Energy symposium

Arnulf Grubler, researcher at Yale University and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, talks about maximizing energy efficiency as a better alternative to renewable energy sources at an energy symposium in the O’Donnell Jr. Building on Monday evening 

Photo Credit: Jarrid Denman | Daily Texan Staff

Major cities should not rely on renewable sources of energy but should, instead, focus on maximizing energy efficiency, according to Arnulf Grubler, researcher at Yale University and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

In an energy symposium Monday, Grubler said renewable sources of energy are sufficient for rural areas because they require large amounts of open space to produce enough energy. Because of the limited space available in cities, however, renewables are not sufficient enough to prioritize.

“The largest improvements are when we change systems instead of individual components in systems,” Grubler said. “Locally generated renewables can, at best, provide 1 percent of the energy of cities. … Even if you were to use all the area of London, you could, at maximum, provide 15 percent of the energy used in London.”

Varun Rai, event organizer and assistant professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, said the complexity of cities causes their energy needs to be much more demanding.

“In the city, it’s not only that you’re running the building,” Rai said. “You’re also doing management and industrial processes, and that uses a lot of energy. It’s not that renewables cannot do the job; it’s that they can’t when confined. We need to focus on building efficiency. We have to think about things like public transport and urban forming.”

Grubler said there is great room for improvement in the development of systems that are more efficient, such as Vienna, Austria, which has a system with 50 percent efficiency.

Thomas Anderson, a first-year MBA student who attended the symposium, said he believes more should be done to encourage a focus on energy efficiency.

“People need to come up with more clever financial measures to push energy efficiency,” Anderson said.

Carson Stones, global policy studies graduate student and an organizer of the energy symposium, said he agrees with Grubler’s notion that focusing on efficiency in cities is the most important step forward in the urbanization of energy.

“It’s astounding how much more you can get from efficiency than anything else,” Stones said.

Greg Nemete, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin, speaks at the energy symposium hosted by the University of Texas Energy Institute on Thursday evening. Nemete’s presentation covered his research on alternative energy systems and the influences of energy policies on the public. 

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

Students can measure their energy use through technological tools.

That’s what Greg Nemet, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin in the La Follette School of Public Affairs and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, told students during an energy symposium Thursday in the Peter O’Donnell
Jr. Building.

Nemet, who studies models of alternative energy systems, explained how energy policies influence the lives of college students. His research shows students should be able to analyze their energy use with technological tools.

“Young people have more at stake on energy and climate issues than anyone else,” Nemet said. “My greatest source of optimism in addressing these profoundly difficult challenges is that we have lots of smart people setting out on careers and thinking about ways
to engage.”

The energy symposium discussed research methods that could explain the process of technological change in energy and its interaction with public policy. 

Nemet talked about the influences of past technological changes and the effects of energy policies on future technological outcomes. 

The talk was held by the UT Energy Institute, a body of scholars from multiple schools and research institutes within UT, whose members study a variety of energy issues. The Institute holds weekly energy symposiums with different speakers to introduce students and faculty to energy
policy questions.

Carson Stones, global policy studies graduate and teaching assistant for the symposium, explained how attendees benefit from the Institute’s events.

“Attendees can expect to get access to cutting-edge research, which is highly relevant to today’s most difficult energy questions,”
Stones said.

The Institute gives students the opportunity to broaden their educational experience by creating a community around energy issues of importance to the University. The talks are organized around four main pillars: policy, education, research and
commercialization.

International relations and global studies senior Alaina Heine said she attends the weekly events and explained how the insights of different speakers
influence students.

“Learning about a holistic look on energy, politics and economics gives a different view of every sector,” Heine said. “The level of speakers is incredible and allows students the opportunity to speak with graduate students with
different viewpoints.”