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Berkeley Lab Researchers to Provide Leadership and Expertise in Net Zero World Action Center

Net Zero World Action Center will provide strategies to accelerate global energy decarbonization

The Net Zero World Action Center will support design and implementation of integrated energy system measures that help transition to net zero energy systems across sectors. (Credit: iStock/Galeanu Mihai)

– By Kiran Julin

Experts from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) will play leading managerial and technical roles in the recently established Net Zero World Action Center to bolster DOE’s Net Zero World Initiative (NZWI). The NZW Action Center brings together 10 DOE national laboratories, nine U.S. government agencies, and philanthropy organizations to promote net zero emission energy systems around the world that are inclusive, equitable, and resilient. 

The NZW Initiative is a cornerstone of the U.S. commitment to accelerate the pace of global decarbonization. Launched in 2021 by DOE Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, the initiative contributes to the Build Back Better World Partnership. The NZW Action Center will focus on transitioning to net zero energy systems across multiple sectors, including transportation, industry, buildings, carbon capture and geologic storage, energy storage, and the power grid. 

Berkeley Lab’s Energy Technologies Area (ETA) has a long history of working on energy technology research and development that has real world impact on decarbonization across sectors. ETA’s experts will take on key roles in the NZW Action Center and bring a wealth of energy efficiency and greenhouse gas mitigation research experience.

ETA’s Building Technology & Urban Systems (BTUS) division director Mary Ann Piette serves as Lab Lead for NZWI, senior scientist Nan Zhou serves as Technical Program Manager, and BTUS program manager Carolyn Szum serves as Investment Program Deputy Manager to the NZW Action Center. In addition, Berkeley Lab program managers Reshma Singh and Stephane de la Rue du Can serve as the India Country Co-Coordinator and the South Africa Country Coordinator respectively. 

From developing methods and tools to support countries in NZW on investment plans and analyzing infrastructure investment decisions to providing access to existing equitable clean energy transition tools, the NZW Action Center will provide technical strategies, and operational and communication resources. 

“The international decarbonization agenda is critical and urgent,” said Piette. “Berkeley Lab researchers are eager to engage, collaborate with governments and the private sector, and support this broad multi-sector, multi-country program.”

As BTUS division director and lead of the new California Load Flexibility Research and Deployment Hub, Piette brings extensive research and leadership experience to the NZW Action Center. She oversees Berkeley Lab’s building technology research activities for DOE, which covers appliance standards, technology analysis and tools to accelerate deployment, new building technologies, modeling and analysis, commercial and residential building systems integration, grid interactive communications, and integration with EVs, storage and PVs. 

“As Deputy for Investment Services of the Net Zero World Initiative, I will be working in partnership with U.S. federal agencies, businesses, and other partners to mobilize $10 billion in clean energy finance by 2024 to accelerate energy system decarbonization in partner countries,” said Szum, who brings substantial experience working on energy efficiency market transformation initiatives, with a specialized focus on buildings and climate finance, for ICF (Inner City Fund) and U.S. Agency for International Development.

DOE’s national labs and partners from other U.S. government agencies offer numerous existing tools, methods, and best practices that will inform the approach in each NZW country. The tools span numerous applications, including mapping tools that can assist with energy justice and decarbonization, climate vulnerability tools such as Berkeley Lab’s heat vulnerability index that identifies populations vulnerable to extreme heat, and economic tools such as Berkeley Lab’s solar impacts on energy burden that analyzes how solar could reduce energy burden on low-income households. 

“I am excited to work on the best-in-class tools, services, and technologies offered by DOE’s national labs, their partners, and across U.S. government agencies to help NZW countries achieve carbon neutrality and equitable clean energy transition,” said Zhou, who will lead world class experts from 10 national labs covering eight sectors, including system-wide, industry, building, transport, power and storage, cross-cutting technologies, nuclear, agriculture, and energy justice. The team will work to deploy technical solutions to the NZW countries, including Argentina, Chile, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Ukraine.

In addition to Berkeley Lab, DOE’s national labs working on NZW include the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, National Energy Technology Laboratory, and Brookhaven National Laboratory.

NZW is a public-private partnership with funding from DOE as well as other government and philanthropic organizations.

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Founded in 1931 on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been recognized with 14 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the Lab’s facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit energy.gov/science.