Throughout history, access to energy has been critical for economic growth. This trend is expected to continue in the years to come—global energy demand is set to grow by almost 40 percent over the next two decades. All of this growth will occur in emerging economies, where 1.4 billion people currently lack access to reliable electricity, and nearly half of it will occur in China and India alone.
Yet for all of its benefits, today’s energy system comes with significant social costs. A changing climate is beginning to affect our lives in profound ways. High pollution levels are shortening lifespans, especially in emerging economies. And all of these impacts can hold back economic progress, often in areas where people are living on incomes that are too low.
This is the global energy challenge: How can we ensure that people around the world, today and in the future, have access to reliable, affordable energy needed for human development without putting our health, environment and climate at risk?
EPIC is confronting this challenge using a cross-cutting approach that links the University of Chicago’s renowned economists with leading thinkers in policy and law, business, big data, engineering and natural and physical sciences throughout the University and at partner institutes such as the Marine Biological Lab and Argonne National Lab. By leveraging these University partners and harnessing top talent with varied expertise, EPIC is tackling the world’s toughest energy problems. At the same time, the Institute is working directly with global leaders to help them make important decisions about our future, while also educating and mentoring the energy leaders of tomorrow.