From Rockefeller to Renewables: 125 Years of US Energy Disruption Winter 2024

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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? To be sure, oil shale production technology, aka “fracking,” has been a critical driver. However, renewable energy (wind, solar) 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, and renewables, including the important role of market price signals and volatility. Which technologies, including fracking and renewables in the 2000s, have been most important? And why do fossil fuels remain at more than 80% of the energy consumed both in the US and globally despite huge efforts to reduce them? 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) 3-5 page energy stock pitch paper.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 12
Expected: NA
Class#: 1135
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: Paper(s) or report(s); Presentation(s)
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: Econ majors; Environmental Studies majors; Upperclassmen
Unit Notes: James F. Clark '84 is a Partner at Sound Shore Management, Inc. At Sound Shore, Jim is responsible for the firm's energy investments and chairs its ESG Committee. Previously, he was US Research Director and head of energy research at CSFB.
Attributes: STUX Winter Study Student Exploration

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