Today at Berkeley Lab

Lab Participates in DOE’s ‘Big Ideas’ Summit

At this year’s Big Ideas Summit, Mary Ann Piette, Director of ETA’s Buildings Technology and Urban Systems Division, provided a memorable moment when the meeting’s laptop failed and she continued without notes in an impromptu tour de force, using the extra time to drive home her team’s systems-level approach to the issues and opportunities posed by our growing cities.

At this year’s Big Ideas Summit, Mary Ann Piette, Director of ETA’s Buildings Technology and Urban Systems Division, provided a memorable moment when the meeting’s laptop failed and she continued without notes in an impromptu tour de force, using the extra time to drive home her team’s systems-level approach to the issues and opportunities posed by our growing cities.

Berkeley Lab shone last month at DOE’s National Laboratory Big Ideas Summit near Washington, D.C. The Summit was the third annual gathering to elicit large-scale, potentially game-changing ideas from DOE’s 17 national laboratories working collaboratively to tackle the nation’s energy and science challenges. A theme of this year’s Summit was the Presidential Mission Innovation initiative to dramatically accelerate global clean energy innovation to address climate change.

Laboratory Director Witherell and Deputy Director Simon joined Secretary Moniz, Undersecretary for Science and Energy Orr, OSTP Director Holdren and others to underscore the national labs’ role in the U.S. research enterprise and support their collective vision and creativity. In his keynote address, Dr. Moniz called out several Big Ideas with strong Lab participation, including new approaches to transportation, the global carbon sink, and urban systems.

The Lab led and co-led six of the nine ideas and contributed to all the ideas developed over two days of pitches, presentations and workshops to refine the competitively selected concepts. “This event really highlighted the impact of our scientists across the entire range of DOE science and technology,” said Witherell. “They all did a great job.”

Ideas from previous years’ summits have proven highly influential. For example, the DOE Grid Modernization Initiative – recently awarded $200M for projects with 14 national labs and their partners – began as a Big Idea proposal in 2014. The 13-lab subsurface science and engineering (SubTER) Crosscut, co-led by Susan Hubbard (EESA), has steered $19M to labs, universities and industry, and has requested $72M for FY17. Other DOE cross-cutting efforts supported in the FY16 and FY17 budget requests – including the energy-water nexus and advanced transportation concepts – also debuted at the Summits in 2014 and 2015. Deputy Laboratory Director Horst Simon noted, “The Big Idea Summits are great opportunities for the national labs to collaborate and bring together their unique combination of expertise and facilities to solve national challenges.”

Here are this year’s Big Ideas, with team leadership noted:

• Enhancing the Global Carbon Sink. LBNL, lead (Margaret Torn)
• Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting & Analysis System (GHG-ERAS). LLNL, lead
• Hydrogen at Scale: Enabling Deep Decarbonization across all Energy Sectors through Increased Energy Penetration. NREL, lead.
• Smaller, Cheaper, Better: Solving Big Problems with Small Accelerators and Powerful Lasers. ANL, LBNL (Wim Leemans) co-leads
• Transportation as a System. Co-led by ANL, INL, LBNL (Alex Bayen), NREL, ORNL
• Solving the Information Technology Energy Challenge Beyond Moore’s Law. LBNL (R. Ramesh, John Shalf, Patrick Naulleau), SNL, co-leads
• The BioFoundry: Advancing the Bioeconomy through Biomanufacturing. LBNL, lead (Blake Simmons)
• Energy Everywhere: Clean Energy through Modular Chemical Conversions. Ames, PNNL, co-leads
• Metropolitan Energy Science and Engineering. ANL, LBNL (Mary Ann Piette), co-leads