Penn’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy Awards the Inaugural Carnot Prize to IHS Vice Chairman Daniel Yergin

PennDesign’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy announced today that it will honor Dr. Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of research firm IHS, with the Carnot Prize, which recognizes “distinguished contributions to energy policy through scholarship and/or practice.” Former Governor Ed Rendell (C’65) will present the prize to Dr. Yergin during events planned for October 12-13 in the Kleinman Center’s Energy Forum in Penn’s iconic Fisher Fine Arts Library.

The Carnot Prize memorializes the French scientist Sadi Carnot who in 1824 published Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire, which became the basis for the second law of thermodynamics. Carnot recognized that the power of the steam engine would “produce a great revolution” in human affairs. The Carnot Prize is intended to honor those who have revolutionized our understanding of energy policy.    

It is fitting that the inaugural Carnot Prize goes to Daniel Yergin, who concluded his latest book, The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern World (2011), with the story of Carnot. Dr. Yergin is a world-recognized authority on global energy policy and markets. The Quest has been hailed as “a masterly piece of work” by The Economist, and The New York Times said it is “necessary reading for chief executive officers, conservationists, lawmakers, generals, spies, tech geeks, thriller writers.” Dr. Yergin won the Pulitzer Prize for his book, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power (1991), which has been translated into 19 languages. Both The Prize and another book, Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy (2002), were made into PBS/BBC television series.

Penn President Dr. Amy Gutmann said, “I have known and admired Daniel Yergin for many decades and no one has had made greater contributions to the public understanding of energy. Dan embodies the aspirations that Penn and the Kleinman Center have for improving energy policy in the U.S. and around the world. Ben Franklin and Sadi Carnot would have enjoyed each other’s company, and presenting Dan Yergin with this award brings Franklin and Carnot together in a wonderful way.”

PennDesign’s Dean Marilyn Jordan Taylor said, “Dan Yergin’s remarkable contributions to an understanding of energy and energy policy at a global scale are essential starting points for the work of the Kleinman Center. His presence on campus will undoubtedly stimulate faculty and students engaged from across the university in formulating next generation concepts for future energy actions and policies.”

Dr. Yergin said he is honored to receive the Carnot Prize. “Sadi Carnot played a decisive role in the energy transitions that have transformed the world, and I am so pleased that the Kleinman Center has named its annual award after this brilliant thinker,” he said. “I am deeply grateful to be the first recipient. I look forward to my visit with Penn faculty and students to reflect on ‘great revolutions’ in energy, past and future, and to help recognize the important contributions that the Kleinman Center and Penn will make to the understanding of our energy future.”

Dr. Yergin earned his B.A. from Yale University and his Ph.D. from Cambridge University in England, where he was a Marshall Scholar. Prior to founding Cambridge Energy Research Associates, which was acquired by IHS in 2004, he taught at the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of government. He is a member of several organizations, including the National Petroleum Council and the U.S. Secretary of Energy’s Advisory Board. He is a trustee of the Brookings Institution and a director of the Council on Foreign Relations and the New America Foundation. He is also on the advisory board of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative and the Yale University Climate and Energy Institute. In 2014, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Prime Minister of India and the James Schlesinger Medal for Energy Security from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Kleinman Center for Energy Policy was established in 2014 with a gift from Wendy and Scott (C’94, W’94) Kleinman. The Center advances energy policy by convening stakeholders on energy policy to leverage thought leadership among diverse interests in settings that foster innovation and improved outcomes. The Center enhances the policy impact of Penn faculty by connecting research to policy makers and by funding new research on significant energy policy problems. The Center develops the next generation of energy leaders through new courses and curriculum, undergraduate internships, graduate student research, and by bringing the world’s most distinguished energy leaders to Penn for visits and residencies.

Sadi Carnot published his landmark paper at the age of 28. He presented the first workable theory of the maximum efficiency of a heat engine, which converts thermal energy into mechanical energy available for work. While unappreciated during his lifetime, Carnot’s insights became the basis for the second law of thermodynamics and the concept of entropy.

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