MIT's annual student-run Energy Conference, now in its fourth year, continues to grow and has added some new features this year. The conference itself, being held this Saturday, is already sold out, but two topical workshops on Friday afternoon, and a showcase exhibit Friday evening, are free and still open to the public.
The theme of this year's conference is "Accelerating Change in Global Energy." The daylong event begins with a talk by MIT President Susan Hockfield, followed by a keynote talk by Lars Josefsson, the president and CEO of Sweden-based energy group Vattenfall. U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), who chairs the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition in the House of Representatives, will deliver a keynote address.
As always, the conference, which is co-organized by the MIT Energy Club and the MIT Sloan School of Management's Energy & Environment Club, features a wide range of leading experts from both industry and academia. For much of the day the discussions will break into two tracks, with panels on bioenergy, wind power, energy storage, baseload power, emerging economies, demand management, and transportation. A final panel, moderated by MIT Energy Initiative Director Ernest J. Moniz, will summarize the conference's theme.
Friday afternoon's sessions are a new addition to the conference agenda this year, and organizers describe them as "a unique opportunity for a more in-depth discussion around select topics." They consist of four separate workshops focused on specific energy topics. Two of them, on wind energy and on capturing carbon dioxide out of the air, are already closed, but two other sessions, on "Nuclear Power: New Markets and New Opportunities," and "The Smart Grid: Opportunities and Challenges," are still open. The workshops run from 1 to 5 p.m.
Finally, the Friday evening Energy Showcase, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Kendall Square Marriott, will feature more than 60 posters about academic research projects on energy, as well as displays from at least 30 energy companies, many of them spinoffs from MIT research, and a variety of interactive exhibits. The free showcase is designed as an informal event, with live music, cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, to encourage mingling and networking among the participants.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 4, 2009 (download PDF).