Varun Sivaram is a physicist, bestselling author, and clean energy technology expert with experience spanning the corporate, public, and academic sectors. He currently serves as Senior Adviser to the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. Prior to joining the Climate Envoy, he was the chief technology officer of ReNew Power, where he led research and development for a multibillion-dollar company recognized as India’s largest producer of renewable energy as well as its most innovative energy company; his corporate experience also includes consulting for McKinsey & Co’s energy practice. Sivaram has also shaped government policies supportive of innovation as the director of the energy and climate program at the Council on Foreign Relations and as a senior energy advisor to the Los Angeles mayor and New York governor’s office. A widely published scientist and innovation scholar, he is an adjunct senior research scholar at Columbia University’s energy policy center, serves on the boards of Stanford University’s energy and environment institutes, and created the course “Clean Energy Innovation” as a Georgetown University professor to train the next generation of energy leaders.
He is the author of the bestselling book, Taming the Sun: Innovations to Harness Solar Energy and Power the Planet (MIT Press, 2018), which the Financial Times called “the best available overview of where the solar industry finds itself today, and a road map for how it can reach a brighter future.” He is also the editor of the book, Digital Decarbonization: Promoting Digital Innovations to Advance Clean Energy Systems (CFR Press, 2018). Bill Gates has praised his work as “one of the best arguments I’ve read for why the US should invest in a clean energy revolution.”
Dr. Sivaram’s work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Energy Policy, the Journal of Applied Physics, the Journal of Physical Chemistry, Nature, Nature Energy, Nature Climate Change, Joule, Scientific American, MIT Tech Review, and Issues in Science and Technology. He has also given talks around the world, including at TED, the Aspen Ideas Festival, SXSW, IHS CERAWeek, and the World Economic Forum. TIME Magazine named him to its inaugural TIME 100 Next list of the next 100 most influential people in the world, Forbes Magazine called him one of the 30 under 30 in Law and Policy, Grist selected him as one of the top 50 leaders in sustainability, and PV Magazine named him the “Hamilton of the Solar Industry.”
A Rhodes and a Truman scholar, he holds a PhD in condensed matter physics from St. John’s College, Oxford University, where he developed third-generation solar photovoltaic coatings. He also holds degrees from Stanford University in engineering physics and international relations, with honors in international security.