ENRGYENV 898 - Energy, Markets & Innovation

Course Overview

The purpose of this course is to orient students to the dynamic opportunities that exist in the ongoing transformation of the global energy industry. Existing energy sources and the infrastructures that deliver them to users around the world are undergoing a period of rapid change. Limits to growth, rapidly fluctuating raw material prices, and the emergence of new technology options all contribute to heightened risk and opportunity in the energy sector.

Using theoretical and practical understanding of the process by which energy technologies are developed, financed, and deployed, this course seeks to highlight the root drivers for change in the energy industry, the technologies that are emerging, and the factors that will determine success in their commercialization.

The course begins with a week of cross-cutting issues about the state of the current energy industry supply and demand, how to measure and value energy, and the various constraints and market drivers that will determine emerging energy economics in the future. It will be important to understand energy not as a monolithic concept, but as one of delivering a specific useful product to specific users at a precise place and time.

The remaining five weeks will use these over-arching frameworks and tools to understand emerging energy technologies. First, we will examine the technologies and delivery architectures that make up the vast majority of today’s electricity supply, and the forces that are driving their evolution. Today's electricity architecture is dominated by the fuel sources of coal, nuclear, and natural gas, though many new technologies are emerging to add to the slate of alternatives. We will explore where and how each of these alternatives competes, using very specific tools of analysis.

Turning to the transportation industry, currently dominated by petroleum fuels, we will then explore all of the drivers that will lead to changes in how we move goods and people. By necessity, these changes will involve more systemic shifts and revolutionary technology changes as well as changes in consumer and industrial behavior. We will apply to this transformation the tools of finance, venture capital, and disruptive technologies in more detail.

Finally, we will integrate all of the transformations in the energy industry into a discussion of new business models, adaptations of existing business strategies, and the sources of persistent economic rents that entrepreneurs search for in the pursuit of business opportunities. A comprehensive view of the current and future energy system should help to inform one's investment of time and capital into this exciting sector.

Upon completing the course, students should not only understand the nature of conventional and emerging energy generation and delivery, but also the tools for determining potential winners and losers and the innovative pathways to drive their commercial success.