On March 4-5, MIT will host the annual student-led MIT Energy Conference, with an opening keynote address by U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. As a former MIT physics professor and department head, and founding director of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), Moniz cultivated a strong relationship with the MIT Energy Club as the club was in its infancy, support that former club co-president Sam Telleen credited as one of the major reasons the club has succeeded. And this success has been significant. Today, the MIT Energy Conference, which emerged from the Energy Club, has grown into the largest student-led energy conference in the country, attracting high-level speakers and attendees in the energy industry every year.
Secretary Moniz’s presence makes this year’s conference particularly special. Not only has he already made impressive achievements as Secretary of Energy, from his implementation of President Barack Obama’s national energy goals to his leading role in the 2015 nuclear negotiations with Iran and the Paris climate agreement, he also possesses an intimate knowledge of the history of energy research at MIT. And he knows first hand what a huge commitment it is to be a part of the MIT Energy Club and organize the annual Energy Conference: In a 2013 article, Lara Pierpoint PhD ’11, former co-president of the club, recalled how Moniz, then her PhD advisor, would joke that “I had two full-time jobs. One as Energy Club president, one as a graduate student.” Shortly after receiving her PhD, Pierpoint joined Moniz at the U.S. Department of Energy, where she now leads the Office of Energy Supply Security within the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis.
In his opening address, Moniz will touch on Mission Innovation, the international initiative announced at the Paris climate talks to dramatically accelerate public and private global clean energy innovation to address global climate change, provide affordable clean energy to consumers, including in the developing world, and create additional commercial opportunities in clean energy.
Moniz’s keynote promises to continue the Energy Conference’s tradition of being at the forefront of the most pressing current energy issues. This year’s theme, “Big Meets Small: A New Era Emerges” will explore the interconnection between energy activities, technologies, and geographies, and address the idea that small, distributed impacts can generate big solutions. Both days of the conference are packed with compelling talks and panels featuring some of today’s most influential energy leaders.
Speakers include: Jason Bordoff, founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University; Colleen Calhoun, senior executive director of energy ventures at GE; Aldo Flores-Quiroga, secretary general of the International Energy Forum; Christopher Frei, secretary general of the World Energy Council; Kandeh Yumkella, former United Nations undersecretary-general; and Maria Zuber, vice president of research at MIT and the E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics.
Conference managing director Onyeka Mary Obasi says, “We are thrilled to have such an exciting program for this year's Energy Conference. Not only will the sessions cover some of the most timely issues in renewable energy and global climate policy, the speakers — from Secretary Moniz to GE's Colleen Calhoun — are world leaders whose perspectives will be valuable for our global audience.”
Additional information and registration information is available on the MIT Energy Conference website.