Nobel Laureate Richter to Chair APS Energy Study

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Former APS President and Nobel Laureate Burton Richter will chair a newly established APS study group that will produce a report on energy efficiency. The study will focus primarily on buildings and transportation, which together account for more than 70 percent of the total domestic carbon emissions.

Richter, who received the Nobel Prize in 1976, served as APS president in 1994 and has chaired the APS Physics Policy Committee. He is also the director emeritus of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.

According to the study group charge, “Improving energy efficiency is the simplest and least costly means available to reduce U.S. oil consumption and carbon emissions, but the U.S. is not doing enough to capitalize on energy efficiency either at home or in the products it exports. Improving energy efficiency must be one part of a portfolio of approaches for treating the U.S. ‘oil addiction’ and reducing its output of greenhouse gases.”

“First on everyone’s list, whether you’re concerned about global warming or energy supply security, should be conservation and efficiency,” said Richter.

Richter said APS completed its first study on efficiency in 1975. “This new study will review where we are and define the most promising areas of development for the future,” said Richter.

The study group will address many questions, including the following:
  • What gains in energy efficiency are technically feasible and over what periods of time?

  • What basic and applied research, development and demonstration need to be conducted and/or funded by government and industry to achieve the technically feasible gains in energy efficiency?

  • What changes in government programs are needed to accomplish the research, development and demonstration?

  • What changes in government policy are needed to facilitate the success of new energy-efficient technologies in the marketplace?
Energy-efficiency is “clearly an area where we can get the greatest gains most quickly for the least cost,” said study group Vice Chair David Goldston, who previously served as staff director of the House Science Committee. 

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