MIT Energy Conference Day One

Thu, 31 Mar 2022 13:00:00 GMT

The 2022 MIT Energy Conference will return in-person at the Boston Marriott Cambridge after a 2-year hiatus, and we’re also planning on a hybrid format to allow other attendees to tune in virtually from around the globe!


The 2022 conference will also expand its scope to include broader issues in the fight against climate change, both within and outside the energy sector. Please check out the agenda page for more details on our exciting lineup of events. You can find more details on speakers and startups presenting at the Tech Showcase as well.

March 31, 2022 – Day 1, Thursday

9:05am – 9:35am: Keynote address (virtual) by Dr. Fatih Birol: Executive Director of International Energy Agency

Accelerating Global Action on Clean Energy and Energy Security

Dr Fatih Birol has served as Executive Director of the International Energy Agency since 2015. Under his leadership, the IEA has moved to the forefront of global efforts to reach international climate goals while ensuring that the social and economic impacts of clean energy transitions are at the heart of policy-making and energy security is safeguarded.

9:40am – 10:20am: Keynote address by Glenn Llewellyn: Vice President of the Zero Emission Program at Airbus

Insights on future Hydrogen aircraft

Glenn Llewellyn is Vice President, Zero-Emission Aircraft at Airbus. He is widely recognized as a top-tier leader on climate strategy for aviation. Today, Glenn is at the helm of a zero-emission revolution at Airbus with the mission to unite all the ingredients needed to launch the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft program, ZEROe.

10:35am – 11:15am: PLENARY PANEL: Facilitating a Just Energy Transition

Moderator: Justin Worland – Senior Correspondent: Climate Change, TIME Magazine

Systemic injustice has left marginalized communities and nations exposed to a higher level of threat from the climate crisis. In addition to the harm already done, these groups are at high risk of further suffering not only from the consequences of climate change but also from the adverse effects of the global transition toward decarbonization. It is therefore critical to ensure that all global platforms and commitments consider equitable solutions, particularly in vulnerable communities, in the fight against climate change. Through this panel discussion, we aim to amplify the voices of those most likely to be adversely impacted by climate change and the global transition toward decarbonization, who are fighting to be truly heard in this global discussion. What are the potential strategies that can simultaneously improve the lives of marginalized communities while moving the needle on climate solutions? What concerns do marginalized communities have and how should stakeholders work together to address those concerns?

Featured Panelists:
  • Sarah Jackson – Northeast Regional Climate & Energy Policy Manager, The Nature Conservancy
  • Nonabah Lane – Co-founder, Navajo Ethno-Agriculture
  • Heather McGeory – Global Lead, Climate and Sustainability, APCO Worldwide
  • Dr. Destenie Nock – Assistant Professor, Carnegie Mellon University

11:20am – 12:00pm: Fireside Chat with Audrey Choi and Jason Jay

Sharing her vision for the role of corporates and private capital in addressing the climate crisis

Audrey Choi: Senior Advisor and CEO of the Institute for Sustainable Investing, Morgan Stanley

Audrey Choi is Morgan Stanley’s Chief Sustainability Officer and is the founding CEO of Morgan Stanley’s industry-leading Institute for Sustainable Investing where she oversees the Firm’s efforts to promote global sustainability through the capital markets. She also serves on the Firm’s Management Committee and for four years, Ms. Choi simultaneously served as Morgan Stanley’s Chief Marketing Officer where she stewarded the brand to reflect the Firm’s core values of leading with integrity and exceptional ideas, and won industry awards for best corporate strategy and media innovation as the Morgan Stanley brand reached an all-time high.

Moderator: Jason Jay, Director of MIT Sloan Sustainable Initiative

Jason Jay is a Senior Lecturer and Director of the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative. He teaches executive and masters-level courses on strategy, innovation, and leadership for sustainable business. He has helped secure MIT Sloan’s position as a leader in the field of sustainability through teaching, research, and industry engagement. Dr. Jay’s publications have appeared in the Academy of Management Journal and California Management Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Greenbiz, and World Economic Forum. With Gabriel Grant, he is the author of the international bestseller Breaking Through Gridlock: The Power of Conversation in a Polarized World. Dr. Jay also works as a facilitator for companies, organizations, and business families, supporting high quality conversation and shared commitment to ambitious sustainability goals. His clients have included EFG Asset Management, Novartis, Bose, Environmental Defense Fund, BP and the World Bank.

