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Agreement Between University and Northeast Clean Energy Council Means New Opportunities for Students, Faculty, Businesses
Officials from Syracuse University and the Northeast Clean Energy Council (NECEC) last week signed a memorandum of understanding forming a collaborative partnership between both organizations. The agreement aims to raise the visibility and impact of emerging research on clean climate technologies; increase engagement in the region for governments and businesses looking to meet their net-zero carbon transitions through clean energy policies and innovations; and create career-building experiential opportunities for students.
Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, NECEC represents more than 300 member companies involved in climate technology throughout New York State and New England. The joint NECEC–Syracuse University initiative offers a unique opportunity to leverage the engagement expertise of NECEC in policy and innovation for clean energy and climate with the research strengths of the University, an R-1 (top-tier) international research institution.
As part of the agreement, the University will host an operating office for NECEC at Syracuse University’s Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems (SyracuseCoE) facility to be staffed by student researchers from the Dynamic Sustainability Lab, a research unit in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. The office is set to open in the spring semester.
“Through partnerships with strategic leaders such as NECEC, we aim to harness the research and creative activities of our faculty and students for the benefit of our community, our nation and our planet as we face pressing climate and sustainability challenges,” says the University’s Vice President for Research Duncan Brown, who is also the Charles Brightman Endowed Professor of Physics. “Our partnership with NECEC will provide unique opportunities for Syracuse University students from many different academic programs to work together with climate and energy experts and innovators on real-world and impactful projects that will better prepare them for successful careers after graduation.”
NECEC President Joe Curtatone says the stage has been set for students to enter new climate-conscious professions, due to $369 billion in federal investment from the Inflation Reduction Act and important action by New York State and beyond on converting to a clean energy grid.
“Decarbonization is a whole-of-society effort that must reach every home on every street in every neighborhood before we can deem it a success,” says Curtatone. “That’s going to mean generations of new jobs as we break our fossil fuel dependency and embrace localized energy production, clean energy consumption and sustainable industrial practices. It is essential to have top-flight institutions like Syracuse not just preparing students to succeed in the climate economy, but in leading efforts for a rapid and opportunity-laden transition to a decarbonized world.”
Jay Golden, Pontarelli Professor of Environmental Sustainability and Finance and director of the Dynamic Sustainability Lab in the Maxwell School, who developed the idea for the partnership with Curtatone, says the alliance is an exciting development at an opportune time. The Dynamic Sustainability Lab recently was awarded part of a multi-institutional $60 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to advance climate-smart commodities and products.
“Our partnership with NECEC will help accelerate our progress in developing practical solutions and speed the growth of a new generation of innovators, entrepreneurs and green-tech businesses in New York state. And through this partnership, these innovations now will benefit not only the people of New York, but also those living throughout the Northeast,” Golden says.
Jianshun “Jensen” Zhang, executive director of SyracuseCoE, says the SyracuseCoE is pleased to welcome the Northeast Clean Energy Council and Dynamic Sustainability Lab researchers to the downtown Syracuse facility. “We have complementary strengths and common goals to bring new technologies to the market that will help New York state and the U.S. transition to resilient, clean energy and low-carbon communities and cities,” Zhang says.
NECEC leads the just, equitable and rapid transition to a clean energy future and a diverse climate economy. NECEC is the only organization in the Northeast that covers all of the clean energy market segments, representing the business perspectives of investors and clean energy companies across every stage of development. NECEC members span the broad spectrum of the clean energy industry, including clean transportation, energy efficiency, wind, solar, energy storage, microgrids, fuel cells, clean buildings and advanced “smart” technologies.
The Dynamic Sustainability Lab serves as a non-partisan partner to industry, government and nongovernmental organizations regarding the risks, unintended consequences and opportunities of the global sustainability transition while providing unique applied learning and engagement experiences for Syracuse University students.
Jessica Smith, director of communications and media relations in the Maxwell School, contributed to this story