The first two years of the collaborative project, which begin in September, will work toward a proposal for including the RCGI in an international climate initiative led by the American university

The FAPESP Shell Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI) has been invited to join an international initiative, led by Princeton University, the Andlinger Center for Energy, and the Dow Center for Sustainable Engineering Innovation: the Rapid Switch project. The main objective is to analyze the bottlenecks and the unintentional consequences that could arise during the transition to cleaner energy sources, and to resolve those problems by taking into consideration each economic sector and the different regional contexts. The general idea is to speed up the energy transition processes, while investigating the most viable possibilities involving renewable sources.

This collaborative partnership established by the RCGI with Princeton University will initially run from September 2019 to August 2021. “The objective is to facilitate closer cooperation between the two institutions, in order to prepare a final proposal for the participation of the RCGI in the Rapid Switch project. The activities programed for this first stage include the visits of three lecturers from the RCGI to Princeton to discuss the project, and visits of Professor Eric Larson and two other researchers to the University of São Paulo (USP) to participate in two workshops, one per year, organized at the RCGI. Those visits will facilitate the interaction of students and other speakers and researchers during the lectures, encounters, and workshops,” says Professor Suani Coelho, coordinator of one of the RCGI projects and an instructor in USP’s Institute for Energy and the Environment (IEE/USP).

Professor Larson is the Coordinator of Rapid Switch and has previously visited USP for other events. He was invited by Professor Coelho to take part, recently, in the School of Advanced Science for Renewable Energy Sources of São Paulo, in July and August 2018, at USP’s Polytechnic School (Poli/USP).

“USP has a strong collaborative relationship with Princeton and for quite some time there has been a desire to have Brazil participate in Rapid Switch. Now, with the approval of this first project, we will hold a series of meetings to prepare a robust participation proposal. In October, Larson will come to ETRI 2019, the annual Energy Transition Research & Innovation event that the RCGI organizes in conjunction with Sustainable Gas Innovation (SGI), of Imperial College London,” says Ms. Coelho. Next year, a team from the RCGI will likely go to Princeton and India, where a workshop for the project will be held.

Such institutions as the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (India), Tsinghua University (China), and Carnegie Mellon University (U.S.) are already involved in the project, which seeks to expand to other European, Latin American, Asian, and African countries. From the viewpoint of the institutions leading this initiative, the Paris Agreement – that sets emissions reduction targets for each country in an attempt to mitigate global warming – was not based on a sufficiently comprehensive understanding of the scale and pace of industrial transformation needed to achieve the mitigation goals, or even the socio-economic, psychological, and political forces that, potentially, could both limit or advance the progress of the changes. Thus, there is a felt need for a project that takes into consideration these forces in effect.

“The proposal should make a strong contribution to the internationalization of the RCGI and give great visibility to our work. We still do not know exactly with which project we will take part in Rapid Switch, but we know that it will be along the line of renewable energy sources,” Professor Coelho believes.

The proposed partnership includes financing by both of the institutions involved – USP and Princeton University – shared practically in equal parts, for a total of approximately US$ 44,000, for the two-year period.