Through an initiative to strengthen ties between the industrial and academic domains of sustainable energy and environmental technology, the University established the Princeton Energy and Environment Corporate Affiliates Program earlier this semester. PSEG, the parent company of the nation’s largest electric and gas company PSE&G, became the program’s first charter member as of Nov. 30.
The program’s primary goal is to “discover, develop and transfer to industry practical and transformative solutions to generate new profitable product lines, create investment opportunities for venture capital, revitalize the energy sector and protect the environment,” according to its website. The program also aims to maintain an open discussion between academic researchers and corporate leaders about major environmental concerns such as the global energy crisis and climate change.
“Our research is focused on energy resources and the impact of emissions and sustainability,” Director of the Program in Sustainable Energy Yiguang Ju said. “But we cannot ask only scientific questions — we need to understand how to make technological goods competitive in the market.”
The program will also enhance the center’s multi-disciplinary research goals, according to Andlinger Center founding director Emily Carter — particularly those involving alternative energy.
“We want to train the next generation of leaders to understand the interconnections between energy and the environment,” she said. “We need to prepare the United States and the world to become less dependent on fossil fuels, and we can do this by working jointly with industries.”
Senior Vice President for Public Affairs and Sustainability at PSEG Anne Hoskins GS ’86, explained the company’s incentives for establishing ties with Princeton.
“As the utility company that serves Princeton, we have always had a relationship with the University,” she said. “The program is an opportunity to capitalize on the academic and research skills of the University by bringing it together with the corporate sector. We not only need to have academic research, but also input from energy sector users.”
The company is also interested in University students, Hoskins said.
“We want to engage students who might have an interest in the energy sector with projects involving risk management, power plant operations and regulatory economic issues,” she explained.
The program invites businesses to become charter members, general members or affiliate members, with the goal of attracting a variety of business sizes. According to Carter, the Andlinger Center has been meeting with companies from New York to Washington, D.C., to establish more partnerships. The inaugural annual meeting of members will be conducted at Princeton this summer.
Environmentalists at the University said they hope that the research supported by the program will have major national and global impacts.
“This is a good opportunity for research to be connected to industry,” Ju said. “Not only will this program help the development of research at Princeton, but it will benefit industries around the country and around the world.”
Hoskins also emphasized the importance of sustainability research.
“The world is dealing with challenges involving climate change at too slow of a pace,” she said. “There have to be some game changers if we want to sustain the environment by 2050.”
The program is being supervised by the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, along with the Wilson School, Princeton Environmental Institute, School of Architecture, Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab and Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials.