Experts and students convene at Energy Forum to talk about energy


Gabriella Belzer

Wei Ren explains his energy saver experiment to Travis Wilson at the UT Energy Saver Forum at the Texas Union. The forum brought together scientists who have been developing ways to save energy.

Amanda O’Donnell

The two-day UT Energy Forum, a conference addressing energy issues and discussing improvement of the energy market, began Thursday morning in the Texas Union. 

This is the UT Energy Forum’s third year. The mission of the conference is to provide a platform for experts from industry, academia and government to discuss the future of the energy industry. Through workshops and panels focusing on energy policy and energy technology research, the Energy Forum aims to develop environmentally sustainable solutions to global warming and its effects. 

The Energy Forum is hosted by McCombs CleanTech Group, an organization that works to promote a future economy that is energy efficient and sustainable.

Arpit Desai, CleanTech member and business administration graduate student, said he appreciates the mix of attendees attracted by the forum.

“You have people who are in all different aspects of energy,” Desai said. “This forum is a good way of keeping discussion going between those groups. The experts that attend bring their knowledge, and the students bring innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit.” 

Thursday’s schedule included six workshops covering subjects like the promotion of economic development in Central Texas through clean energy practice and the legal and technical obstacles expected in the energy industry in 2013. 

A workshop titled “Influencing and Measuring an Individual’s Impact on Energy Use” discussed ways faculty and students can help meet goals set by the President’s Sustainability Steering Committee to reduce energy and water consumption. The workshop was led by the UT Energy Stewardship Program, an organization that works to promote conservation on campus.

“There are a lot of energy initiatives just here at UT,” business administration graduate student Jacob Lohman said. “This gives us an opportunity to showcase what’s already going on and recruit individuals who can get something new started.”

Thursday’s keynote speaker David G. Victor, an international relations and pacific studies professor at the University of California San Diego, discussed the energy industry’s current concerns and ways government and policy can make change possible. 

“Past treaties have yielded 0 percent impact,” Victor said. “These are faux treaties, treaties designed to produce a high level of compliance that accordingly have little to no effect. We need to offset climate change, and the current policy won’t do that.”

Victor works with the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation, exploring which international laws work and why. He founded a research program at Stanford University which focuses on the energy markets of emerging countries. 

“What everyone wants to know is how long,” Victor said. “How long will it take to make this transformation in our energy system? If we work, and really work, we can make a major impact within 50 years.”

Published on February 22, 2013 as "Forum talks key energy issues".