Varun Sivaram

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Varun Sivaram
Varun Sivaram.jpg
Varun Sivaram in 2018
Varun Srinivasan Sivaram

1989 (age 29–30)
CitizenshipUnited States
EducationSaratoga High School
Alma mater
AwardsRhodes Scholarship
Scientific career
InstitutionsReNew Power
McKinsey & Company
Council on Foreign Relations
ThesisSimulation, synthesis, sunlight: enhancing electronic transport in solid-state dye-sensitized solar cells (2014)
Doctoral advisorHenry Snaith[1]

Varun Srinivasan Sivaram (born 1989) is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of ReNew Power, India's largest renewable energy company.[2][3] He was previously the Philip D. Reed fellow for science and technology at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a nonpartisan foreign-policy think tank and membership organization, and director of its Program on Energy Security and Climate Change.[4] He is an expert on clean energy technology, climate change, and sustainable urbanization.[5]


Dr. Sivaram holds a B.S. in engineering physics and a B.A. in international relations from Stanford University, where he was awarded a Truman Scholarship. He also holds a PhD in condensed matter physics from the University of Oxford, St. John's College,[1] where he was a Rhodes Scholar. While at Oxford, his research investigated the use of perovskite solar cells and was supervised by Henry Snaith.[1][6]

Career and research[edit]

Sivaram was previously the senior advisor for energy and water policy to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, a strategic advisor to the office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on energy policy, an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, and a consultant for McKinsey & Co.[7] Sivaram is currently a fellow at Columbia University's Center for Global Energy Policy, and an advisory board member for the Stanford University Woods Institute for the Environment and Precourt Institute for Energy.[6]


Sivaram is the author of Taming the Sun: Innovations to Harness Solar Energy and Power the Planet.[8] Taming the Sun explores the potential of solar energy, the world's cheapest and fastest-growing power source, to one day supply most of the world's energy needs. Sivaram argues, however, that solar's current surge is on track to stall, dimming prospects for averting catastrophic climate change. Brightening those prospects, he concludes, will require innovation—creative financing, revolutionary technologies, and flexible energy systems.

Sivaram is the editor of Digital Decarbonization: Promoting Digital Innovations to Advance Clean Energy Systems [9] The volume brings together fourteen expert authors who lay out a wide range of areas in which digital technologies are promoting clean energy systems; caution about serious risks of digitalization to cybersecurity and privacy; and articulate actionable recommendations for policymakers in the United States and abroad to ensure that digital innovations help advance the fight against climate change.

Sivaram is a co-author with Sagatom Saha of a chapter in The Geopolitics of Renewables[10] In it, Sivaram and Saha argue that a future in which clean energy substantially displaces fossil fuels could substantially affect the economic and national security interests of the United States by fostering both international cooperation and discord.


Bill Gates has called Sivaram's 2016 essay on clean energy innovation in Foreign Affairs magazine "One of the best arguments I've read for why the U.S. should invest in an energy revolution."[11] The Financial Times called his book Taming the Sun "the best available overview of where the industry finds itself today, and a road map for how it can reach that brighter future," and The Economist called it "prescient...and readable."[12] Forbes named him to its 30 under 30 in Law and Policy; Grist named him one of its top 50 leaders in sustainability; and PV Magazine called him "The Hamilton of the Solar Industry."[6][13]


