Energy use is the single greatest source of environmental damage, and energy consumption is expected to increase dramatically as more of the world’s people climb out of poverty. New technologies have opened up a wealth of fossil fuels previously thought to be inaccessible or too expensive, yet concern grows about the climate impact of burning even a small portion of the world’s remaining fossil-fuel reserves. What, then, are our most realistic and desirable options? Proceed with our heavy reliance on fossil fuels, hoping that environmental systems prove more resilient than some now argue? Intensely explore other supply options (energy efficiency, nuclear, the familiar renewables, and exotic technical options) while entertaining fundamental changes to systems of transportation, food production, and settlement? Or pursue an ‘anything goes’ strategy while investing in systems and technologies that enhance our resilience to climate change? Most important, what light does the European experience shed on these questions, especially for citizens of the United States, who live some of the most energy-intensive lives on the planet? This course explores these questions by (i) reviewing past and present patterns of energy supply and use, (ii) assessing the range of energy options for the future, (iii) analyzing the technological responses to “the energy challenge” by the countries on our itinerary, and (iv) drawing informed conclusions about energy futures from this wealth of information. Methods of evaluation include a set of in-port investigations and written portfolio (20%), three exams (45%), and five qualitative/quantitative homework assignments meant to foster practical problem-solving skills (35%).
Field WorkCountry: Spain
Day: 1 - Friday, 27 June
Spain is among Europe’s leaders in research and deployment of renewable energy systems for electricity generation. We will learn more about renewable energy in Spain with two site visits, the first hosted by the Basque Country Energy Agency (EVE). We will travel for an hour to EVE’s offices in Mutriku, the site of one of southern Europe’s largest wave energy installations (see http://www.power-technology.com/projects/mutriku-wave/). After speaking with our EVE hosts about energy issues in the Basque Country, we will tour the Mutriku Wave Energy plant. We will then head back to Bilbao, stopping for lunch at the canteen of Tecnalia, a major center for energy research, development, and deployment in Spain (see http://www.tecnalia.com/en/energy-environment/index.htm ). After lunch we will tour the facilities of Tecnalia, including the showroom of emerging technologies, and the smart grid and micro grid facilities. Our hosts at Tecnalia will present their ongoing work in bringing new energy technologies and practices to market. They will also address our interest in emerging technologies, the challenges of integrating renewable electricity into the grid, and Spain’s energy policies over the past decade. Dr. Chris Calwell, Senior Fellow at Ecova, a U.S.-based energy and sustainability management company (see http://www.ecova.com/) will be joining our class between Lisbon and Bilbao and will accompany us on our field lab. Academic Objectives: 1. Become more deeply acquainted with the technical aspects of wave energy. 2. Learn about the challenges of integrating renewable electricity into the grid. 3. Understand the potential of micro grid and smart grid systems. 4. Learn about the Basque Country’s work around renewable energy, and Spain’s policies more generally, and identify elements of policy success and policy surprise. 5. Develop a foundation for understanding energy challenges and opportunities in Europe more generally.