Stanford Law School
Stanford University Eric Chan

As the United States gears up aggressively to take a lead in the race for clean energy and renewables, two of the country's premier educational institutions, the Stanford Law School and the Graduate School of Business have come together to drive the energy revolution forward through the establishment of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance - an interdisciplinary center to study and advance the development and deployment of clean energy technologies through innovative policy and finance.

The Center, which has been made possible through a generous $7 million gift from two Stanford alumni - Thomas Steyer and his wife, Kat Taylor - will have Dan Reicher at the helm as Executive Director. Reicher is professor of the practice of law at the Law School and lecturer at the Graduate School of Business and has been the director of climate change and energy initiatives at Google; he was also assistant secretary of energy for energy efficiency and renewable energy during the Clinton administration and is a member of President Obama's transition team.

Stanford University's comprehensive efforts towards making a positive contribution in tackling the global energy crisis have a rich history. This encompasses the earlier establishment of several institutes of research - the Precourt Institute for Energy; the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy (also funded by donations from Steyer and Taylor); the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies' Program on Energy and Sustainable Development; and the Stanford Environmental and Energy Policy Analysis Center. The Steyer-Taylor Centre is expected to complement the work done at these Institutes as it charts a course for development, financing, management and regulation of the clean energy technology sector.

Energy and climate change constitute one of the biggest challenges before the developed nations today. A recent report from the PCAST Energy Technology Innovation System Working Group - a group of presidentially appointed experts from academia, non-governmental organizations, and industry - have identified the development of clean, secure, safe, and affordable sources of energy as not only one of the most important challenges facing the United States but also critical to solving a host of other challenges in the years ahead.

In an address to the National Press Club, Nobel Prize winning physicist and US Energy Secretary Steven Chu alarmed many by referring to a 'sputnik' moment in energy for the US - indicating clearly the competitive advantage being wrested by nations such as China, Japan and Germany. Ramping up research and fuelling innovation by combining the best of various disciplines, therefore, seems to be key to US competitiveness, which is where Stanford is uniquely positioned to make a positive difference.

The collaboration between the Graduate Law School and the School of Business will enable the best combination of policy and business expertise to help resolve the challenge of financing clean technologies from conception to market; it will also pave the way for educating future leaders of managed organizations to incorporate sustainability in operations and domain strategy. Through broad-based research focusing in particular on legislative, regulatory and business tools, it is expected to facilitate the flow of capital to clean energy technologies by channelizing greater public support. The Center thus aims to produce world-class research for policy makers, the business community, and technology leaders to help inform and resolve energy problems at the global, national, state and local levels.