As the world completes another record-breaking year of global warming, we should all rightly look to the future with trepidation. But it’s just as important to celebrate the good news: not only is the global transition to clean energy already happening, it’s also gaining substantial and sorely needed momentum. Along with more than 100 countries from all over the world, the U.S. has committed to reducing carbon levels and mitigating many of the urgent risks posed to us all by climate change. Our health, our communities, and our economies are already benefiting from our efforts to develop cleaner and more resilient energy systems.
It’s also noteworthy that the American people are increasingly an important part of this forward momentum. The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication conducted a nationally representative survey of registered voters shortly after this past year’s presidential election, finding that seven in ten voters think the U.S. should continue to participate in the 2016 United Nations Paris agreement to limit climate change. In addition, 82 percent of voters support funding research on renewable energy sources.
At the Wisconsin Energy Institute (WEI), we too believe in the power of clean energy to transform our world for the better, and that’s why we’re working hard to develop clean energy systems and solutions. In 2016, our staff and researchers educated a new generation of energy leaders, conducted research with the power to transform how we source and use energy, and translated scientific discoveries into tangible benefits for industry, consumers, and communities at large.
Now more than ever, we are also convinced that clean energy can be an engine for our economy and a powerful source of new jobs. According to Clean Jobs Midwest, the Midwest’s clean energy sector now employs 569,000 people, and clean energy employment is projected to grow almost nine times faster than the national average over the next ten years. As this market moves forward, we continue to dwell in an optimism born of experience, and in the knowledge that the collaborative work we do – across disciplines and with industry – can create critical leaps forward in technology, in policies, and in our ways of thinking.
At the Wisconsin Energy Institute (WEI), we too believe in the power of clean energy to transform our world for the better, and that’s why we’re working hard to develop clean energy systems and solutions.Ian Coxhead
This year we said goodbye to retiring WEI director and Wisconsin Distinguished Professor Michael Corradini in the College of Engineering. As we begin the process of hiring his replacement, we are focusing on positioning Wisconsin and WEI as a place for informed conversations on energy. Our new Forward in Energy Forum promises to bring together experts from across campus on a wide array of energy issues, launching the discussion needed to generate new research partnerships and new policy ideas. And our new website, an access point for a variety of energy stakeholders interested in collaboration, articulates our mission perhaps better than ever before.
Looking to the future, WEI will expand and deepen its commitments to the people of Wisconsin, the nation, and the world. Here as elsewhere on campus, the Wisconsin Idea is our governing idea. Through our education, research, and outreach, we will continue to create real-world solutions that will improve the economics of clean energy and limit the effects of climate change. At the start of 2017, we remain honored as ever to be moving forward with you.