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Former U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered a keynote address at the 2013 Kellogg Energy Conference.

Former U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered a keynote address at the 2013 Kellogg Energy Conference.

2013 Kellogg Energy Conference

Speakers underscore importance of solving energy crisis from both the human standpoint and the business perspective

By Daniel P. Smith

2/21/2013 - Act now or pay later.

That was the frank message at the center of the inaugural Kellogg Energy Conference, which gathered more than 200 energy leaders, industry professionals, Kellogg students and alumni at the James L. Allen Center on Feb. 13.
 

The Kellogg community’s expanding interest in energy

  • $2 million raised by student-run energy startups in 2012
  • 37 energy-related career, education and networking events during the 2011-12 academic year
  • 600 students attending a Kellogg Energy Club event in the past two years
  • 400 percent increase in admitted Kellogg applicants listing an interest in energy on their applications from the class of 2013 to 2014
  • 108 percent increase in Kellogg applications for energy courses

   


With energy increasingly at the forefront of political and business dialogue, conference leaders looked to provide insights that would help attendees better understand how the changing energy landscape will affect business decisions.

“Industries are adapting based on energy needs … [and] energy is affecting the long-term strategy of companies, especially for energy-intensive companies,” conference marketing chair Rita Rodriguez ’13 said.

The importance of action
Susan Tierney, managing principal at the Analysis Group and former assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Energy, opened the event with a sobering presentation. Using detailed maps, she outlined the challenges facing the United States’ energy landscape, including varied population densities, utility service territories and retail electricity prices.

For all of the challenges, however, Tierney maintains hope that energy solutions are within reach as long as innovation becomes a higher priority in the private, public and academic worlds. Potential solutions, she said, would include:
  • Off shore and on-shore wind
  • Solar power
  • Nuclear
  • Biofuels
  • Carbon capture
  • Combined heat and power
  • Grid integration/connections
  • Storage technologies
“If we take a lackluster approach now, we will never reach our energy reduction goals … and deeper, more costly measures will be required in the future,” Tierney warned.

Environmental solutions, business success
Former U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson offered a keynote address echoing President Obama’s calls for the nation to make confronting climate change a priority.

“For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we have to do something we have not done: find a means to address climate change,” said Bryson, who is currently the distinguished public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars.

Rejecting the notion that wealthy countries alone must fund climate change interventions, Bryson pointed to India, where a groundswell of momentum is building, particularly among young entrepreneurs, that the emerging nation can be an active player in tackling the global climate crisis.

“What will work in India … is bringing talent together in a collaborative environment,” said Bryson, later comparing India’s upstart entrepreneurial culture to that of Silicon Valley.

Event co-chair Samir Mayekar ’13 said the half-day conference highlighted the important role energy plays in business success.

“Whereas succeeding as a business before may have meant creating new streams of revenue or selling more products, energy is now — more than ever — a part of the equation for business leaders,” Mayekar said.