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Energy Analysis, Policy and Security

Core Learning Group Assignments

In this class, students will take responsibility for their individual success and will facilitate the success of members of their interdisciplinary “core learning group” (CLG). Participants will work together to become area experts on energy issues of a specific nation. Each CLG will consist of four students (two students from Divisions 1 or 2 and two students from Division 3).  CLGs will give three oral presentations and four written products (CLG 1-4 below). Working as an interdisciplinary team is an essential component of this course, as students work together to create an accurate picture of a country's energy issues and supplies. 
CLG 1-Overview

Overview

Students are tasked with the overview of the country's energy profile, broken up into the four sections as follows:

Engineering: Analyze the current energy portfolio including current conversion technologies. Estimate conversion efficiencies. Suggest possible future changes to this portfolio based on available data. Plot normalized GDP vs. TPES over time and project future trends. Suggest where dominant losses likely occur and technologies that could be implemented to improve the energy portfolio. Are there untapped resources available? What limits their utilization?


Earth Science: Assess the energy resource distribution (current and untapped) and potential resource availability for the assigned country and relate it to the past, current, and/or planned national energy portfolio. List the environmental challenges related to the utilization of these energy resources (to include, at a minimum: harvesting, processing, energy production/use, storage, energy transmission, transportation, and waste disposal) and potential impacts on the local and regional environment and the Earth System.

EconomicsWhere possible, find the current market price for each primary energy source in the country. Do these prices reflect taxes and subsidies? If so, are these taxes / subsidies justified based on the external costs and benefits of producing each energy source?

Political Science: Using a specific energy controversy relevant to the case study nation (e.g., fracking, nuclear power, off shore oil exploration…), identify how competing stakeholders in the nation’s energy debate framed the energy controversy. Provide specific examples of stakeholders and link their actions and words to each of the worldviews discussed in class.

CLG 2- Fossil Fuels

Fossil Fuels

Students are tasked with a detailed report on different facets of a nation's fossil fuels distribution. The tasks are as follows:

Engineering: Model current fossil fuel use with model compounds; suggest how projected changes over coming decades will affect CO2 emissions. Estimate reserve lifetime and calculate over time to see trend. Determine main technologies used in the stationary and mobile energy systems and estimate their efficiency. What future changes to these energy systems are immediately possible, or likely, and what affect would they have?

Earth Science: Assess the hydrocarbon fuel resource distribution (oil, coal, gas, biomass) and potential availability for the assigned country and relate it to the past, current, and/or planned national energy portfolio. Discuss specific examples illustrating the environmental challenges related to the utilization of these energy resources (to include, at a minimum: harvesting, processing, energy production/use, storage, energy transmission, transportation, and waste disposal) and potential impacts on the local and regional environment and the Earth System.    

Economics: Characterize the production, consumption, and trade in fossil fuels in the country. Is the country a net exporter or importer of energy from fossil fuels? Who are the country’s major trading partners in fossil fuels? What economic and national security concerns do your answers above pose for your country?

Political Science: Describe the abundance and distribution of fossil fuels in your case study nation. Use this information to analyze the nation’s role in international treaties related to climate change. In other words, to what extent has the availability, or lack of availability, of fossil fuels influenced your nation state’s position on limiting greenhouse gases. Link your analysis to specific climate change treaties and policy statements and votes by the nation’s leaders.  

CLG 3-Nuclear Energy

Nuclear Energy

Students are tasked with a detailed report on the nation's nuclear energy portfolio and issues pertaining to the use of nuclear energy in that nation. They are as follows.

Engineering: Based on published data, estimate the type of nuclear fuel refining technology, the total amount of fuel used, and the total amount of waste generated. Identify the type of reactors if possible. Explain how the country does or could produce nuclear weapons.

Earth Science: Assess, from an Earth Science perspective, the advantages, challenges and considerations associated with using nuclear energy instead of conventional energy resources for the assigned country (think about cooling, geology, geo-location).  Discuss specific examples illustrating the environmental challenges related to the utilization of nuclear energy (to include, at a minimum: harvesting, processing, energy production/use, storage, energy transmission, transportation, and waste disposal) and potential impacts on the local and regional environment and the Earth System. 

EconomicsHow would the elimination of nuclear power as an energy source affect the use of fossil fuels, the standard of living, and national security in the country in the short term? In the long term? 

Political Science: Describe the historical circumstance that led the country to develop nuclear power. Assess if the drive for nuclear power was primarily driven by military, economic, or environmental concerns. Forecast the future direction of the nation’s nuclear power program.

CLG 4-Renewable Resources

Renewable Resources

Students are tasked with creating a report on the different renewable that are available to the nation, as well as different factors that affect their uses or lack thereof. The tass are as follows:

Engineering: Estimate access to solar, wind, and biomass resources. For each, identify a likely conversion technology and efficiency with present technology. What is currently being utilized and what is under-utilized? To what extent could these resources offset conventional energy conversion?

Earth Science: Assess the alternative/ renewable energy resource distribution and potential availability (i.e., wind, solar, waste energy, geothermal, other) for the country and relate it to the past, current, and/or planned national energy portfolio. Discuss specific examples illustrating the environmental challenges related to the utilization of these energy resources (to include, at a minimum: harvesting, processing, energy production/use, storage, energy transmission, transportation, and waste disposal) and potential impacts on the local and regional environment and the Earth System.

EconomicsCharacterize the production of renewable energy in your country relative to energy from fossil fuels and nuclear power. To what extent is the production of renewable energy dependent on government subsidies and mandates? Forecast if, and when, production of renewable energy in the country will be cost-effective without subsidies and / or mandates.

Political Science: Outline the renewable energy resources of the country. Give three examples of specific public policies that were put in place in the nation to promote the spread of renewable energy. For each renewable energy policy, identify the major groups advocating for the policy and the major groups that oppose the policy.  If possible, identify the economic interests behind the advocacy and opposition groups.  

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