Collaborating for Change: How Interest Drives the Quest for Sustainable Energy

When we started spreading the word about an upcoming Critical Minerals Town Hall in early December last year, we weren’t sure how many people might be interested in participating. Or what topics would resonate. Or the paths that might emerge from the conversations and momentum the event would inspire.

Yet attendance well exceeded our expectations, indicating a collective hunger. Attendees and participants alike want to understand more about the wide reach and impact of one topic that has a direct influence on where we will be able to go in the years ahead with low-carbon energy production and several other areas vital to our communities and economy.

This event, which featured lightning talks and breakout rooms, alongside INL and UAMMI representatives sharing their insights, was part of a collaboration between the University of Utah and the University of Wyoming.

Collaboration is a key word here. Both of our universities are involved in EMA and the Frontiers initiatives. The growing intersections of our independent work and insights cannot be understated. We are all doing amazing, impactful work on our own but when EMA provides the opportunity and platform to share these insights and connect our expertise, the possibilities continue to grow. As we delve into the hard work of transforming energy landscapes, our partnership with EMA stands as a pivotal chapter in our collective journey.

At the University of Utah, and our Energy Futures Research Engine, our focus centers around leveraging interdisciplinary strengths to tackle the complex challenges of today’s energy sector. This approach is not just about advancing research; it’s about ensuring these advancements lead to practical, scalable solutions that benefit all sectors of society. Through our work, we explore new frontiers in solar energy, critical minerals, and decarbonization, aligning closely with EMA’s commitment to a sustainable energy future.

The significance of our collaborative efforts with EMA extends beyond the immediate horizon. It’s about preparing the workforce of tomorrow, engaging communities in meaningful dialogue, and setting new standards for environmental responsibility. Our initiatives in solar energy projects and critical minerals research exemplify this commitment, offering a glimpse into the potential for sustainable energy practices that can drive economic growth while preserving our planet.

It is also about capitalizing on the momentum and interest from a singular topic with so many pathways in early December. Today we are having conversations about future opportunities to engage our students and future workforce to demonstrate where they can make an impact and build a career.

We’re also leveraging the success of Atlantic Council events in Wyoming and Alaska to foster significant discussions in Utah later this year, aimed at highlighting emerging energy opportunities in the region. We’re focusing on the synergies between INL’s Frontiers initiatives and states like Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Alaska. Our goal is to feature high-level speakers from the state of Utah, the University of Utah, and other key stakeholders to delve into decarbonization, critical minerals development, workforce challenges, and sustainability advancement in the energy sector. These discussions, informed by Utah’s diverse projects in solar energy, critical materials, and collaboration, will contribute to the dialogue on economic and technical transitions in the Intermountain West as we move towards cleaner energy sources. It’s another step in fostering regional partnerships on energy innovation and development, aimed at uniting diverse perspectives towards a shared goal.

Let’s continue to seize these opportunities to collaborate, shaping the energy sector’s evolution into one that fulfills the needs of everyone in the years and decades ahead.