The world is in the early stages of a clean energy transition. In China and many other countries, a shift is underway from the energy sources that dominated the 20th century (mainly coal and oil) to new sources. In the past five years, global wind power capacity has almost doubled, global solar power capacity has tripled and the number of electric vehicles on roads around the world has increased by a factor of 10.
Yet one lesson from history is that energy transitions take time. Despite the recent growth in renewable energy and electric vehicles, fossil fuels currently provide more than 80% of primary energy worldwide. In 2017, global coal and oil consumption both increased.
What does history teach us about energy transitions? What are the causes of the energy transition currently underway? Which technologies are most promising? How is the transition proceeding differently in different countries? What are the likely impacts of the transition?
This course will explore these questions and more. The class will consist of lectures, discussions and field trips. As part of the course, we will visit China State Grid’s Electric Vehicle Control Center in Beijing and attend an international conference on clean energy under the Belt and Road Initiative.
The course will also focus on writing skills. Readings and lectures will provide guidance on how to write with the most impact in a professional setting. Each student will write a policy memo recommending an energy policy to a head of state or other governmental leader. Students will then work with the professor to revise and refine the memo.