Donors Build Alt Energy Institute at Stanford

John Davis

precourtOne hundred million dollars has been donated to Stanford University for a new energy institute to find environmentally friendly energy sources.

This article from Reuters says half of the money is coming from an oil executive… interesting, since the intent of the institute is to make renewable energy cheaper than petroleum:

The new Precourt Institute for Energy is named after Jay Precourt, an oil executive who donated $50 million. Another $40 million came from Thomas Steyer and his wife Kat Taylor. Steyer is a Stanford trustee and managing partner of Farallon Capital Management.

The remaining $10 million was donated by Douglas Kimmelman, of Energy Capital Partners, Michael Ruffatto, the president of North American Power Group, Ltd, and Google (GOOG.O) Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, through the Schmidt Family Foundation.

The institute will create seven to eight new faculty positions, fellowships for graduate students and postdocs, and improve undergraduate and graduate energy curricula. The institute will also operate as a sort of venture capitalist, making seed money available for new ideas.

Precourt said in a statement he was concerned “we are importing energy from insecure, unreliable sources who are, in many cases, not friends of the United States.” The United States imports 70 percent of the oil it consumes.

Part of the problem is economics. Taylor said that alternative fuels would be more attractive if the “real price of gas were included in our market, for example environmental damage, foreign policy implications (and) foreign wars.”

This new institute will combine its efforts with the Stanford Global Climate and Energy project, a program that tries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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