ENGINEERING NEWS

Microgrids Symposium to Explore Renewable Energy for Sustainable Development

The day-long event will take place on Tuesday, April 10

Photo credit: EarthSpark InternationalPhoto credit: EarthSpark International

Many people may not know it, but tens of thousands of microgrids are currently online around the world. When powered by renewable energy sources, these autonomous energy systems can play a significant role in providing sustainable, independent energy access to millions of people.

While the growing use of microgrid technology suggests the potential to become more affordable, scalable, and reliable in the future, economic and technical barriers have limited renewable energy microgrid installations in developing countries, where human development needs are most critical and infrastructure investment is most difficult.

Leaders in technology, economics, and policy will visit Northwestern next month to assess current challenges to microgrid development and discuss opportunities to overcome them. Co-hosted by Northwestern Engineering, the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO), and the Buffett Institute for Global Studies, “Symposium on Microgrids: Renewable Energy Microgrids for Sustainable Development” will take place from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, April 10 at Northwestern’s James L. Allen Center.

Admission is free and open to the public, but registration is required. A reception will follow the symposium’s closing remarks.

The day-long event will be highlighted by keynote presentations from Chris Marnay, principal at Microgrid Design of Mendocino, LLC, who will discuss the growing microgrid revolution during the symposium’s morning keynote. Hannah Daly, energy analyst and energy access lead at the International Energy Agency (IEA), will deliver the afternoon keynote with a presentation on how decentralized energy sources like microgrids can help make energy available to all by the year 2030.

The symposium will also feature speakers and panelists from academia, industry, and government. In addition to Marnay and Daly, guests will include:


  • Fiona Burlig, postdoctoral scholar, University of Chicago
  • Kelly Carlin, senior associate, Rocky Mountain Institute
  • Amglad Elgowainy, principal energy systems analyst and life-cycle analysis team lead, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Jorge Elizondo, lead engineer, Heila Technologies
  • Sossina Haile, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, professor of applied physics, Northwestern University
  • Mark Hersam, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, professor of materials science and engineering; director, Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), Northwestern University
  • Ben Kroposki, center director, Power Systems Engineering Center, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
  • Vijay Modi, professor of mechanical engineering, Columbia University
  • Jay Taneja, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Stephen Walls, energy transition initiative program lead, US Department of Energy
  • Craig Wooster, general contractor and project manager, Stone Edge Farm MicroGrid Project
  • Sera Young, assistant professor, Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University 

Register for the symposium.