Energy Leadership Institute
The University of South Carolina’s Energy Leadership Institute (ELI) is leading groundbreaking energy research across the state and region. In the final stages of formation, the interdisciplinary research team covers the technical, economical and environmental aspects of energy production, distribution and utilization including wind, solar, nuclear, wave, coal, natural gas and fuel.
The ELI is a collaborative effort including more than 125 faculty members from six of the university’s colleges – College of Engineering and Computing, College of Arts and Sciences, Darla Moore School of Business, School of Law, Arnold School of Public Health and College of Mass Communications and Information Studies.
“The business of energy is much more than purely technical,” said Dean Tony Ambler, College of Engineering and Computing. “All energy production has both economic and environmental impacts. USC boasts dozens of experts who are researching not only the production of alternative energy sources, but also the public health impact, political and business strategies, infrastructure support, societal needs and acceptance of these options.”
USC already houses eight Centers of Economic Excellence, financially supported by the State of South Carolina’s SmartState Program, which are directly connected to the mission of the ELI including the following:
- Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Economy
- Renewable Fuel Cells
- Solid Oxide Fuel Cells
- Strategic Approaches to the Generation of Electricity (Clean Coal)
- Nuclear Science and Energy
- General Atomics Center for Transformational Nuclear Technologies
- Nanoenvironmental Research and Risk Assessment
- Data Analysis, Simulation, Imaging and Visualization
“Our state has made a significant investment in energy research because of the economic growth it can bring to the state. We are already recognized for our leadership in fuel cell technologies and nuclear energy. With the location of many energy-based companies within a hundred miles of downtown Columbia, the ELI will also train the next generation of professionals needed to advance the energy industry,” said Ambler.
SmartState Chair and chemical engineer, Dr. John R. ("JR") Regalbuto, was named the ELI director. Currently, Regalbuto is planning a national “Path to Sustainable Energy Security” workshop geared towards developing an energy independence plan for the United States that will also address the combined needs of energy production and policy. The workshop will take place this fall.
“Our vision is to prepare a roadmap that can’t be ignored, because it will be prepared not by a single author, but by a panel of the country’s leading alternate energy experts and practitioners,” said Regalbuto.
“The energy research is taking place as we speak. The ELI is a way of organizing and promoting USC’s efforts,” Ambler added.
Dean Ambler said future plans call for collaboration with faculty, private and public organizations, and policy makers to create a range of energy related undergraduate and graduate programs at USC.
“Though only in the planning stages now, these new academic programs would require students to take courses in engineering, computing, public health, business, law, communications – all areas that impact energy production and utilization.”