12:00pm – 1:30pm: Lunch

1:35-2:15pm: BREAKAWAY PANEL I: Deploying the Hydrogen Economy

Moderator: Dharik Mallapragada, Research Scientist, MIT Energy Initiative

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and when used as an energy source, it emits only water. As the world is struggling to find replacements for fossil fuels, green hydrogen, hydrogen produced by renewable energy sources, is gaining significant attention with its potential to be a zero-emission energy carrier. Nevertheless, the deployment of hydrogen in the industrial, energy, and transportation sectors still faces tremendous uncertainties. How can we drive down costs along the green hydrogen value chain making it more competitive in the market? How can industry sectors leverage the advantages of hydrogen to decarbonize hard-to-abate sectors? What policy levers and innovation support should be in place to ensure that countries and regions meet their hydrogen development goals? This panel will gather industry leaders in hydrogen planning, production, and utilization to discuss the progress made in recent years and the future pathways to a hydrogen economy.

Featured Panelists:
  • Arnab Chatterjee – VP of Infrastructure, ZeroAvia
  • Preeti Pande – CMO, Plug Power
  • Brett Perleman – CEO, Center for Houston’s Future

1:35-2:15pm: BREAKAWAY PANEL II: Financing the Journey to Net Zero: Challenges and Opportunities for Environmentally Sustainable Economic Development

A global energy transition is needed to avert the worst impacts of climate change, and energy decisions in developing countries will have an outsized impact on future emissions. However, developing countries face a number of unique challenges in transitioning energy supplies while maintaining economic growth. What are the opportunities for overcoming financial challenges blocking environmentally sustainable development? What do different governmental, multilateral, and private development actors see as key priorities and exciting possibilities? How can the developed world lend a helping hand to developing countries in terms of equitably financing their energy transition?

International, collaborative, blended public climate finance will have a critical role to play in bolstering a low-carbon, resilient transformation of the world’s global economy. This panel seeks to provoke discussions, spark debate and call for action to mobilize such resources to halt the erratic clock that’s ticking away at our collective climate futures.

Featured Panelists:
  • Moderator: Anil Markandya – Distinguished Ikerbasque Professor, Basque Centre for Climate Change
  • Pilar Carvajo Lucena – Investment Officer, IDB Invest
  • Vivek Pathak – Director and Global Head for Climate Business, IFC / World Bank
  • Antonio Silveira – VP Infrastructure – CAF, Bank of Development of Latin America

2:20pm-3:00 pm: BREAKAWAY PANEL I: Modernizing the Grid

Our extensive and reliable power grid, connecting all generation sources to all end-uses, has been so critical to our nation’s growth that the National Academy of Engineering named “electrification” the greatest engineering achievement of the 20th century. However, the existing power system cannot meet the evolving demands of the 21st century. Traditional grid architecture was based on large-scale generation remotely located from consumers, centralized control structures with minimal feedback, limited energy storage, and passive loads. A modern grid must be flexible, robust, and agile from end to end, spanning generation, delivery, and end-user segments. This panel will discuss some of the most urgent questions on grid modernization and distributed energy resource integration, including strategies to increase the deployment of existing smart grid solutions, the impacts of new technologies such as vehicle-to-grid integration, how customers increasingly value resiliency through adoption of backup power and microgrid systems, and new opportunities and challenges presented by FERC Order 2222 for customers, distributed resource aggregators, utilities, and wholesale market operators.

