MSFS-640 Energy Policy & Strategy in a Carbon-Constrained World
Spring for 2008-2009
Banks, John
Ebinger, Charles
This course is designed to present students with an introduction to the key issues and challenges confronting government policy-makers and business leaders surrounding global energy now and in the future. The course focuses on the impacts and intersection of emerging but potentially transformational events:
1. forecasts of rising global energy demand, especially for fossil fuels
2. growing concern about the dangers posed to US and global security by global climate change (GCC), and the role of fossil fuels in the energy sector
3. supply-side challenges, especially of non-fossil alternatives, coal, nuclear power, and end-use technologies such as smart meters, green buildings etc., in changing base load power sector growth projections
4. the changing dynamics of international oil and gas markets
5. the importance of the transportation sector, and its potential convergence with electricity and natural gas
6. challenges posed by, and potential impacts of, critical geopolitical regional “hotspots”

Since the First and Second Reports of the UN Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1990 and 1995, the passage of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, the issuance of the IPCC’s Third and Fourth Reports in 2001 and 2007, and the 2008 meeting in Bali, energy has been at the apex of the global debate on how to meet the world’s economic needs, while at the same time protecting the environment. This concern has led to renewed interest in climate neutral technologies using renewable fuels and nuclear power, greater attention to energy efficiency, smart metering, carbon capture and sequestration technologies, greater use of end-use efficiency across all sectors of the economy, and increased use of natural gas.

Nevertheless, despite a growing global consensus on the need to reduce carbon emissions, use of coal proceeds apace with India and China developing new coal-fired power generation at an alarming rate. Simultaneously, the US and other oil importing nations are seeing their economies slip into recession as skyrocketing gasoline and diesel fuel prices threaten the stability of governments around the world, and in some cases have led to a violent backlash. With oil prices surging to well in excess of $100 per barrel in the summer of 2008, traditional military concepts of national and global security have been torn asunder as nations ask what needs to be done to ensure future access to hydrocarbons and whether they will be available at any price. In the US, these events have, after nearly 35 years of energy policy stagnation, emerged as a major issue of public policy debate as the country struggles simultaneously to deal with its energy security and climate change policies. A cornerstone of this debate centers on how to deal with the nation’s high dependency on imported oil, while at the same time reducing the use of carbon-based fuels through a “greening of the grid.”

In addition, a variety of regional energy issues are emerging to play a more critical role in the policy picture, for example: the importance of China and India and their energy policy to handle booming economic development; the role of Russia in the global oil market, European energy security, and inter-relationship with Central Asian oil and gas infrastructure, and; the emergence of several key countries in Latin American and Africa in the global energy industry.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

Course syllabi
The following syllabi may help you learn more about this course (login required):
Spring '09: Banks, J, Ebinger C (file download)
Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.
More information
Look for this course in the schedule of classes.

The academic department web site for this program may provide other details about this course.