Fall 2022 - 60680 - PA 680PA - Policy Research Project

PRP (POLICY RESEARCH PROJECT): Energy Transition and Resilience: Convergent Pathways in Finance, Policy, Technology, and Society (one semester)

Energy Transition and Resilience:

Convergent Pathways in Finance, Policy, Technology, and Society


Co-taught by Varun Rai and Paul Hudson (Fall 2022)


Increased resilience of the world’s energy system is anything but given as the world transitions toward net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  Impacts of changing climate—manifesting as unprecedented wildfires, weather-pattern variations, flooding, droughts—combined with global supply-chain disruption fueled by pandemic and conflict—are wreaking havoc on already stretched energy systems, with creaking underlying infrastructure. Traditional measures of grid reliability have been overtaken conceptually by varying definitions of resilience.  Resiliency reflects system interdependencies and temporal concepts related to mitigation, response, and recovery.  It recognizes consequences, not just outages. This one-semester (Fall 2022) PRP will focus on addressing the challenge of increasing power system resilience in the face of the ongoing energy transition: How can the energy transition – the shift in the global production and usage of energy toward net-zero GHG emissions – engender a more resilient energy system? Specifically, this PRP will take a deep-dive case-study and expert interviews approach to exploring the following questions:


—How should we define multi-system dependent resilience in the context of changing global circumstances? What are the attributes of a resilient system across different frameworks, what are the common and non-overlapping features, how are they measured, tracked, and used in various policy, regulatory, and investment decisions?

—How have various jurisdictions begun to risk weight infrastructure and technology decisions to effectively drive new initiatives in infrastructure resilience? What factors drive the convergence or divergence of such initiatives?

—What are the resilience implications of various proposed net-zero GHG pathways?

—How is resilience considered, measured, and evaluated as part of the ongoing ESG (environmental, social, and governance) movement?

—How should we be instructed by reliability events over the past two decades when considering grid resilience?

—How should we think about appropriate investments and policies to enhance resilience in the context of same?



This course will be co-taught by Varun Rai (LBJ School) and Paul Hudson (General Infrastructure/Blackstone Group). Dr. Varun Rai is the Walt and Elspeth Rostow Professor, the Associate Dean for Research at the LBJ School, and holds a joint appointment in the Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering. Until recently, he was the director of UT Austin’s Energy Institute. During 2013-2015 he was a Commissioner for the vertically-integrated electric utility Austin Energy. Paul Hudson is the President of General Infrastructure (GI), wholly owned by the leading global investment business Blackstone. GI is working at pace to discover energy transition focused assets, companies, and development opportunities that will thrive with appropriate investment. Mr. Hudson has held several prominent positions in public and private organizations, including serving as Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Texas (2003-2008), Board of Directors of ERCOT (2004-2008), and Founder and Managing Partner of the Stratus Energy Group (2008-2017).

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