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Fall 2010 - 60845 - PA680PA - Policy Research Project

Integrating Energy Options and Policies for the 21st Century

Instructor(s): Groat, Charles G.
Unique Number: 60845
Day & Time: T 2:00 - 5:00 pm
Room: SRH 3.122
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Section Description

As the nations of the world strive to reduce greenhouse gas production in the decades ahead that will see a continued heavy reliance on carbon-based fuels and growth in their use by developing economies, technologies that minimize carbon dioxide production are finding increasing favor. Nuclear power is an obvious option and natural gas has emerged as the lowest greenhouse gas emitter of the traditional carbon fuels. Wind energy is growing in its application and solar technology is evolving into a significant player. Geothermal energy use is growing. Yet to experience prime time is a series of technologies that, for various reasons, are either still in development or not receiving a high degree of consideration. These include methane hydrates, nuclear fusion, cold fusion, and ocean-based energy. Also in this company are climate engineering approaches to combating global warming.

This PRP will examine policies that are encouraging or discouraging the increased use of nuclear energy and natural gas, then focus on factors that are inhibiting development of members of the group of less recognized energy technologies. Factors that support or hinder emerging energy and related environmental technologies are many. Some technologies are of limited application because they are location specific or have limited output. Others are embroiled in debate among scientists over scientific principles or interpretations of research results. This part of the PRP will focus on the factors that are influencing efforts to progress in these areas of emerging or controversial technologies and the underpinnings of these factors. Using an evidence-based policy approach, the program will recommend options for resolving conflicts and moving forward on those technologies or resources that have been limited as much by political and funding competition as by demonstrated shortcomings in scientific merit and energy supply potential.
The class will first familiarize itself with the technologies to be considered and develop a plan for researching their status and policies that influence funding and progress. There will be lectures, presentations by outside experts, and student presentations. Information will also be gathered through interviews, possibly involving travel. Students will author a final report discussing findings and policy options for dealing with nuclear power, natural gas, and the most promising emerging energy sources. Attention will be concentrated on the United States, however relevant international developments will be included.