Noyce Conference Room
  US Mountain Time

This event is private.

Abstract. The electric power sector in North America has gone through a significant transition roughly once per decade over the last forty years. It is currently in the midst of a transition that may turn out to be the most tumultuous of all, being driven not only by environmental concerns but by technological innovation and investor risk perceptions that threatens to upend business models, legacy infrastructure and the social role of electricity itself. The level of innovation in the electricity sector, building on investments in smart grid architectures, is higher now than in many decades and innovation has begun to spread globally. There is much basic knowledge, however, needed in order to facilitate the industry’s transition in a way that is sustainable, in terms of reliable performance, environmental impact, and realistic business models. The nature of the socio-technical complexity of how such a ubiquitous and fundamental industry innovates and transitions to entirely new technologies and architectures has been surprisingly under-studied. This may stem from the rather limited degree of change, since the onset of industrialization, in the energy supply infrastructure and the dominant primary energy sources. Even less apparent is the role of science (beyond basic technology research) in facilitating this transition and informing policy decisions. To address fundamental questions surrounding the scientific and public policy needs for innovation and transition in global electric power production and delivery, we propose a workshop that will convene a diverse group of experts in electric power system economics, engineering and policy; as well as scientists studying the nature of technological and industrial change. In addition, we will seek to invite some industrial historians and technologists from other industries (e.g. telecommunications) who can speak to the nature of these types of major transitions, past and present.

SFI Host: 
Seth Blumsack, Cris Moore, and Jessika Trancik