Symposium to Explore Tensions in Energy Innovation, Investment, Policy, Oct. 18-19

The annual BERC Energy Symposium will examine the tensions involved in aligning energy innovation, investment, and policy during a two-day series of events on Thursday, Oct. 18, and Friday, Oct. 19, at UC Berkeley.

The symposium, the largest student-run energy conference on the West Coast, will bring together key players from research, business development, policy, and economics at the Martin Luther King Student Union. It is organized by the Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative (BERC), an interdisciplinary UC Berkeley student club, founded by Berkeley MBA students.

"Energy is a very complicated, interdisciplinary topic, so we decided to explore where some of the tensions are," says BERC co-president Josh Lich, MBA 13. "Challenges in the energy field will only be solved if people with different views come together to discuss the hard topics. So every panel will discuss a problem in energy that needs to be solved."

For instance, a panel on shale gas and renewables will feature executives from a solar company and big oil and gas companies, Lich says. "There's a lot of debate whether we as a country should invest in natural gas because it's so cheap or whether we should continue to invest in renewables," he says. "We have both points of view on this particular panel to discuss that."

Other panel discussions will delve into such topics as energy savings for the 99 percent, China's energy agenda, and how the arts can promote sustainable energy.

The event will begin with an Innovation Expo from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, when more than 50 scientists, researchers, and companies will showcase their latest breakthroughs. "It's really the only place on the West Coast where so many new and emerging technologies will be on display at one time," Lich says.

The next day, Friday, the symposium will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with two keynote speeches, a fireside chat, and a reception in addition to the panels throughout the day.

The morning keynote will be given by Dan Arvizu, the eighth director of the U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab, the Department of Energy's primary lab for energy efficiency and renewable energy research and development. Arvizu also is serving his second six-year term on the National Science Board, the governing board of the National Science Foundation and the national science policy advisory body to the president and Congress.

Richard Kauffmann, senior advisor to the U.S. secretary of energy since September 2011, will give the afternoon keynote address. Before joining the Department of Energy, Kauffmann served as CEO of Good Energies Inc., an investor in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. He previously worked as a partner at Goldman Sachs, where he chaired the Global Financing Group, and Morgan Stanley, where he served as vice chair of the Institutional Securities Business and co-head of its banking department.

An early-bird discount on ticket prices is available until Oct. 1. For more information and registration, visit

Watch a promotional video for the Energy Symposium.