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Stanford Report, December 4, 2002

Text of President John Hennessy's remarks at the announcement of the Global Climate and Energy Project

The following is the text of the remarks made by President John Hennessy at the press conference announcing the creation of the Global Climate and Energy Project (G-CEP), Nov. 20, 2002.

Welcome and thank you for coming. This is a very exciting day -- the beginning of what we believe is a revolutionary collaboration. I am delighted to see that so many of you could join us.

As the president of Stanford, it is my great pleasure to announce that the university will take on an important new initiative to address one of the most pressing issues we face today: the generation and consumption of energy in an environmentally benign fashion.

Members of the scientific and engineering community in both academia and private industry have recognized the need to chart a new path. With the support and participation of an international group of visionary companies -- ExxonMobil, General Electric and Schlumberger with us today, and with E.ON joining us at a later date -- Stanford University will launch a 10-year effort to discover new solutions for meeting the world's energy needs while dealing with the challenges of maintaining our environment.

The Global Climate and Energy Project (G-CEP) is an unprecedented collaboration among the world's most distinguished energy researchers and experts. The project's sponsors anticipate investing up to $225 million over the next decade exploring energy technologies for the future -- technologies that will be efficient, environmentally friendly and cost effective enough to be used widely.

Three things are required for the success of the G-CEP:

1. Creating a research environment that nurtures innovation.

2. Choosing the best people to attack these challenging problems.

3. Encouraging the industrial adoption of anticipated discoveries and solutions.

Stanford University understands what is needed to incubate new ideas. We have a long history of transferring research from the academy to the public arena, of converting new knowledge into potential solutions that will benefit the greater community. Here in Silicon Valley, innovators in industry and the university work side by side and see these partnerships as complementary to their respective missions.

Of course, every project's success begins with the excellence of its people. Stanford will provide project leadership, and many of our faculty and scholars will be involved in the research. But we will not be alone in our efforts. Energy and environmental problems affect us all, and we will be engaging leaders in the scientific community around the world to help in these efforts. These experts will come both from other academic institutions and from the public sector.

One of the most important lessons I have learned -- as a researcher, as the founder of a start-up and as president of Stanford -- is that the successful transfer of technology is as much about the people you transfer as it is about technology. The people who work on that technology and who understand it in a deep way are the best vehicles for transferring it. This is why we believe that a strong partnership with industry leaders is key to the success of this initiative.

There is no doubt that that the problems we face are extraordinarily complex -- in scope and in scale. No one university, no single company, not even a single country can solve them all. Expertise in many disciplines will be required to effect solutions. Note that I said "solutions." We do not believe there is one solution for the world's energy problems.

To develop future energy technologies, many different areas will be researched. Some that seem promising at the moment are: electric power generation with low greenhouse emissions; the production, distribution and use of hydrogen; the use of biomass fuels; carbon sequestration and other technologies that reduce carbon dioxide; advanced nuclear power technologies; and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.

In addition to being environmentally friendly, we recognize that solutions must meet the test of practicality and cost. If they are to be deployed globally, they must be readily accepted and implemented. One of our roles will be to identify and overcome any barriers to success -- from safety issues to regulation to the economics of implementation.

We also believe that the research activities pursued in this Center must range from basic to applied. Fundamental new knowledge will be needed to create a scientific platform for novel solutions. And, as is often the case, employing those new discoveries to create solutions will require that demanding challenges be overcome in an innovative fashion.

In addition to its long history of applied research and technology transfer, Stanford has shown a commitment to producing knowledge that serves the greater good. I believe that this project -- driven by researchers who believe that the search for knowledge is a noble pursuit, in and of itself -- is built on the right foundation.

In 1904, Jane Stanford, in speaking to the trustees, defined the challenge for this young university: "Let us not be afraid to outgrow old thoughts and ways, and dare to think on new lines." Over the past century, we have taken that to heart and understood that we cannot succeed in our mission by standing still. We must continue to move forward and boldly launch new efforts.

The Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) is one of these new efforts. It dares 'to think on new lines' and continues the pioneering tradition for which Stanford is known.

Although we are announcing the initiative today, many of the people here have been working with us to make this project a reality for some time. Certainly we would not have succeeded in reaching this point without the strong support of our outstanding faculty, many of whom are here today. I want to extend special thanks to Lynn Orr, who will serve as director of the Global Climate and Energy Project; Chris Edwards, who will be G-CEP's deputy director, and our global corporate sponsors, who are with us today: ExxonMobil, General Electric and Schlumberger. We look forward to working together on this project and to having E.ON join us in the future. Together we have crafted a bold vision that aims to find solutions for one of the most important problems we face on our planet.

And now, it is my pleasure to introduce Lynn Orr. Lynn, a professor of petroleum engineering, has been a member of the Stanford faculty since 1985. He has served as dean in the School of Earth Sciences for the past eight years and is stepping down at the end of this month to lead this new effort. I cannot imagine anyone better suited -- as a scholar or as a leader -- for this role. SR