Arun Majumdar, shown here at the TEDx MidAtlantic 2011 conference, believes advances in science and engineering are vital to meet global energy challenges. Credit: The Q on Flickr (Creative Commons LIcense).

Look no further than a simple Google search to reveal the numerous energy challenges we (globally speaking) face—but the search for solutions is not quite so easily discovered.

Not so, says one of the Web company’s top officials, who believes many of those solutions lie in the work being done in science and engineering communities.

In speaking to a packed house at an Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Distinguished Lecture, Arun Majumdar, Google’s vice president of energy, discussed the challenges that will arise as the world’s population continues to expand in regions where the ability to produce affordable and reliable energy is limited or nonexistent.

“I really think we should think globally as to how to get economic development in regions that don’t have access to energy the way we do,” Majumdar says in an ORNL news release. “Maybe the solutions are not the ones we use. Maybe they don’t need a 300-horsepower car, but how to get access to affordable electricity and fuel. It is an opportunity to try a better way.”

According to Majumdar, national laboratories like ORNL—which are tasked with creating real, long-term solutions to equally real, long-term challenges—play a critical part in finding that better way.

“The national labs also have this cadre of scientists and engineers who—if they are directed in the right way to solve some of these problems—could be hugely helpful to our industry, our business, and to U.S. competitiveness,” he says.

Majumdar is a materials scientist and former head of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory.

Feature Image Credit: kool_skatkat on Flickr (Creative Commons License).