grain bin with solar panel in field

Federal infrastructure and science policies are calling for “moonshot” projects to ensure carbon-free energy infrastructure to combat the anticipated large negative impacts of climate change. Iowa’s abundant wind, bioenergy and solar resources make it a strong player in the emerging green energy landscape. By 2040, Iowa can become a net exporter of energy. Achieving net export status will bring energy independence to Iowa and will attract industries supplying and demanding clean energy. However, to achieve its potential Iowa needs to accelerate research, development, and adoption of low-carbon energy production and storage methods. These technical elements must be coordinated with workforce development, innovation ecosystem, and public policy. The pace and scale of the transition will be significant, amounting to more than 10% of GDP per year combining contributions from transportation, electricity, fuels, industry, construction, agriculture, and building operation sectors.

Combining engineering, data science, public policy, environmental science, and business expertise, we will develop large proposals around the central question: how can R&D, education and outreach, markets, & socio-economic policy shift evolving barriers & attitudes towards adoption of carbon management practices & energy technologies? A number of partner organizations (business, local government, campus partners, agricultural partners) are identified in the proposal that are enthusiastic about guiding and participating in the project. Together, these efforts will position the University of Iowa for future grants, contracts, and leadership roles in the rapid decarbonization transition.

Core Team 

Team PI: Charles Stanier (Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Engineering)



Partner Organizations

State Government

  •  Iowa Economic Development Authority

Energy Companies

  • University of Iowa Energy Collaborative
  • Moxie Solar


  • Practical Farmers of Iowa
  • Iowa Farmer’s Union

Local government

  • Linn County
  • City of Dubuque
  • City of Bloomfield

University of Iowa

  • Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities
  • University of Iowa Office of Sustainability and Environment

Research Questions

  1. Realistic options for low-carbon cost-effective heating of buildings in the upper midwest.
  2. How do residential and commercial property/building/landowners make decisions about solar adoption?
  3. How do behavioral economic principles of decision-making in the presence of uncertainty play out in renewable energy?
  4. How do these issues influence the viability of rural communities?   

Archived Email Updates from Decarb2040

Past Events

Join the Decarb 2040 email list via this short survey.

Hawkeye Decarbonization Summit (April 21 and 22, 2022)

A two day meeting bringing together Decarb2040 partners, the University of Iowa community of researchers, staff and students interested in decarbonization, practitioners, and funding agency representatives to explore the path forward. 


Awards from the Hawkeye Decarbonization Summit

Public Policy Award, for exemplary efforts to decarbonize a community through policies: Linn County, Iowa

“for creating a Renewable Energy Overlay District in the Linn County Zoning ordinance”

Charlie Nichols, of Linn County, with H.S. Udaykumar of the University of Iowa

Community Project Award, for an exemplary energy decarbonization project in a community: City of Iowa City, Iowa

“For enabling electrification of the city’s vehicle fleet and transit buses, and creating free EV charging stations”

Rachel Kilberg, from the City of Iowa City, with HS Udaykumar of the University of Iowa

Green Energy Champion Award, for championing green energy efforts in a community for a long time and having a demonstrable impact on the implementation of clean energy policies and projects: Winneshiek Energy District, Decorah, IA

Andy Johnson, Farmer and Director of Winneshiek Energy District, with HS Udaykumar of the University of Iowa

Green Energy Champion Award, for championing green energy efforts in a community for a long time and having a demonstrable impact on the implementation of clean energy policies and projects: Gina Bell,  Sustainability Manager, City of Dubuque, IA

Community Project Award, for an exemplary energy decarbonization project in a community: City of Dubuque, Iowa

“For enabling electrification of the city’s vehicle fleet”

Kenneth Miller, Dubuque Solid Waste Agency Administrator, with HS Udaykumar of the University of Iowa

Public Policy Award, for exemplary efforts to decarbonize a community through policies: City of Council Bluffs, Iowa

“For codifying Solar Energy Conversion Systems in the city Zoning ordinance”

Decarb 2040 Faculty Member Bodi Vasi- Speaking in the Social Impact of Business Series: "Don't Look Up? Organizational and Individual Responses to the Climate Change" - Seminar (Apr. 15) 

Event Recording

The air quality-energy-climate-water-agriculture nexus in the upper Midwest: Status, trends, and research needs (Feb. 11, 2022)

Presentation by Decarb2040 member Charles Stanier, as part of the Climate/Atmospheric Science & Engineering (CASE) Colloquium Series.

Event Recording

Opportunities through Climate Smart Agriculture (Feb. 9, 2022)

Event Recording


  • Mahdi Al-Kaisi: Emeritus Professor, Department of Agronomy, ISU
  • Alejandro Plastina: Associate Professor, Department of Economoics, ISU
  • Ron Rosmann: Master Farmer, Harlan, IA

Individual farmers, as well as the State of Iowa, stand to benefit from expanding carbon markets and other opportunities related to reducing net carbon dioxide emissions through various management practices.  We will present a question and answer session on the opportunities and barriers to the adoption of climate-friendly farm practices.  The speakers will address topics on:

  • Climate smart agriculture practices and carbon capture
  • Economic opportunities in removing carbon from the atmosphere
  • Lessening CO2 emissions through crop rotations, fertilizer practices, and other cropping and livestock system decisions

On the Front Lines of Energy Storage Deployment (Dec. 8, 2021)

Event Recording

Over the last 15 years, component cost reduction and technology improvements in both wind and solar power have led to a transformation of the US energy sector.  Renewable power has eclipsed coal, and its Levelized Cost of Energy is now competitive with natural gas generation - even without subsidies.  But actually phasing out fossil fuel generation requires a cost-competitive solution to the time- and location-based intermittency of wind and solar generation. Battery energy storage is poised to become a central part of that solution in our race to decarbonization.

But for all the promise of, and need for, Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS), it remains very much an emerging technology.  Not because the battery technology is new, but because of the market fundamentals that drive (and in some cases, hinder) BESS deployment.  In this session, a leading developer of utility- scale BESS will share the front line industry perspective on how BESS are actually integrated into today’s electric grid, what job(s) they do best, and what’s holding them back from broader, faster deployment. Topics will include grid interconnection, the “revenue stack” created by various use cases, BESS development and community response, safety, and supply chain trends.

With an understanding the market fundamentals that drive BESS industry, proponents of decarbonization will be better equipped to champion effective solutions. 

Behavioral and public policy research needs for solar energy (Oct. 27, 2021)

A panel of academic, community, and industry experts presented and discussed evolving research and Iowa case studies on how stakeholders make decisions about adoption of solar at residential and commercial locations. 


Date/Time: Wednesday, Oct. 27 

Missed the event? Click on each speaker to access their slides.

Kickoff with Breakfast - Decarb 2040 - Coffee & Bagels - Positioning Iowa as an energy exporter in the coming age of deep decarbonization 

Come and chat with us about a one-year community building and research effort centered on clean energy.  Light breakfast provided.  We are an interdisciplinary faculty team from Tippie College of Business, Planning & Public Affairs, Geographical and Sustainable Studies, Journalism and Mass Communication, Sociology, and Engineering. We are seeking convergent new research projects to advance clean energy and energy independence in the Midwestern US.  Internal UI funding available for you. 

Date/Time: Friday, Oct. 8 

View the recording of the session here.

Download slides from lead presenter Charles Stanier here

Contact Decarb 2040

Funding Opportunities

Funding results from Pivot*
*must be connected to UI network or VPN

Build environment and energy infrastructure

Bioenergy and fuels

Carbon capture, trading, agriculture, and sequestration