UT Energy Week 2017
February 7, 2017 – February 10, 2017
More than 1,000 people attended UT Energy Week 2017, an annual gathering of experts from academia, industry, government, regulatory agencies and nonprofit organizations, to discuss and debate topical energy issues and recent research findings.
The conference, now in its third year, is hosted by the Energy Institute, the KBH Center for Energy, Law & Business, and two student-run organizations – the Longhorn Energy Club and the Texas Journal of Oil, Gas, and Energy Law (TJOGEL) – along with support from schools and colleges across the UT Austin campus engaged in energy-related research.
An attentive mix of students, faculty, government and regulatory officials and energy professionals attended the event, held February 7-10, 2017, on the UT Austin campus. UT Energy Week is free for students, faculty members and staffers at UT Austin and other universities.
In addition to providing a platform for experts to explore vital energy issues, the conference provides a forum for faculty members and student researchers to showcase their work, said Thomas F. Edgar, director of the Energy Institute.
“One of the remarkable things about the world of energy is that it is constantly evolving, and we’ve tried to reflect that in the composition of this conference,” Edgar said.
“The program we put together examined a range of topical energy issues that were of interest to a wide audience,” he added.
Robert Armstrong, director of MIT’s Energy Initiative, delivered the opening keynote address, Technology Pathways to a Low Carbon Future.
The production of domestic shale gas has been responsible for a significant reduction in carbon dioxide, Armstrong noted. While a dramatic decrease in the use of coal for electricity generation, along with “remarkable” growth in wind and solar energy, much work remains in the transition to a sustainable energy future, he said.
Society is capable of addressing “the grand challenge” of supplying more energy to the world while “figuring out how to de-carbonize the energy we use,” he concluded, adding that achieving that goal will require an unprecedented level of cooperation “across the academic spectrum” in partnership with industrial partners.
Topics examined during UT Energy Week 2017 included:
- Entrepreneurship in oil and gas
- Energy companies of the future
- President Donald Trump’s views on energy policy
- The evolving utility/consumer relationship
- Integrating renewable energy into the electric grid
- Advances in smart building technologies
UT Energy Week 2017 also featured two competitions organized by the Longhorn Energy Club – a startup competition that awarded cash and prizes for winning entrants, and a poster contest for students to showcase their energy research projects.
“UT Energy Week is a great opportunity for students to interact with prominent energy experts,” said Hector Arreola, president of the Longhorn Energy Club. “It’s also a chance for them to gain valuable feedback on their energy research.”
On Friday, February 10, the KBH Center held its second annual symposium, The Future of the Oil and Gas Industry: Peak Oil or Peak Demand – What’s the Horizon? The featured a keynote address by Jack N. Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute.
On Thursday and Friday, TJOGEL hosted its 12th annual symposium of continuing education courses on a wide range of topics, including an outlook for environmental policy, how complex oil and gas cases are handled in South Texas, and the evolving law of oil and gas leases.
In addition to the main UT Energy Week sessions, conference planners also offered several affiliated events, including tours of the campus’s celebrated power plant system and micro-grid, and research facilities within the School of Architecture and the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering.