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Energy Institute Lecture Series: Dr. Varun Rai

October 6, 2021

11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Zoom Meeting

Energy Institute Lecture Series

Sustaining the Energy Transition: Building Up Through our Communities

The next presentation in the Texas A&M Energy Institute Lecture Series, featuring Dr. Varun Rai, a professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, will be held on Wednesday, October 6, 2021, from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CDT (GMT -5:00) through a Zoom Meeting. The topic will be “Sustaining the Energy Transition: Building Up Through our Communities.”


Achieving a successful energy transition toward a clean, just, and equitable global energy system will take decades and is bound to face myriad pulls and pushes along the way owing to the deep rewiring of our technological, economic, and social systems that is entailed. A lynchpin in sustaining the progress over decades toward a successful energy transition is the cross-cutting buy-in across communities. Drawing from multiple recently completed or ongoing projects in my research group, I will discuss the elements involved in effective community engagement and empowerment, in a way that builds trust, buy-in, and active support for long-term, deep change in the global energy system, thus enabling a new “social contract” as the bedrock for building up an energy transition that can be sustained and be eventually successful.


Varun Rai is a professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs, where he directs the Energy Systems Transformation Research Group, and in the Mechanical Engineering department. His interdisciplinary research at the interface of energy systems, behavioral sciences, complex systems and public policy focuses on enabling a broad diffusion of sustainable energy technologies globally. Dr. Rai has published numerous journal articles, including in Applied EnergyEnergy PolicyEnergy Research & Social ScienceEnvironmental Research LettersGlobal Environmental ChangeNature Climate Change and PLOS ONE.

His research has been presented at several important forums, including the United States Senate Briefings, Global Economic Symposium and Climate One at Commonwealth Club, and has been discussed in the New York Times, the Wall Street JournalWashington Post and Bloomberg News, among other venues. He serves on the editorial boards of The Electricity Journal and Energy Research & Social Science, for which he is also an associate editor. Dr. Rai was a Global Economic Fellow in 2009 and, during 2013–15, he was a commissioner for the vertically integrated electric utility Austin Energy (~$1.4 billion revenue in 2015). In 2016 the Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM) awarded him the David N. Kershaw Award and Prize, which “was established to honor persons who, at under the age of 40, have made a distinguished contribution to the field of public policy analysis and management.”