IEA Executive Director Receives Carnot Prize

Penn Creates Paris Fellowship in His Honor

Philadelphia, PA—Today the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design awarded its second annual Carnot Prize to Dr. Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA). Birol received this prize for his distinguished contributions to energy policy a day after the release of IEA’s World Energy Outlook, a leading source of energy market analysis and projections.

“I am extremely honored by this distinction, which celebrates a forefather of the energy revolution, a mathematician and scientist—Nicolas Sadi Carnot,” said Birol. “Carnot’s work has helped improve our understanding of energy efficiency, a topic to which we are very much attached at the IEA.”

“We honor Fatih Birol for guiding the complex and politically-fraught process of global collaboration on energy policy,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “Dr. Birol is steadily advancing inclusivity and equity by expanding the IEA’s role beyond primarily ‘first-world’ interests to encompass a much broader global community.” 

At the award ceremony, Gutmann announced a new graduate student fellowship program at IEA headquarters in Paris, named in honor of Birol, which will provide new opportunities for a rising generation of Penn-educated leaders.

“It’s a special pleasure to be in the company of Penn students who will be the future leaders of our industry,” said Birol.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz gave personal remarks praising Birol in a recorded video presentation. In a policy lecture, Birol addressed the audience on his transformative vision of the IEA as a global body leading complex energy transitions, and shared his deep understanding of and commitment to the challenges of inclusion and equity.

“Fatih Birol perfectly embodies the ideals of the Carnot Prize. He is a distinguished scholar who brings insight, enthusiasm, and charisma to bear on the enormous challenges facing the global energy and climate systems,” said PennDesign Dean and Paley Professor Frederick Steiner.

“We could not be more honored to induct Dr. Birol into the Kleinman Center’s cadre of Carnot Prize recipients. His leadership at the IEA is proving critical to the future of the energy sector,” said Faculty Director and Professor Mark Alan Hughes.

In addition to the award ceremony, Birol also directed a morning briefing session at the Kleinman Center with students, faculty, and journalists—sharing highlights and insights from this year’s World Energy Outlook. He was also the featured guest on Knowledge@Wharton, a live, call-in radio show.

Birol announced that his $25,000 in prize money would go toward IEA’s efforts working with the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), a high-level global forum that works to advance clean energy. Specifically, IEA will help support CEM’s Women in Clean Energy initiative.

About Dr. Fatih Birol: Birol is an economist who has been the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) since September 1, 2015. He is also the founder and chair of the IEA Energy Business Council, which provides a forum to enhance cooperation between government and industry. He previously served as the chief economist and director of Global Energy Economics at the IEA in Paris.

Birol has been named by Forbes magazine as one of the most powerful influencers in the world’s energy scene. He is the chairman of the World Economic Forum’s (Davos) Energy Advisory Board and has served as a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Group on Sustainable Energy for All. He is the recipient of numerous awards from government and industry for his contribution to energy and climate economics.

Prior to joining the IEA in 1995, Dr. Birol worked at the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna. A Turkish citizen, Dr. Birol was born in Ankara in 1958. He earned a B.Sc. degree in power engineering from the Technical University of Istanbul. He received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in energy economics from the Technical University of Vienna. In 2013, Dr. Birol was awarded a Doctorate of Science honoris causa by Imperial College London. He was made an honorary life member of Galatasaray Football Club in 2013.

About the Carnot Prize: The Carnot Prize is named in memory of French scientist Sadi Carnot, who in 1824 published Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire, which is now recognized as the first statement of what is now known as the second law of thermodynamics. Carnot recognized that the power of the steam engine would “produce a great revolution” in human development. The Carnot Prize is intended to honor those leading revolutions in energy policy to further progress and prosperity. 

About the Kleinman Center: The Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania cultivates energy policy innovation and promotes its application—creating opportunities for students, researchers, and professionals to debate viewpoints, explore options, and develop agendas for decision and action.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Lindsey Samahon
Kleinman Center for Energy Policy
University of Pennsylvania 
(484) 362-8316