“In order to be sustainable, energy has to be accessible, affordable and delivered in an environmentally responsible way. You can’t just do one of them; you have to do all three”, McConnell said.
McConnell is the Executive Director of the Energy and Environment Initiative at Rice University, a multidisciplinary effort to engage expertise from the industry, the government and Rice University to find better energy solutions for the future. McConnell is a 35-year veteran of the energy industry, and he joined Rice in August 2013 after serving two years as the Assistant Secretary of Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy.
During his presentation, McConnell stressed the importance of working together across industries and nations. Norway and the US have been collaborating for a number of years, with the NorTexPetroleum Cluster as one of the forums for cooperation. Additionally, Rice University collaborates closely with other organizations, such as NASA and Texas Medical Center, on creating improved energy solutions and more sustainable use of fossil fuels. “The question is not if we are going to continue to use fossil fuels, but how we are going to use them. We have to look both at the Makers, how we are producing energy, and the Takers, the consumption patterns of those using the energy”, McConnell said.” Currently, the focus seems to be on ending the use of fossil fuels, rather than spending resources on developing clean and functioning technology.”
In addition, when asked about the use of carbon tax and fines, he said that Government initiatives are important incentives for research and development (R&D). However, “making the use of energy costly will not solve anything. If Governments are to set high carbon taxes, these taxes should go back into R&D initiatives and the development of cleaner technology”, he argued.
“It was a great experience and it was a great venue,” McConnell said about the Lunch’n Learn event after the presentation was over. “It shows great leadership on Norway’s behalf putting this issue on their agenda”.
Visit the Energy and Environment Initiative’s web site for more information: eei.rice.edu