Talking energy at Penn

Energy Week 2022, hosted by the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy and the Vagelos Institute for Energy Science and Technology, runs April 4-8. It includes student presentations, along with conversations about renewables, energy and the war in Ukraine, and much more.

Wind turbines in water, with a sunset in the background.

The situation in Ukraine is affecting many facets of life in that part of the world. Anna Mikulska, an energy expert with Penn’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy and a non-resident fellow at Rice University’s Center for Energy Studies, says she believes one of the most problematic relates to the movement of natural gas. 

“It used to be that two-thirds of Russian gas destined for Europe went through Ukraine. That’s a lot, obviously,” says Mikulska, who is also a lecturer in the Department of Russian and East European Studies at Penn. “So, Russia needed Ukraine, and Ukraine needed Russia, which provided its gas at a significant discount and allowed Ukraine to accumulate debt. On several occasions, Russia has tried to use the low prices and debt as a geopolitical tool to turn Ukraine against pro-European policies.” 

Disputes in recent years have led to a disruption to European gas supply. As a result, Ukraine—and much of Central and Eastern Europe—has tried to wean itself from dependence on Russian gas, she says, while Russia and some western European partners have been trying to end reliance on gas transit through Ukraine. 

“Energy has been a major issue between Ukraine and Russia,” says Mikulska. “The question is, How is it going to be resolved and what does it mean for the energy transition?” 

energy week

No one yet knows how this quandary will play out. But in conversation with Andy Stone, producer of the Kleinman Center podcast “Energy Policy Now,” Mikulska will talk through energy implications of the war. This live podcast discussion on Thursday, April 7, at noon, is happening as part of the annual Energy Week at Penn, which this year runs from April 4 to 8. It’s hosted by the Kleinman Center and the Vagelos Institute for Energy Science and Technology

“Energy Week is our favorite time of year. We showcase the energy research happening here at Penn and the work of thinkers and practitioners beyond campus,” says Cory Colijn, Kleinman Center executive director. “It’s really about connecting everyone who is passionate about the energy transition.”

New for 2022 is the Vagelos Institute Lecture in Energy Science and Technology, given by Jillian Dempsey from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “These lectures will give the Penn community the opportunity to hear what leaders in energy research from around the world are doing,” says Karen Goldberg, Vagelos Institute director and a professor in the Department of Chemistry at Penn. “Dr. Dempsey will share some of her exciting work developing efficient processes to produce liquid fuels from CO2 using sunlight.” That event takes place Wednesday, April 6, at 5 p.m. 

Other offerings include: 

• Monday, April 4, 2 p.m., via Zoom, a conversation about cryptocurrency and climate change between Penn Law’s Cary Coglianese and Lawrence Baxter of Duke Law 

• Tuesday, April 5, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., in person, student lightning talks showcasing research from nine Penn undergraduate and graduate students 

• Wednesday, April 6, 5:30 p.m., in person, a lecture by Anna Dyson, who founded and runs Yale’s Center for Ecosystems in Architecture 

• Thursday, April 7, 4 p.m., via Zoom, a panel on renewable energy and Indigenous communities moderated by Tulia Falleti, director of Penn’s Latin American and Latinx Studies Program and a professor of political science

• Friday, April 8, noon, via Zoom, a conversation with New York Times bestselling author Kim Stanley Robinson

“We have a really exciting week planned,” Goldberg says. For the full line up of events, which are open to students, faculty, practitioners, and the public, visit energyweek.upenn.edu

Energy Week at Penn is hosted by the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy and the Vagelos Institute for Energy Science and Technology. Other sponsors include the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research, the Center for Latin American and Latinx Studies, Penn Electric Racing, Penn Engineering, Penn Libraries, the Penn Program on Regulation, the Stuart Weitzman School of Design, the Wharton School, and the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center