Post-Carbon Life and Work

Carbon did more than just power the 20th century; it profoundly changed the nature of human life and work. Nor is carbon alone. Throughout history, communities and civilizations have reforged themselves around new forms of energy, think fire and animal husbandry, for example. In this amazing session, I talk with five globally influential creatives about how today’s cities might reforge themselves going forward around the energy sources of tomorrow.

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Inhabiting the Anthropocene

Last year, I had the pleasure of giving a talk in my good friend Suzanne Moon’s honors history class on the past and future of climate change. I talked about how we might leverage imagination and storytelling to inform efforts to design energy systems of the future.

Exploring Solar Energy Innovation Ecosystems

A few years ago, several of us were privileged to participate in an Innovation Lab sponsored by the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy that highlighted the critical importance of energy innovation ecosystems. Based on that idea, we’ve been working in Puerto Rico over the past few years to understand how we can leverage diverse facets of the solar energy innovation ecosystem to bring solar energy to low-income communities there. We’ve now published our first report on that topic: The Evolving Solar Energy Innovation Ecosystem in Puerto Rico.

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Eradicating Poverty through Energy Innovation

Several years ago, the center hosted a global conference for communities, advocacy organizations, and researchers organized around the idea that energy innovation could be leveraged to help eradicate extreme poverty. The basic idea was simple: it’s not enough just to build new energy technologies, we need to find ways to link the design of energy systems to the creation of social and economic value for low-income communities. Today, this idea finds its clearest expression in strategies for leveraging efforts to achieve SDG7 goals to drive progress on other key SDGs: eliminating poverty, improving health and equality, creating good jobs, etc.

You can find several videos from the conference here, including the welcome by center director Clark Miller and keynotes from Simon Trace, former head of Practical Action and now president of Oxford Policy Management, and Jim Rogers, former chairman and CEO of Duke Energy.

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Engaging @ENERGY

Joey Eschrich and Clark Miller had the opportunity today to discuss Cities of Light with the great team at the US Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technology Office.

The talk focused on the need to shift energy transition thinking toward people-centered modes of analysis and to develop new kinds of tools for visualizing and analyzing socio-energy systems and relationships.

User-Centered Solar Energy

A group of students from QESST and the Center for Energy & Society recently recorded a video for the IEEE SIGHT program to help humanitarian engineering students learn about how to approach energy from a user-centered perspective.

Solar Power as a Design Challenge

Clark Miller and Joey Eschrich, editors of Cities of Light, recently gave a talk at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts on one of the book’s central themes: the design challenge of deploying sufficient solar energy to achieve global carbon neutrality.

  • How do we put billions of solar panels down in the world?
  • How do we integrate them into the social, economic, infrastructural, and ecological landscapes of future societies?
  • What financial, labor, and cultural design options do we have for solar energy–and how does each distribute the benefits, costs, and risks of energy systems?
  • How do we imagine, ahead of time, what solar futures might look like and what it might be like for diverse groups of people to inhabit them?

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