Varun Sivaram

Varun Sivaram is Senior Advisor to the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John F. Kerry. A physicist and clean energy technology expert, he has worked in the corporate, academic, and policy sectors. He has previously served as Chief Technology Officer of ReNew Power, a multibillion-dollar renewable-energy firm that is India's largest, Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University's SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy, Director of the energy and climate program at the Council on Foreign Relations, Senior Energy Advisor to the Mayor of Los Angeles and the Governor of New York, Professor at Georgetown University, Director at Peridot Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: PDAC), and Consultant at McKinsey & Co. He has served as a board member for Stanford University's Energy and Environment Institutes, as a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Future Council for the Energy Transition, and as one of the 25 advisors to the UN COP26 climate conference in 2021. His books include Energizing America, and Digital Decarbonization. He was named one of the TIME 100 Next Hundred Most Influential People in the World.

  • Taming the Sun

    Taming the Sun

    Innovations to Harness Solar Energy and Power the Planet

    Varun Sivaram

    How solar could spark a clean-energy transition through transformative innovation—creative financing, revolutionary technologies, and flexible energy systems.

    Solar energy, once a niche application for a limited market, has become the cheapest and fastest-growing power source on earth. What's more, its potential is nearly limitless—every hour the sun beams down more energy than the world uses in a year. But in Taming the Sun, energy expert Varun Sivaram warns that the world is not yet equipped to harness erratic sunshine to meet most of its energy needs. And if solar's current surge peters out, prospects for replacing fossil fuels and averting catastrophic climate change will dim.

    Innovation can brighten those prospects, Sivaram explains, drawing on firsthand experience and original research spanning science, business, and government. Financial innovation is already enticing deep-pocketed investors to fund solar projects around the world, from the sunniest deserts to the poorest villages. Technological innovation could replace today's solar panels with coatings as cheap as paint and employ artificial photosynthesis to store intermittent sunshine as convenient fuels. And systemic innovation could add flexibility to the world's power grids and other energy systems so they can dependably channel the sun's unreliable energy.

    Unleashing all this innovation will require visionary public policy: funding researchers developing next-generation solar technologies, refashioning energy systems and economic markets, and putting together a diverse clean energy portfolio. Although solar can't power the planet by itself, it can be the centerpiece of a global clean energy revolution.

    A Council on Foreign Relations Book

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