  • Taming the Sun: Innovations to Harness Solar Energy and Power the Planet[8]
  • Digital Decarbonization: Promoting Digital Innovations to Advance Clean Energy Systems (Council on Foreign Relations Press, June 2018 ISBN 9780876097489)
  • "The Geopolitical Implications of a Clean Energy Future from the Perspective of the United States," in Scholten, Dan (ed.), The Geopolitics of Renewables (Springer, January 2018 ISBN 978-3-319-67854-2).
  • Solar Energy Is At Risk,” Washington Post, April 16, 2018.
  • "How U.S. Tariffs Will Hurt America’s Solar Industry," The New York Times, Jan 24, 2018.
  • "Unlocking Clean Energy." Issues in Science and Technology. Winter 2017.
  • "The Clean Energy Revolution: Fighting Climate Change with Innovation." Foreign Affairs Mar.-Apr. 2016.
  • "Venture Capital and Cleantech: The Wrong Model for Energy Innovation." MIT Energy Institute, 2016.
  • "Clean Energy Technology Investors Need Fresh Support after VC Losses." Financial Times 26 July 2016.
  • "Solar Power Needs a More Ambitious Cost Target"[14]
  • "Outshining Silicon." Scientific American 2015.
  • "Reach for the Sun: How India's Audacious Solar Ambitions Could Make or Break Its Climate Commitments." Stanford University Steyer-Taylor Center on Energy Policy and Finance, 2015.
  • Powering Los Angeles with Renewable Energy[7]
  • Observation of Annealing-Induced Doping in TiO 2 Mesoporous Single Crystals for Use in Solid State Dye Sensitized Solar Cells[15]
  • Critique of Charge Collection Efficiencies Calculated through Small Perturbation Measurements of Dye Sensitized Solar Cells[16]
  • Mesoporous TiO2 Single Crystals Delivering Enhanced Mobility and Optoelectronic Device Performance[17]


  1. ^ a b c Sivaram, Varun (2014). Simulation, synthesis, sunlight: enhancing electronic transport in solid-state dye-sensitized solar cells (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. OCLC 879390655. EThOS Free to read
  2. ^ N, Sushma U.; N, Sushma U. "India's largest renewable power company is set to go public". Quartz India. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  3. ^ "ReNew Power Expands Leadership Team Announces Three Strategic Hires". The Week. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  4. ^ "Varun Sivaram". Forbes. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  5. ^ "Varun Sivaram Curriculum Vitae".
  6. ^ a b c "Columbia | SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy | Dr. Varun Sivaram". Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Villaraigosa, Mayor Antonio R.; Sivaram, Varun; Nichols, Ron (2013). "Powering Los Angeles with renewable energy". Nature Climate Change. 3 (9): 771–775. doi:10.1038/nclimate1985. ISSN 1758-678X.
  8. ^ a b Taming the Sun. MIT Press. 2018. ISBN 9780262037686.
  9. ^ The Digital Revolution Is Transforming Energy—Whether It Slows Climate Change Is Up to Policymakers. Council on Foreign Relations. ISBN 9780876097489. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  10. ^ The Geopolitical Implications of a Clean Energy Future from the Perspective of the United States. Springer. 2018. ISBN 978-3-319-67854-2.
  11. ^ "Bill Gates on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  12. ^ Taming the Sun - CFR Book Page. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  13. ^ "Varun Sivaram: The Hamilton of the solar industry – pv magazine USA". August 2017. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  14. ^ Sivaram, Varun; Kann, Shayle (2016). "Solar power needs a more ambitious cost target". Nature Energy. 1 (4): 16036. doi:10.1038/nenergy.2016.36. ISSN 2058-7546.
  15. ^ Sivaram, Varun; Crossland, Edward J. W.; Leijtens, Tomas; Noel, Nakita K.; Alexander-Webber, Jack; Docampo, Pablo; Snaith, Henry J. (2014). "Observation of Annealing-Induced Doping in TiO2 Mesoporous Single Crystals for Use in Solid State Dye Sensitized Solar Cells". The Journal of Physical Chemistry C. 118 (4): 1821–1827. doi:10.1021/jp410495k. ISSN 1932-7447.
  16. ^ Sivaram, Varun; Kirkpatrick, James; Snaith, Henry (2013). "Critique of charge collection efficiencies calculated through small perturbation measurements of dye sensitized solar cells". Journal of Applied Physics. 113 (6): 063709. doi:10.1063/1.4789966. ISSN 0021-8979.
  17. ^ Crossland, Edward J. W.; Noel, Nakita; Sivaram, Varun; Leijtens, Tomas; Alexander-Webber, Jack A.; Snaith, Henry J. (2013). "Mesoporous TiO2 single crystals delivering enhanced mobility and optoelectronic device performance". Nature. 495 (7440): 215–219. doi:10.1038/nature11936. ISSN 0028-0836.

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