting Funded.) Please note, however, that GCEP does not accept unsolicited research proposals from external institutions, businesses, or individuals.
Who will hold title to new technologies brought to market through this initiative?
Communications from GCEP
Stanford (or the external institution performing the research) holds formal legal title to all technology and information derived from this program and also holds formal legal title to all patents sought. GCEP sponsors receive a royalty-free license to patents that arise from research funded by the Project. Stanford or any of the sponsors can license the technology to any other entity that wants to use it. For more information, see Patents.
Is there regular public communication on the status of the research?
Yes. Stanford and the sponsoring companies are committed to publicizing the research results in many venues and promoting discussion of the ideas that result from GCEP. Since a goal of the Project is to promote the exchange of ideas, comprehensive scientific reports describing GCEP research are currently available to the public on the Project's website (see Technical Reports). Results of the research also are published in science and engineering journals (see Publications) and presented at meetings (see Presentations).
GCEP regularly conducts symposia, workshops, seminars, and other outreach activities to present results and information from both within and outside the Project to members of the academic, scientific, and engineering communities, and others, as appropriate. For more information, please see Events and News.
Does GCEP comment or take positions on policy issues involving climate and energy?
Participation in GCEP
No. GCEP is focused solely on science and technology research to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy use.
How can I submit a research proposal to GCEP?
GCEP issues requests for pre-proposals in selected topic areas on its web site several times a year. Researchers at eligible institutions are encouraged to respond. The Project does not accept unsolicited proposals but is open to receiving non-proprietary information about related research at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will the Project collaborate with private businesses?
GCEP focuses on the fundamental, pre-commercial side of energy research. We do not fund work at private companies interested in commercializing energy technologies. If you would like to share your related work with GCEP, please send only non-proprietary information to email@example.com.
What role will government have in the Project?
While we will not seek government funding for GCEP, we look to share our expertise and knowledge with related government research programs and to collaborate informally as appropriate. We also regularly invite researchers from government labs to participate in our events.
How do I pursue a degree related to GCEP at Stanford University?
GCEP is a sponsored research effort, not a degree-granting program within the university. Many graduate students and postdocs are supported by GCEP through faculty-led research projects in a number of departments across the university. Prospective students should apply to one of those departments. Please see Contact Information for Students.
How can I let GCEP know that I am working on a related research project?
The Project would like to learn about other low greenhouse gas research being conducted by research institutions around the world and welcomes non-proprietary information and updates at firstname.lastname@example.org.