SEST-594 Energy and Security
This course will focus on many aspects of the energy and security
nexus. It will begin with an overview of the concept of energy security, its meaning and uses, as well as an overview of some major energy security issues and problems that the world and the US face. This will include some of the basic data, trends, issues and options in oil, gas, electrical, hydropower, alternative energy sources and more. This class will stress energy security issues in the US, but the overall class focus is energy security worldwide.
Energy is at many levels a globalized industry. Oil shortages in China
can affect prices of oil in London within a very short time. It is
also an industry that has a significant amount of government control,
regulation, and ownership. There has been a trend toward deregulation
and privatization in some regions. We will see how this has affected the reliability and security of the energy industry, and how such changes from major policy tacks could affect the overall economy and society. We will see also how important the ownership of oil reserves by national companies can be. We will see how ownership of energy resources, and their concomitant rents and revenues, can sometimes be a curse as well as a blessing.
After the initial broad brush of the energy-security nexus we will begin to drill down into the problems of oil and natural gas (including LNG) security and supply, and then on to electricity supply (with some stress on coal markets and the importance of coal in electricity production), reliability and security in many areas, with some discussion of the Australian and Californian cases of electricity market reform. Then we look into alternative energy sources now and in the potential future. We will then get into the dicey subject of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. We will focus on the issues surrounding the Iranian nuclear program.
Thereupon we shift gears considerably and look at the many connections
between energy and water, such as irrigation, hydropower, and water transport for residential, industrial and commercial uses. The energy-water-food connections, a very important part of the energy-security connection, will also be discussed.
There are significant and contentious environmental issues related to the energy industry. Global warming is just one of them. We will get into many of these issues and the complexities of the systems thinking that connects science, economics, politics, culture and national security. We will also discuss some important security panels and meetings at very high levels by the military and others on these issues.
Starting in class 7 we will drill even further down and look at regional and topical case studies. The areas we will look at are, by class 7. African energy security issues; 8. Saudi Arabia's political economy and national security connections with energy 9. The EU and its energy connections; 10. Russian and Central Asian energy politics, economics and policies; 11. China’s energy security problems; 12. Latin America: politics and energy security; and class 13 will look more into the issues of cooperation and competition in energy security.
The importance of the Middle East will be apparent throughout the class. It will be discussed at many different parts of the class. That is why we do not have a separate section on the Middle East, excepting the classes on the rebuilding of Iraq and the Iranian nuclear-hydrocarbons equations.
A major ongoing theme in the class will be the importance of national oil companies (NOCs) in the energy developments, energy policies, and foreign relations of various countries and regions.
A major ongoing methodology in the class is to look at energy and security as a problem of systems within systems, and the importance of systems within systems thinking to help understand and solve the problems that we face.
Many of the classes will get into the security issues such as terrorism, civil strife, political instability, resource stresses at many levels, economic and political development and demographic stresses. A lot of focus will be put on the economy-energy-security connections, and on regional and global energy geopolitics and energy diplomacy. As we discuss one region, we may often make intellectual linkages with other regions.
This class will be taught in an interdisciplinary manner and from many different angles and ideas. There are many complex issues involved here. For some of them there are many answers to work through. Sometimes the answers are not as clear as one would like. Sometimes the best way to handle the problems is to look at systems and connections in a general sense, rather than just at one option and its related costs and benefits.
The following syllabi may help you learn more about this course (login required):
Spring '09: Sullivan P (description)
Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.
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