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Exploring the Future of Energy

Nobel Week Dialogue 2013

The Nobel Week Dialogue, visiting Gothenburg for the first time, provided an opportunity for discussions that cross the traditional boundaries between science and society.

During the annual Nobel Week, held early each December, the current year's Nobel Laureates participate in a whirlwind of events and activities leading up to 10 December, when they receive their Nobel Prizes and attend the Nobel Banquet. In 2012, the roster of activities in Stockholm expanded to include a brand new element: the Nobel Week Dialogue, a day of lectures and panel discussions scheduled for 9 December. This year the meeting moved to Gothenburg, and future meetings will alternate annually between Gothenburg and Stockholm, to spread the opportunities afforded by Nobel Week across regional boundaries.

The 2013 Nobel Week Dialogue was dedicated to Exploring the Future of Energy. This event aimed to bring together a unique collection of thinkers from a range of disciplines – Nobel Laureates, world-leading scientists, policy makers and industry leaders – to discuss the issues that affect us all.

Few challenges can be considered truly global in their impact, but establishing a safe and secure energy future is one that impacts everyone. Against a backdrop of dwindling natural resources, this meeting will ask what society needs now and for the coming generations, and will consider the on-going contribution that science can offer. The Nobel Week Dialogue aimed to bridge the gap between research and its societal impact – without which, the promise of new energy technologies cannot be fully realised. The event will deepen the dialogue between thought leaders from science and society on this global issue.

What role can renewable energy resources play in our future? What impact can the individual have? How can science meet the challenge? The Nobel Week Dialogue was created to provide a forum for just such issues. The event was free to attend, and the sessions were filmed and streamed live to a worldwide audience, with 80 countries viewing the event!

The topic of Energy was particular appropriate in 2013, with the occurrence of three significant anniversaries which underpin energy research. In 2013, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the publication of the Model of the Atom by Niels Bohr; a discovery often described as perhaps the single most important event in the development of quantum physics, which itself describes many processes, including solar energy capture. Also in 1913, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Heike Kamerlingh Onnes for the liquification of Helium-3 and the discovery of superconductivity; a breakthrough that, even now, is finding application in novel energy storage and transport systems. And lastly, 2013 marks the 75th anniversary of the award of the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics to Enrico Fermi for his work on slow-neutron nuclear reactions, work which underpins the development of nuclear power. The connection between fundamental scientific discoveries and society's production and use of energy lie at the heart of the meeting, and will form some of the many strands running through the day's discussions.

The 2013 Nobel Week Dialogue opened with a morning session of plenary talks, introducing the theme of energy from scientific and societal perspectives. After a series of lunchtime breakout sessions, the meeting continued with four parallel panel events, each exploring one of the many aspects of the topic of energy. Audience members (both present and online) could choose whichever discussion streams interested them most.

Dialogue lay at the heart of the afternoon discussions – dialogue between the featured panellists, between the audience and the panellists, and between the members of the audience. And so all participants, including those present or those following the proceedings online, were invited to engage in the conversations throughout.

Videos from the Meeting

Morning Plenary Session 1

Introductions to Morning Plenary Session 1:
- Welcome and opening remarks
- Anna-Karin Hatt: The challenge of our energy future - our window of opportunity
- Fatih Birol: Overview of emerging energy challenges
- Carl-Henric Svanberg: Energy scenarios and timescales

Panel Discussion:
Assessing current energy outlooks
Panellists: Fatih Birol, Anna-Karin Hatt, Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Rajendra Pachauri and Christof Rühl
Moderator: Chris Llewellyn Smith

Günther Oettinger: The EU's energy policy: an enabler to meet current and future challenges

Morning Plenary Session 2

Introductions to Morning Plenary Session 2:
- Hans Vestberg: Enabling transformative change in the Networked Society
- Richenda Van Leeuwen: Towards achieving universal energy access
- David Gross: Three Nobel anniversaries – the case for basic science

Panel Discussion:
The unexpected contributions of curiosity
Panellists: Steven Chu, David Gross, Alan Heeger, Hartmut Michel, Mario Molina and Carlo Rubbia
Moderator: Robbert Dijkgraaf

Steven Chu - Necessity as the mother of invention and the sustainable energy challenge

Lunchtime Event

Lunchtime Event:
Panellists in Conversation
Panellists: Steven Chu, Robbert Dijkgraaf, Johan Rockström and Richenda Van Leeuwen
Chair: Johanna Koljonen

Afternoon Parallel Discussions

Afternoon Discussion Panel 1A:
The promised land of renewable energy: where can the science take us, and how do we get there?
Panellists: Steven Chu, David Gross, Alan Heeger, Hartmut Michel and Elisabeth Rachlew
Moderator: David MacKay

Afternoon Discussion Panel 1B:
How do we meet the challenge of providing access to energy for all?
Panellists: Fatih Birol, David MacKay, Richenda Van Leeuwen and Elaine Weidman-Grunewald
Moderator: Adam Smith

Afternoon Discussion Panel 2A:
The changing landscape of fossil fuel dependence: where are we going?
Panellists: Lennart Bengtsson, Fatih Birol, Shuli Hu, Mario Molina, Nebojsa Nakicenovic, and Christof Rühl
Moderator: Chris Llewellyn Smith

Afternoon Discussion Panel 2B:
Our changing climate: how can we balance energy demand with sustainability?

Panellists: Lennart Bengtsson, Mario Molina, Nebojsa Nakicenovic and Rajendra Pachauri
Moderator: Semida Silveira

Afternoon Discussion Panel 3A:
Smaller footprints: how can we reduce our energy usage?
Panellists: David Awschalom, Pam Fredman, Anneli Hulthén, Johan Rockström, Semida Silveira and Jan-Eric Sundgren
Moderator: Elaine Weidman-Grunewald

Afternoon Discussion Panel 3B:
What is the future for nuclear power?
Panellists: Steven Chu, Robbert Dijkgraaf, Elisabeth Rachlew and Carlo Rubbia
Moderator: Chris Llewellyn Smith

Concluding Plenary Session

Introduction to Concluding Session:
Olof Persson - Envisioning future transport systems

Concluding Panel Discussion:
A transformed world? Mapping scenarios for our energy future(s)
Panellists: Fatih Birol, Steven Chu, Karin Markides, Johan Rockström and Semida Silveira
Moderator: Adam Smith


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MLA style: "Nobel Week Dialogue 2013: Exploring the Future of Energy". Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 19 Jun 2018. <>