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Meeting Our Energy Security Needs

Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.
President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Opening of Center for Future Energy Systems at Rensselaer
Heffner Alumni House — Great Room
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

This morning we announce the grand opening of the newest Center for Advanced Technology funded by the New York State Office of Science, Technology, and Academic Research (NYSTAR).

Research enabled by the Center for Future Energy Systems (CFES) will lead to significant advances in energy technologies.

Before we explore its mission, let us examine its context.

The industrialized world was built on plentiful and inexpensive energy. As global trends enable nations to develop and to begin resolving embedded challenges, such as safe drinking water, sanitation, adequate food production, education, health care, and opportunities for work, the demand for energy is burgeoning exponentially.

On a global scale, the availability of abundant, inexpensive energy is directly related to security — global security, and, therefore, our national security.

The need for an adequate supply of reasonably priced, sustainable energy is the overarching issue of the 21st century. We must find technologies which will both conserve energy use and expand sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel.

Because energy security is so crucial to our national economy and to global security, it assumes an urgency equal to, if not surpassing, concern over the launch of Sputnik in 1957 by the former Soviet Union. That event galvanized our nation to invest in research and in the education of young people in mathematics and science. The result has been nearly 50 years of spectacular innovation — innovation which benefited the U.S. economy and way of life, as well as millions of people around the globe, through enhanced food production, greatly enhanced health and medical breakthroughs, pervasive communications, and much more.

This is a similar moment in time, and Energy Security is today's Sputnik. We cannot drill our way to energy security. We must innovate our way to energy security — innovate in extractive technologies for fossil fuels, innovate in environmental protection, innovate in energy conservation, and innovate in the development of fossil fuel alternatives.

Which is why the research taking place at the Center for Future Energy Systems and Rensselaer is so vital. And, which is why the commitment of NYSTAR to energy security is so important.

I want to thank Governor George E. Pataki, the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, the New York State Senate, and the Assembly, for their vision and for their long-range commitment to meeting — head-on — the need for energy security research, and for the economic development which will accrue to the State of New York, as a result.

The Center for Future Energy Systems builds on Rensselaer research strengths in both development of sustainable alternative fuels, and in conservation. Around the room you will see displayed aspects of this research. Rensselaer researchers, along with researchers at Cornell and Brookhaven National Laboratories, are working on alternative fuel technologies including fuel cells and hydrogen, solar cells, crystal growth and micro/nanoelectronics. In conservation, researchers are examining a variety of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), smart lighting, smart displays, and traffic management technologies.

The Center for Future Energy Systems also builds on Rensselaer strengths in entrepreneurship, and is designed to include corporate partners in technology transfer from the research lab to the marketplace, spurring economic development in the region.

The Center for Future Energy Systems, one of 15 Centers for Advanced Technology (CATs) across New York State, will play a defining role in helping New York State to meet its goal of supplying more than 25 percent of the state's energy needs through renewable energy sources by 2012.

Source citations are available from the division of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Statistical data contained herein were factually accurate at the time it was delivered. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute assumes no duty to change it to reflect new developments.

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