Birth of a new discipline, needed to address climate change

Stanford University announced, in a webinar hosted on September 28th, 2020 their intent to form a new interdisciplinary academic area called Macro Energy Systems.

The aim of Macro-Energy Systems is to understand the dynamics, benefits, costs, and impacts of large-scale energy systems and energy system transitions. It focuses on phenomena that are large when measured by time span, spatial scale, energy flow, or any combination of the above. Co-analysis of economic, engineering, environmental, and social factors is often critical for answering societal-scale questions. As a result, this discipline combines methods from many fields spanning the natural, social, and engineering sciences.

Humanity is faced with the need for two massive, interrelated energy transitions, and there is considerable uncertainty about the best way to undertake them. A transition to low- and no-carbon energy technologies underpins all realistic climate solutions. Simultaneously, the reach of modern energy services must grow substantially to reach more than a billion people who currently do not have access.

Solving these intertwined challenges will require changes of an unprecedented scale occurring over multiple decades, and a substantial number of researchers are working to understand and advise these transitions. Stanford believes that these efforts could be aided by cultivating a community of scholars—a new discipline—that focuses on the large-scale, systems-level, long-term aspects of sustainable energy planning and has decided to call this discipline “macro-energy systems.”

Read more about Macro Energy Systems in Joule: “Macro-Energy Systems: Toward a New Discipline” and find the video of the online webinar discussing the rational for this new discipline at Stanford’s Energy Seminar site.