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Stanford University to Lead Search for Solutions to Global Climate and Energy Needs

ExxonMobil, GE, Schlumberger, other private industry leaders to fund university's Global Climate and Energy Project

Stanford, California—Nov. 20, 2002—Stanford University today unveiled an unprecedented approach to addressing one of the world's most challenging energy and environmental issues.

John Hennessy Photo Stanford President John Hennessy announced a multi-million-dollar collaboration among leaders of the global scientific and engineering communities and major corporations, including ExxonMobil, General Electric and Schlumberger. Together, the participants will engage in research to develop technologies that foster the development of a global energy system where greenhouse emissions are much lower than today.

The Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) is an alliance of scientific researchers and leading companies in the private sector. Stanford University, as manager of the Project, will identify preeminent scientific researchers from around the world who will work with the private sector sponsors to conduct research into low greenhouse gas emission energy technologies of the future. Several private sector companies plan to invest up to $225 million over the next 10 years to the Project. To date, ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM), the world's largest publicly traded petroleum and petrochemical company, plans to invest up to $100 million; General Electric (NYSE: GE), the world leader in power generation technology and services, $50 million; and Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB), a global technology services company, $25 million to help fund the research. E.ON, Europe's largest privately owned energy service provider, has signaled its intention to contribute $50 million and join GCEP, along with other academic and corporate sponsors from Europe. The combined amount is equal to the total of all the corporate-sponsored research at Stanford over the past 10 years. The university expects to involve additional global companies in the automotive and technology industries as the research progresses.

Stanford engineers and scientists will conduct a significant portion of the research. However, in keeping with the global nature of energy research, the university will be joined by additional renowned institutions around the world to work with the private sector sponsoring companies in North America, Europe and Asia. GCEP will be different from other privately sponsored research initiatives, as scientists will have the intellectual freedom to explore a wide array of energy technologies and solutions.

"I think it works remarkably well for the kind of research that a university does," said Stanford President John Hennessy. "It's quite basic, it's multidisciplinary in nature, and it's long term. It's beyond what companies normally think of as their competitive horizon."

In keeping with the program's objectives to encourage broad application of the technologies that flow from the research, sponsoring companies will provide commercial insights and expertise to the research in addition to financial resources.

Lynn Orr, who will step down as the dean of Stanford's School of Earth Sciences to become the GCEP project director, said the initiative would educate talented people who can help shape the development of the world's new energy systems, and bring together representatives of academia, government and industry to create a research portfolio of energy systems that have low greenhouse gas emissions. "Supplying energy to a growing world population is a critical challenge for this century," Orr said, "and doing so with low greenhouse emissions will be an even greater challenge. The Global Climate and Energy Project is a long-term commitment to build and carry out a research portfolio that ultimately will stimulate the development of needed energy technologies of the future. Through this Project, we will harness the talent and creativity of the students and faculty of some of the world's great universities to facilitate the creation of energy systems essential to the well-being of the world's growing population."

Specifically, GCEP will work to:

  • Identify the most promising technologies for low emissions, high efficiency energy supply and identify barriers to the application of these new technologies on a global basis;
  • Conduct research into overcoming barriers to a wide range of promising existing and new technologies and to accelerate their commercial application globally;
  • Identify potential solutions to cost, performance, safety, regulatory, legal and consumer acceptance barriers to widespread adoption of next-generation energy technologies; and
  • Share and publicize research results to a wide audience, including academic and commercial research scientists, media, business, governments and potential end users.

Among the energy sources, systems and uses that will be considered are:

  • Advanced transportation systems
  • Electric power generation systems with lower greenhouse emissions
  • Production, distribution and use of hydrogen
  • Production, distribution and use of biomass fuels
  • Advanced nuclear power technologies
  • Renewable energy sources (wind and solar)
  • Carbon sequestration, capture and storage
  • Power storage and transmission
  • Advanced coal utilization
  • Combustion science and engineering
  • Geoengineering
  • Enabling infrastructure

Orr said that a key objective of this initiative is to develop a portfolio of energy technologies that can be deployed on a global scale, in developed and developing economies.

"Industry perspectives can illuminate the university research process in very important ways: posing questions, challenging researchers and helping the research groups understand current barriers to technology implementation. This Project will create a sustained university/industry collaboration on the technical issues of climate and energy that frames a long-term research agenda," Orr said.

Orr added that Stanford would hold formal legal title to all technology and information derived from this Project, as well as formal legal title to all patents sought. He said that it is one of the Project's fundamental tenets that the university make the results of the research widely available to the scientific and engineering community.

"It is the belief of both the university and our industrial partners that the research and any ensuing new technology be made widely available to scientists and engineers and could spur technological innovations not even contemplated by the parties to GCEP," Orr said.



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