UT Energy Week Examines Vital Energy Issues

UT Energy Week

AUSTIN, Texas — Experts from academia, industry, media and non-profit organizations will gather on The University of Texas at Austin campus Monday to kick off a weeklong conference featuring panels, public forums on energy and student competitions offering more than $100,000 in prizes.

UT Energy Week is co-hosted by the Energy Institute and student-run Longhorn Energy Club, with the participation of schools and colleges engaged in energy research across the UT Austin campus.

Experts will examine new research findings, explore emerging trends, and discuss the latest advances in energy technologies. Panel topics include drilling in the Arctic and other frontier environments, the role of natural gas in a lower-carbon future, green building design and construction, and the impact of disruptive technologies such as distributed generation on an evolving electric utility business model.

The program includes several prominent speakers, including Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Christi Craddick and Doyle Beneby, president and CEO of San Antonio's CPS Energy. Renowned UT Engineering Professor John Goodenough, widely credited as the principal inventor of the lithium-ion battery that powers cell phones, laptops and many other electronic devices, also will discuss his ongoing research into large-scale energy storage.

UT Energy Week also includes a full slate of evening events that are free and open to the public, including a town hall meeting on the impact of hydraulic fracturing on oil and natural gas extraction and a tour of UT Austin's state-of-the art power plant and microgrid, the largest in the U.S.

View the full UT Energy Week program and register here.

Dr. Thomas F. Edgar, director of the university's Energy Institute, said the conference aims to showcase "the tremendous depth of expertise and world-class interdisciplinary energy research" at UT Austin.

"The program we've assembled illustrates the exemplary work of university faculty and researchers across a broad spectrum of energy issues," Edgar said, noting that UT Austin annually attracts $70 million or more in funding for energy-related research.

"We're known for our oil and gas research," Edgar added. "But we do it all."

Margaret Cook, a graduate student in Civil Engineering and president of the Longhorn Energy Club, said student involvement in planning UT Energy Week has allowed them to collaborate closely with faculty working in a variety of disciplines.

"This has been a great opportunity for students to engage with industry and other energy experts," Cook said. "It's exciting to be a part of such a robust debate on issues that really matter to society."

The Longhorn Energy Club has organized two competitions that will be judged during UT Energy Week a student research poster contest and an Energy Technology Competition for startups that will award $100,000 in prizes.

Highlights from the UT Energy Week program include:

  • Monday: "Back to the Future?" explores the role of oil and gas in a changing marketplace, with panels on energy economics and Arctic / frontier drilling.
  • Tuesday: "Building Bridges to a Sustainable World," explores the future of natural gas and nuclear energy, sustainable energy policy, and the nexus of energy, food and water.
  • Wednesday: "Empowering Consumers, Reinventing Infrastructure," showcases the impact of microgrids, energy storage, and other disruptive technologies.
  • Thursday: "Regulation, Decentralization, Integration," looks at the rapidly evolving electric utility model in the context of climate change and new technologies.
  • Friday: "Geopolitics of Oil and Gas in the Americas," features the inaugural symposium of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law and Business and includes a panel on Mexican energy reform.

Most events during the weeklong conference will be held at the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center. Some evening events will be held in alternate venues. Check the program for a complete list of locations.