From Rockefeller to Renewables: 150 Years of US Energy Disruption Winter 2022

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In just the last two decades, the United States has gone from being the world’s largest energy importer to being a net energy exporter. What accounts for this remarkable and globally disruptive transformation, and what are its long-term implications for the US and global transition to cleaner energy. To be sure, oil shale production technology, aka “fracking,” has been a critical driver. However, renewable energy (wind, solar, storage) and conservation have also played important parts. This course starts with a historical perspective, examining the roots of the modern energy industry via John D Rockefeller’s autobiography. We then study the evolution of global supply and demand for oil, natural gas, renewables, and electricity including the important roles of marginal cost curves and market price signals. Which disruptions and their disrupters–from among fracking, wind, solar, and battery storage–have been the most important? What will the next chapter of the US energy transition look like? In addition, we will examine the ebb and flow of geopolitics due to geology. Course includes: 1) team debate where students pair-up, select a topic from current energy issues, and then be randomly assigned to defend one side of the issue; 2) 5 page paper.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 20
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: short paper and final project or presentation; 5 page paper and final project is a team debate
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: seniors, Economics majors
Unit Notes: James F. Clark is a Partner with Sound Shore Management, Inc. where he is on the investment team and Chair of the ESG Committee. Previously, Jim was at Credit Suisse First Boston where he was Managing Director, Director of Research. During his equity research tenure, he was selected to 14 Institutional Investor All-America research teams and inducted into the Wall Street Journal Hall of Fame. He earned a BA from Williams College in Economics and American Studies and an MBA from Harvard.
Materials/Lab Fee: $50

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