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Interview with Mark Z. Jacobson

by | Feb 22, 2018 | Interviews,

Mark Z. Jacobson

Mark Z. Jacobson

Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University

Key Topics:Clean Energy, Renewable Energy; Air Pollution; Climate
Location:Stanford, CA, USA

Mark Z. Jacobson is Director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Woods Institute for the Environment and of the Precourt Institute for Energy.  He received a B.S. in Civil Engineering, an A.B. in Economics, and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Stanford in 1988.  He received an M.S. and PhD in Atmospheric Sciences in 1991 and 1994, respectively, from UCLA and joined the faculty at Stanford in 1994. He has published two textbooks of two editions each and 153 peer-reviewed journal articles.  He received the 2005 AMS Henry G. Houghton Award and the 2013 AGU Ascent Award for his work on black carbon climate impacts and the 2013 Global Green Policy Design Award for developing state and country energy plans. In 2015, he received a Cozzarelli Prize from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences for his work on the grid integration of 100% wind, water and solar energy systems. He has served on an advisory committee to the U.S. Secretary of Energy, appeared in a TED talk, appeared on the David Letterman Show to discuss converting the world to clean energy, and co-founded The Solutions Project (

How did you get to become an expert in the future of energy?

My career goal, ever since I was a teenager in the early 1980s, was to understand and solve large-scale air pollution and climate problems. For the first ten years of my research career, from 1989-1999 (during my PhD from 1989-1994 and my first years as a professor at Stanford University, starting in 1994), I only studied the problems through the development and application of computer codes to simulated air pollution, weather, and climate. However, in 1999, I started working on solutions together with the problems. I simulated the impacts of different energy technologies on pollution and climate, and evaluated with my students, wind energy resources. This culminated in a review paper in 2009 where I evaluated different energy technologies that had been proposed to solve the climate and pollution problems. Dr. Mark Delucchi and I then wrote a paper in 2009 evaluating whether it was technically and economically possible to power the world for all energy purposes with the highest-ranked of these technologies, namely wind, water, and solar power. The conclusions was that it was possible but social and political barriers existed. Since then, we have been refining our solutions to the country, state, city, and town level and looking at grid stability.

What areas of the future of energy are you most passionate about?

  • Transitioning homes, towns, cities, states, and countries to 100% clean, renewable energy and storage for all purposes.
  • Eliminating air pollution and climate problems with clean and renewable energy.
  • Understanding better the impacts of different technologies on the atmosphere.

Which future of energy influencers influence you?

Outside of the future of energy who else influences you?

  • Prof. Brian Toon (U. Colorado) – Atmospheric modeling
  • Bill Nye – reaching millions through science and clear communication
  • Tesla – for its focus on and bringing to the masses pure electric vehicles
  • Al Gore – passion in communicating the climate problem.
  • Bill McKibben – passion in communicating the climate problem

How would you describe your offline influence?

I teach and advise students, write scientific papers, speak in lots of forums (conferences, workshops, seminars, in documentaries).

What are going to be the key developments in the industry in the next 12 months?

Expansion of floating offshore wind turbines and offshore solar.

If a brand wanted to work with you, what activities would you be most interested in collaborating on?

Webinars, speaking opportunities

What would be the best way for a brand to contact you?