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What is the Strategic Energy Alliance?

The alliance is a new academic-private sector program to accelerate the transformation of the world’s energy infrastructure to make it more sustainable, affordable and secure – and to extend modern energy services to developing economies.

Who manages the alliance?

Stanford oversees the Strategic Energy Alliance, and its day-to-day operations are run by the Precourt Institute for Energy, which is overseen by Stanford’s Office of the Dean of Research.  Precourt staff members coordinate the research efforts of the alliance, and facilitate collaboration among alliance members and Stanford faculty members.

What is the goal of this program?

The Strategic Energy Alliance seeks to accelerate a major transformation in the way that energy is sourced, distributed and used. Across the spectrum of energy topics from engineering to economics, the alliance provides Stanford faculty and industry members who share common research objectives the opportunity to work together. The alliance also supports some early-stage research collectively funded by all alliance members at the direction of its faculty leadership.

Who are the members?

Founding members include ExxonMobil and Bank of America (both joined in March 2018), Total (joined May 2018) and Shell (joined August 2019).

Why is this collaboration needed?

The alliance works closely with companies that have a long-term strategic energy outlook, helping Stanford faculty identify the avenues most likely to benefit society in a big way. As there is no silver bullet for energy, the world needs a portfolio of solutions designed to progress from laboratories to large-scale use. Industry researchers and executives can provide university researchers with insights on these pathways, which are very complex in the enormous, fast-changing sector.

How are research projects selected?

Most of the Strategic Energy Alliance’s research are projects based on mutual interests between a member and one or more Stanford faculty members. In addition, a significant portion of each member’s contributions is pooled to fund early research into new ideas with potentially far-reaching impact.

How may Stanford faculty and students benefit from this program?

Stanford professors and their students with energy research interests from science and engineering to policy and business may receive research support from this program. All will gain a real-world perspective on the importance and difficulties of solving problems at scale.

Who owns the research? 

As with all research at Stanford, results of the Strategic Energy Alliance’s efforts will be published and the university will retain ownership of any resulting intellectual property.

How does Stanford ensure the independence of the alliance’s research?

All research programs are governed by Stanford's strict and long-standing guidelines ensuring that all research is open and independent. Research results arising from the alliance will be published in peer-reviewed journals.

How is the alliance related to the Global Climate and Energy Project?

The Strategic Energy Alliance builds on the success of Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP), which wrapped up in August 2019. Some 15 years ago, GCEP sparked a resurgence in low-carbon energy research. The program, sponsors of which also included ExxonMobil and Bank of America, awarded more than $200 million for 100 major research projects at 46 research institutions around the world. Its researchers discovered the science and invented technologies to advance solar power, batteries, hydrogen production, biofuels and electricity-free cooling. More important, scientists in GCEP and beyond learned which avenues hold the most promise.