LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 27, 2016) — Last week, the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) hosted a Regional Energy Innovation Forum, featuring U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. The purpose of the forum was to explore the ways universities, industries, Department of Energy’s (DOE) national labs and other institutions can take full advantage of emerging energy technologies to drive regional economic development.
Marking a rare visit to campus by a U.S. cabinet secretary, Moniz, along with other leaders from state and local governments, DOE, industry, academia and non-governmental organizations, discussed paths forward to accelerate innovation and create regional partnerships to meet energy needs now and in the future.
“Innovation is at the core of what we need to do to continue productivity growth in this country to pursue our so-called ‘all of the above’ energy strategy,” Moniz said during his keynote remarks. “We are looking to link this to investable opportunities to scale the innovation system and scale the clean energy future. We all understand that coal country, coal supply chain, is under considerable stress and that’s where we think the innovation agenda is going to be absolutely central to hopefully alleviating that stress and contributing to the kind of clean energy feature that we want. So coming here, not simply to Kentucky, but coming to a university that’s so central to that coal innovation agenda, obviously makes a lot of sense.”
The forum featured multiple panels on innovation, job creation and the overall economic impacts of coal utilization. The panelists included top coal utilization experts from around the country.
“As we all know energy utilization is an issue that does not have simple answers and it will take all of us working together to develop the energy answers of tomorrow,” said UK President Eli Capilouto in his opening remarks. “As academics, we embrace these complex problems, we make them our own. And we in higher education, if we do our jobs correctly, bring together stakeholders to not only engage in a dialogue, but to partner to provide sustainable solutions.”
A central theme of the meeting was the need to develop an energy innovation platform that utilizes the resources and technology specific to differing regions and resources around the country, rather than trying to develop national solutions to a complex problem.
“We have consistently advocated for a regional approach as key to meeting current and future energy needs,” said Rodney Andrews, director of CAER. “Bringing together industry leaders, scientists, government leaders and other thought leaders to spark a dialogue about Appalachian and Illinois Basin areas offers a path to continued innovation to utilize all of our energy resources. It is a path on which UK and CAER will be an active leader and partner.”
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