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Princeton launches clean energy research consortium with Google, GE, and ClearPath

Princeton University’s ZERO lab has launched a new consortium that brings researchers together with several major corporations to research and develop scalable clean energy technologies. The consortium, an offshoot of the corporate membership program Princeton E-ffiliates Partnership, includes founding members Google, GE and ClearPath.

Jesse Jenkins, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the ZERO lab’s principal investigator, helped design and launch the new consortium with the goal of helping organizations adopt low-carbon technologies while making those innovations more commercially viable and quicker to be deployed.

“We want to provide practical insights and roadmaps that can support decision-making, guide investment and accelerate innovation,” Jenkins said. 

Along with research, the consortium gives these big corporations that seek to adapt to a clean energy future a forum to connect to connect. And the initial members had plenty of good reasons to join, Google was the first global corporation to pledge to match the energy demand from its data centers and offices around the world with local carbon-free power on an hour-by-hour basis, referred to as 24/7 carbon-free electricity procurement. GE is an equipment manufacturer with a broad portfolio of energy technologies, including on and offshore wind turbines, gas turbines and advanced nuclear power – which combined help generate one-third of the world’s electricity. The company is also developing hydrogen-fueled gas turbines, carbon capture solutions, offshore wind superconducting generators and nuclear energy systems with small modular reactors. ClearPath is a non-profit policy think tank based in Washington, DC, that both advocates for clean energy policy and collaborates with public and private entities to advance clean energy technology adoption.

According to Jenkins, the consortium will support two research areas in his group – developing models and methods to help inform decision-making and evaluating technologies for economic, environmental and other impacts. ZERO Lab researchers are also conducting ongoing research on long-duration energy storage, flexible geothermal energy systems, carbon capture and sequestration, and commercial fusion power plants.

The group hopes to pool funding in a flexible structure that allows researchers to quickly pivot to tackle the most critical research questions without having to wait for specific funding cycles or approvals from grant-making agencies. Jenkins hopes to recruit other members to round out the group, such as a private venture capital group focused on clean energy or the investment arm of a utility.

In addition to participating in the consortium, GE, Google and ClearPath have also joined  the Princeton E-ffiliates Partnership, a corporate membership program. The program allows member organizations to build collaborations with faculty members across a range of topics, including optimizing power architecture in data centers, securing the power grid, and transforming waste streams into carbon-rich resources.

“The consortium provides an exemplar of the value of collaboration between our E-ffiliates members to maximize the impact of Andlinger Center research. The different perspectives that these consortium members offer improves the quality of the research and enhances the impact of the research for their individual organizations and for the broader national decarbonization effort,” said Chris Greig, acting associate director for external partnerships at the Andlinger Center.

Source: Princeton University

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