University Energy Institute Collaborative to Address Critical Infrastructure Issues

Author: Barbara Villarosa

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The Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame (ND Energy) proudly shares the following announcement of the University Energy Institute Collaborative (UEIC) of which it is a part. For more information about ND Energy and its UEIC affiliation, contact Peter C. Burns, director, and Ginger E. Sigmon, managing director. ND Energy is a University Center whose mission is to build a better world by creating new energy technologies and systems and educating individuals to help solve the most critical energy challenges facing the world today.

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More than 150 university-based energy institutes around the country have formed a first-of-its-kind partnership to address the critical challenges facing America’s energy systems. The University Energy Institute Collaborative (UEIC) creates a national network of energy researchers and experts who will provide both localized and global experience in energy infrastructure, policy and climate research. The Collaborative is also working together to align training and educational objectives to support students as they prepare to manage future energy systems.


In a joint leadership statement signed by 67 energy institutes and released on May 19, 2021, the group underscores that energy systems are intertwined with complex issues — including climate change and access to affordable energy — but ill-designed for effective operation in a world facing these pressures. The statement also recognizes the responsibility that American universities have in finding solutions to these problems, preparing students to be the future energy workforce, and creating a sustainable energy future.

“We have seen significant ground swell around this initiative, with many new scholarly and practical opportunities coming to light,” said Collaborative co-founder Jay Whitacre, director of the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University. “With the growing urgency of climate change and the critical importance of energy infrastructure, now is the time for researchers to come together in this way.”

A two-year Sloan Foundation grant is supporting the facilitation, operation, and convening of the Collaborative, and includes funding to spark and seed university-level projects within the group.

“Our hope over the next two years is to continue to gain momentum around the effort, connecting decision-makers within the Biden Administration, DOE, and industry directly with universities at a deeper level. We have yet to fully leverage the collective strength this network now holds,” according to Anna J. Siefken, Collaborative co-founder, who serves as executive director for the Collaborative as well as at Carnegie Mellon’s Scott Institute. “The partnership opportunities are infinite.”

The collaborative traces its origin to the September 2019 University Energy Institute Leadership Summit, which drew 101 leaders representing more than 67 academic energy institutes and centers from across the U.S. to Pittsburgh, PA. Co-hosted by CMU’s Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation and the Colorado School of Mines' Payne Institute for Public Policy, the summit was part of a research study to explore opportunities for collaboration among U.S. university energy institutes. The full report from that research effort is available at

“With the domestic and global focus on addressing climate change and just and equitable energy transitions, the time is ripe to make big changes in these socio-technical systems,” commented Morgan Bazilian, Collaborative co-founder and director of the Payne Institute for Public Policy at the Colorado School of Mines. “This university group is ideally placed to help support and guide such a generational set of changes.”

For more information about the University Energy Institute Collaborative, please visit the University Energy Institute Collaborative website at or contact Anna Siefken at

View the full joint leadership statement below or visit

Joint Leadership Statement

This article was co-authored by a dedicated committee including Elizabeth Wilson, Morgan Bazilian, Jay Whitacre, Ginger Sigmon, Valentini Pappa, Anna Goldstein, Daniel Kammen, Jeff Bielicki, Brian Murray, David Cole, Demetria Giannisis, Jeff Sammons, Steve Kalland, Ugar Pasaogullari, and other energy institute leaders. I thank them for their partnership.

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, the centrality and reliability of our nation’s energy systems have been underscored as critical to health care systems, food, goods and services as well as our interaction and work with colleagues, friends, and family.
But, this network of critical energy infrastructure is at risk.

From the fires that burned in 2020 in the West, to a record number of hurricanes brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, to the near permanent “flood levels” in many parts of the Upper Mississippi watershed, to the droughts in other parts of the nation—it is clear that our energy systems were not designed for effective operation in this emerging world. Responding to climate change will require a simultaneous reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to an increasingly unpredictable climate. Reliability issues, and questions of energy access, also underscore the extreme societal inequalities that must be integrated into future energy systems. Reliable, clean, and affordable energy is a technical, social, and economic need—our energy systems must be re-tooled to create equity and access for all, not just the affluent or geographically advantaged.

Adapting our energy systems to these concurrent challenges requires more than merely changing energy technologies or relying on private sector innovation and goodwill.

Addressing these interlinked challenges requires fundamental shifts in how we plan, build, and operate our energy infrastructure. It requires changes in our laws, policies, and institutions. And it necessitates that we equip and broaden the existing and future energy workforce to be diverse, inclusive, flexible and ready for an increasingly uncertain world.

