This course provides an interdisciplinary introduction to the science, technology, economics, and politics of energy use in human societies. After an introduction to the scientific principles of transforming energy sources into usable services, we investigate specific technologies and discuss their impact on geopolitics and the environment. In doing so we seek to address these questions, among others: What is the role of energy in national security? What is the future of oil and how do new resources and new demand centers affect energy security? What are the implications of new, long-term supplies of unconventional gas from fracking? What role can nuclear power serve for the next century? Do wind and solar power have the potential to supplant other energy sources? What will climate change policy mean for our energy mix? How might developing countries undertake a low-carbon energy transition? What is the proper balance of regulation and free market operation in energy and electricity markets? What new technologies are on the horizon, and how promising are they? Given extensive current activity on this topic, the course will retain flexibility to take advantage of relevant DC-area academic, government, or agency events, hearings, and/or conferences.
Schedule of Classes