Featured Panelists:
  • Moderator: Sanem Sergici – Principal, The Brattle Group
  • Tim Hade – COO, Scale Microgrid Solutions
  • Stephen Lasher – Director of the Electric Markets Integration, National Grid
  • John Taggart – CTO, WeaveGrid

2:20pm – 3:00pm: BREAKAWAY PANEL II: Challenges and Trends in the VC Space

Although the energy transition has been gaining traction worldwide, it has done so without vigorous VC participation. VC investment could ensure a solid startup ecosystem developing new technologies to build a sustainable energy economy. For instance, the share of “energy unicorns” in the United States and Canada, as of April 2021, represented only 1.37% (Source: Statista estimates; CrunchBase; CB Insights, and other), and the VC deals in energy have reached $1.9 Billion in 2020, the lowest among the leading industries (Source: NVCA 2021 Yearbook). This panel will address the current role of VC investors in the clean energy space and today’s greatest challenges to fostering innovative instruments to tackle the barriers of capital costs for renewable energy. What are the main challenges in identifying and funding entrepreneurs focused on unlocking new energy sources? What are the key elements missing in the current legislation, policy frameworks, regulations, and guidance to promote more VC deals in the energy industry? Is the VC participation in energy projects consistent with the level of emerging startups in that space? What are the critical issues for achieving a suitable collaboration among stakeholders to improve financing platforms for energy ventures (Startups, VC, Multilateral Agencies, and Government)?

Moderator: Jon Shieber – Editor and Venture Partner, FootPrint Coalition

Featured Panelists:
  • Ryan Dings – COO and General Counsel, Greentown Labs
  • Brian Mayers – Investor & Company Builder, Breakthrough Energy Ventures
  • Shail Mehta – Managing Director, Global Co-Head of Clean Energy Transition, Citi
  • Christina O’Conor – Partner & Climate Tech Investor, Congruent Ventures

3:15pm – 3:55pm: BREAKAWAY PANEL I: Driving the Future of Personal Mobility

Moderator: Annie Hudson – Assistant Director, MIT Mobility Initiative

As human population, travel, and international trade continue to increase, so do associated emissions that pose risk to both human health and the environment. For the United States, transportation is among the worst offenders, accounting for 29% of total U.S. GHG emissions in 2019. More specifically, light-duty vehicles and medium-large trucks alone generated 82% of these emissions. So while the need to decarbonize personal mobility is apparent, the heterogeneity and unique needs of population centers complicate the task of generating practical implementation strategies: the question has evolved from “what to change” to “where and how to begin the required change”? What does this change look like in the day-to-day of city-goers? In more rural areas? How do we drive these changes for the individual consumer? How do we scale this change across cities and countries? And how do we make these changes sustainable enough to stand the test of time?

This panel will tackle these questions by looking at mobility from a bottom-up approach: considering changes at the city level, impacts on the persons who inhabit them, and how localized success may eventually cascade to industrial and commercial mobility. This panel will address the obstacles and practical steps necessary to reimagine personal mobility in a net-zero world.

Featured Panelists:
  • Nick Albanese – Head of Market Research, Westly Group
  • Will Graylin – CEO, Indigo Technologies
  • Lynda Tran – Director of Public Engagement and Senior Advisor to Transportation Secretary Peter Buttigieg
  • Alex Wallar – CTO, The Routing Company

3:15pm – 3:55pm: BREAKAWAY PANEL: The Future of Nuclear Energy

Governments, civil entities, and private companies continue to migrate towards carbon neutral practices, driven by concern over increasing effects of climate change. Migrating to cleaner practices demands that our supply of energy is generated from non-fossil fuels. Nuclear energy is an attractive but controversial energy source with reduced GHG emissions. In the past, politics, social perception, and rare catastrophes have slowed down the innovation and adoption of this technology, while solar, wind, and other renewables have grown rapidly. In recent years, more investment and focus has been placed into nuclear energy as a strong partner to renewables and an attractive option to produce synthetic fuels. This panel will span three pillars of nuclear energy: science, systems and society. It will share the newest technologies in fission such as mobile microreactors. Furthermore, it will explore infrastructure and regulation requirements that need to take place to incorporate nuclear energy into our portfolio of clean energy sources. Finally, it will discuss the importance of stakeholder and public commitment to the technology and explore potential pathways for nuclear energy deployment.

Featured Panelists:
  • Moderator: Sonal Patel – Senior Associate Editor, POWER Magazine
  • Jacopo Buongiorno – Director, CANES (Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems), MIT
  • Samuel Lee – Acting Director, Division of Security Operations, US NRC
  • Jeff Navin – Director of External Affairs, Terrapower