This is what American colleges and universities do best—help society face new challenges, adapt to new situations, and create new opportunities.

In September 2019, more than 100 leaders from U.S.-based colleges and universities began formation of The University Energy Institute Collaborative at a Summit in Pittsburgh, PA. The network has grown to encompass over 150 energy institutes. As a collaborating energy and climate research community, we appreciate that the scale of any solution needs to match the scale of the problem—at the global, national, and local levels—and we are committed to ensuring our country has the energy system that we all need.

Our different geographies allow us to fully appreciate regional differences and complexities across the country’s energy systems, and the need for local implementation.

We are working together to support training, education, and research for the future energy systems. By engaging our network of energy experts around the world, and leveraging our collective strengths, we are working to provide both localized expertise and global experience.
Energy underpins our economy, our communities, and our collective futures. The world is changing and planning for that future is essential. As a collective body, we agree that we must act now and, therefore, commit ourselves and our respective institutions to work together toward creating a more sustainable energy future for all.

Energy Institute Signatories:

Appalachian State University, Appalachian Energy Center
Ball State University, Center for Energy Research/Education/Service (CERES)
Boise State University, CAES Energy Policy Institute
Boston University, Institute for Sustainable Energy
California Institute of Technology, Resnick Sustainability Institute
Carnegie Mellon University, Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation
Case Western Reserve University, Great Lakes Energy Institute
Colorado School of Mines, Payne Institute for Public Policy
Colorado State University, CSU Energy Institute
Columbia University, The Center on Global Energy Policy
Cornell University, Cornell Energy Systems Institute
Dartmouth University, The Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy & Society
Drexel University, former A.J. Drexel Institute for Energy and the Environment (IExE)
Duke University, Duke U Energy Initiative
East Carolina University, Center for sustainable energy and Environmental Engineering
George Mason University, George Mason Center for Energy Science and Policy (CESP)
George Washington University, GWU Environmental and Energy Management Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology, Strategic Energy Institute
Idaho State University, Energy Systems Technology and Education Center
Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Wanger Institute for Sustainable Energy Research (WISER)
Johns Hopkins University, Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP)
Lehigh University, Institute for Cyber Physical Infrastructure and Energy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT Energy Initiative
Missouri University of Science and Technology, Center for Research in Energy and the Environment
New York University, Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law
North Carolina A&T State University, Center for Energy Research and Technology (CERT)
North Carolina State University, NC Clean Energy Technology Center
North Carolina State University, FREEDM
Northeastern University, Center for Renewable Energy Technology (NUCRET)
Northwestern University, Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN)
Ohio State University, Sustainability Institute
Ohio University, Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment
Pennsylvania State University, Center for Energy Law and Policy
Pennsylvania State University, Institutes of Energy and Environment
Southern Methodist University, Maguire Energy Institute
Stanford University, Precourt Institute for Energy
State University of New York at Buffalo, The RENEW (Research and Education in eNergy, Environment & Water) Institute
Texas A&M University, Texas A&M Energy Institute
Texas Christian University, TCU Energy Institute
Texas Tech University, Texas Tech University Energy Institute
Tufts University, Climate Policy Lab
Tulane University, Tulane Energy Institute
Tulane University, Tulane Center for Energy Law
University of California Santa Barbara, Institute for Energy Efficiency
University of California, Berkeley, Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) Institute
University of California, San Diego, Center for Energy Research
University of Colorado Law School, Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment
University of Connecticut, Center for Clean Energy Engineering
University of Delaware, Delaware Energy Institute (DEI)
University of Houston, Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources (EENR) Center, University of Houston Law Center
University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Energy Institute of Louisiana
University of Maine, Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions
University of Maryland, Maryland Energy Innovation Institute
University of Massachusetts Amherst, Energy Transition Institute
University of Minnesota, Institute on the Environment
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research
University of Notre Dame, Center for Sustainable Energy (ND Energy)
University of Pennsylvania, Kleinman Center for Energy Policy
University of Pennsylvania, Vagelos Institute for Energy Science and Technology
University of Pittsburgh, Grid Institute
University of Pittsburgh, Center for Energy
University of Washington, Clean Energy Institute
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin Energy Institute
Vermont Law School, Institute for Energy and the Environment
Western Washington University, Institute for Energy Studies
Yale University, Yale Energy Sciences Institute


Originally published by Barbara Villarosa at on August 04, 2021.