Stanford University has pledged $100 million for the development of a research institute to allow for the study of energy issues. Entitled the Precourt Institute for Energy, the new facility and the funding will enable the hiring of additional faculty and support new graduate students. This funding, which is in addition to the over $30 million being spent annually on energy research, will allow for studies such as researching ways of reducing the levels of carbon in the atmosphere.
The majority of the funds were donated by founding donors and Stanford alumni Jay Precourt, an energy executive, and husband-and-wife team Thomas Steyer and Kat Taylor. Mr. Steyer is a Stanford trustee and managing partner of Farallon Capital Management, while his wife participates in a variety of philanthropic ventures.
“Universities such as Stanford need to focus their full talent on the greatest challenges facing the world today,” said John Hennessy, President of the University. “Energy is certainly one of those issues, posing a threat to our economy, to national security and, through the use of fossil fuels, to our environment. Addressing the challenge of energy will require research on a wide range of issues, from energy efficiency to development and deployment of renewable sources, to reducing the effect of fossil fuels.”
“The biggest renewable resource is the sun,” said Lynn Orr, Director of the new institute, which will function as an independent laboratory reporting to the dean of research. “But we need to lower the cost of converting sunlight into electricity and supplying it through a much improved electric grid. The new center will allow us to expand significantly our effort to develop new nanostructured materials for solar energy and energy storage and to work on the host of social, market and policy issues involved in the needed transition to energy systems with significant fractions of renewables.”
John Hennessy, left, and Lynn Orr at the announcement.