Varun Sivaram

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Varun Sivaram is 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. He is an expert on clean energy technology, climate change, and sustainable urbanization


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 Ph.D. in condensed matter physics from St. John's College, Oxford University,[1] where he was a Rhodes Scholar. While at Oxford, he researched perovskite solar cells under Henry Snaith.[2]


Sivaram was previously the senior advisor for energy and water policy to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, where he oversaw the city's Department of Water and Power, and a consultant for McKinsey & Co.[3] Sivaram is currently 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, 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.[2][4]


Sivaram is the author of Taming the Sun: Innovations to Harness Solar Energy and Power the Planet (MIT University Press, March 2018 ISBN 9780262037686).[2] 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 also co-author with Sagatom Saha of a chapter in The Geopolitics of Renewables (Springer, January 2018 ISBN 978-3-319-67854-2) entitled "The Geopolitical Implications of a Clean Energy Future from the Perspective of the United States." 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."[5] John Kerry called his book Taming the Sun a "must-read look into the limitless potential of an energy source as timeless as the sun that may very well save the earth."[6] 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."[2][7]



  1. ^ Sivaram, Varun (2014). "Simulation, synthesis, sunlight: enhancing electronic transport in solid-state dye-sensitized solar cells". Oxford Research Archive.
  2. ^ a b c d "Varun Sivaram". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  3. ^ Villaraigosa, Mayor Antonio R.; Sivaram, Varun; Nichols, Ron (2013-09-01). "Powering Los Angeles with renewable energy". Nature Climate Change. 3 (9): 771–775. doi:10.1038/nclimate1985. ISSN 1758-678X.
  4. ^ "STIA Adjunct Faculty - School of Foreign Service - Georgetown University". School of Foreign Service - Georgetown University. Retrieved 2016-11-22.
  5. ^ "Bill Gates on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  6. ^ "Taming the Sun - CFR Book Page". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  7. ^ "Varun Sivaram: The Hamilton of the solar industry – pv magazine USA". Retrieved 2018-01-01.