In 2020, the Weldon Cooper Center launched the Energy Transition Initiative (ETI) to provide research and support for the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which mandates that Virginia be free of carbon emissions by 2050. ETI provides support in two important ways:

  1. Conducting high quality research to inform policy and decision-making
  2. Providing research-based resources, tools, and guidance for Virginia localities through the Virginia Solar Initiative

Addressing the threat of climate change will require profound changes in our energy systems: a shift away from fossil fuels and towards renewables and other zero-carbon sources. The Energy Transition Initiative at the University of Virginia is dedicated to helping policy makers and other stakeholders navigate this challenge. The Energy Transition Initiative brings together experts in economics, policy, planning, and energy systems from the Weldon Cooper Center, Virginia Solar Initiative, Virginia Clean Energy Project, and other units at the University of Virginia. 

We focus on three main avenues to provide this support:

  1. Identifying pathways to a net-zero-carbon energy sector by 2050;
  2. Identifying roadblocks and reducing barriers to achieve these pathways;
  3. Serving as conveners to promote informed, engaged, and inclusive decision-making.

We advance these goals by researching clean energy and sustainability practices; by developing and maintaining tools to help localities understand the process, costs, and benefits of adopting cleaner energy technologies;  and by engaging directly with policymakers, energy providers, entrepreneurs, consumers, and other interested stakeholders to smooth the transition to a sustainable energy economy.

Bill Shobe

“The Cooper Center’s Energy Transition Initiative was established to support Virginia’s decarbonization efforts. Virginia has jumped into a leadership role in the U.S. by committing to eliminating CO2 emissions from electricity generation by 2050. Along with other efforts at UVA, such as the Environmental Resilience Institute, the Environmental Law Clinic, the Global Water Initiative, we want to bring world-class expertise to bear on solving these critical, international environmental problems.”


Bill Shobe, Director
Energy Transition Initiative &
the Center for Economic and Policy Studies

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You can learn more about our work by viewing our two main projects:

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