$5 million Gift to Help Support US-China Clean Energy Center at Berkeley Lab

CHina clean energy
Heavy air pollution has resulted in widespread smog. These photographs, taken in August 2005, show the variations in Beijing's air quality.

In 2015, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley announced a partnership with Tsinghua University in Beijing. They formed the Berkeley Tsinghua Joint Research Center on Energy and Climate Change, a center helping to develop scientifically based clean energy solutions and the next generation of leaders to champion those solutions.

That effort has now received support from Jim and Marilyn Simons in the amount of a $5 million donation.

The core activity of the Berkeley-Tsinghua Center focuses on its scientific research and analysis on clean energy solutions for China, on areas such as low-carbon cities, carbon markets, and clean energy system planning and integration.

“It’s with generous private funders like the Simons that research from the Berkeley-Tsinghua Center can continue,” said Berkeley Lab Director Michael Witherell. “Their support also allows us to recognize talented researchers and analysts.”

In addition to the support for the Center, $2 million of the Simons gift will go towards creating the first endowed chair at Berkeley Lab, the Nat Simons Chair in China Energy Policy. An additional $500,000 will come from UC President Janet Napolitano and her Presidential Match for Endowed Chairs program.

“Two years ago I made a commitment to create 100 new endowed chairs across the UC campuses and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “I’m pleased to help support the new Nat Simons Chair and look forward to assisting more deserving researchers at Berkeley Lab.”

The inaugural holder will be the Lab’s Jiang Lin. Lin is a Staff Scientist with Berkeley Lab’s China Energy Group whose research is focused on energy and climate policy issues in China. He is also a co-leader of the Berkeley-Tsinghua Joint Research Center and was previously director of the Energy Foundation’s China Sustainable Energy Program.

In addition to the endowed Chair, the Center will create a Chern-Simons Fellows program, in partnership with the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program of the College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley, for emerging decision and policy makers on energy issues in Chinese agencies, corporations, and academic centers.

The remaining $2.5 million of the gift from Jim and Marilyn Simons will be allocated as a Challenge Grant to generate contributions from other donors for a new Simons China Energy Policy Fund at Berkeley Lab that will provide ongoing support for the Berkeley-Tsinghua Center.

“We are very pleased to support the Berkeley-Tsinghua Joint Research Center on Energy and Climate Change in its mission to drive ambitious clean energy and climate change mitigation policy,” said Marilyn Simons.

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The Berkeley Lab Foundation received the Simons gift and will direct the funds to Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley.

Image credit: By Bobak – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2190112

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