About the Institute
Every day, headlines across the world are captured by issues surrounding energy generation, consumption, and costs. With the unprecedented rise in oil prices over the past year, US oil imports now exceed one billion dollars per day. Our other widely used energy sources (coal, nuclear) are each fraught with their own shortcomings. With energy playing such a central role in every facet of modern life, it is not surprising that much public discourse and political activity have focused on energy prices, energy security, and the environmental consequences of energy use.
World energy demand is projected to double by 2050, and triple by the end of the century. Compounding this situation is the dwindling supply of easily-extractable, inexpensive energy reserves. It is evident that the resource issues surrounding our energy future are much larger and more complex than any we have faced in the past. The threats of climate change and other environmental impacts associated with energy use only add to the urgency of effectively addressing our energy options.
Renewable energy technologies are often considered as key to meeting our energy needs in the near and long term. However, such alternative energy sources are not without their technological and other constraints. Furthermore, even if fossil fuel consumption is held constant, and energy from renewable resources is increased to meet projected energy demand, we will still double atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations from their present historically high levels. Energy efficiency is widely identified as the most cost-effective near-term option to meet our energy needs in an environmentally sustainable fashion. Carbon capture and emission control will also play critical roles. All these options must be considered together through in-depth interdisciplinary study and systematic review if we are to successfully transition to the next stage of our energy future.
The University of Delaware Energy Institute is well-poised to help address our energy challenges through its extensive resources in scientific, engineering, business and public policy aspects of energy issues. For nearly four decades, researchers at the University of Delaware have been leaders in energy fields such as:
- catalysts for fuels production
- lightweight composites for fuel-efficient vehicles
- energy efficiency and conservation
- energy and environmental policy
- fuel cell science and technology
- wind power
- energy storage
It is clear that there is no single technology, no "silver bullet," that will ensure our economic prosperity, environmental integrity, and energy security. Recognizing the need for integration and collaboration of efforts in energy research, development, and policy, the University of Delaware Energy Institute was established. The Institute serves as the focal point of energy research, education and outreach and will continue the University of Delaware's tradition of applying research and policy efforts toward solving society's most pressing problems.