UNIT I: Context and Overview
Lecture 1: Course Overview
Why is clean energy innovation crucial to confronting climate change? And how can America lead global efforts to develop the technologies of the future? This overview lecture will outline the course syllabus and present a recent Foreign Affairs article by Varun Sivaram and Teryn Norris that lays out what Bill Gates calls “one of the best arguments I’ve read for why the United States should invest in an energy revolution.”
Lecture 2: Theory of Technological Change, Part I
What is technological change, how does it unfold, what drives it, and why is energy a particularly difficult sector to disrupt? This class session will cover: taxonomy of technological change; overview of general purpose technologies and combinatorial evolution of technology; theory of dominant designs and new industry evolution; spillover benefits of research and development and firm incentives to invest across the technology cycle; technology diffusion, pull vs. push drivers of technological change; and the barriers posed to innovation by legacy sectors like energy.
Student Presentation of Readings for Lecture 2
Lecture 3: Theory of Technological Change, Part II
UNIT II: Clean Energy Technologies to Decarbonize the Power Sector
Lecture 4: Introduction to Energy and the Power Sector
The key to decarbonizing the world’s energy systems lies in the power sector. This session will introduce basic energy facts and terms, provide an overview of why the power sector is so important to mitigate climate change, and introduce the 20th century model of the power grid in the industrialized world. The lecture will conclude by laying out a vision for a modern, 21st century power system.
Student Presentation of Readings for Lecture 4
NOTE: Lecture 5, which developed a technical understanding of today’s power system and tomorrow’s smart grid, was not videotaped. Please consult the lecture slides for this material.
Lecture 6: Wind and Solar Energy
Overview of the wind and solar resources. Basic technical principles of wind energy (including rotors, generators, and power curves) and solar energy (including semiconductors, current-voltage characteristics, system design). Research frontiers in wind and solar technology. Capital and levelized costs of variable renewable energy systems.
Student Presentation of Readings for Lecture 6
Lecture 7: Hydro and Geothermal Energy
Overview of the hydro and geothermal resources; overview of different types of hydropower including run-of-river, pumped storage, conventional dam; water flow through power stations and introduction to turbines; environmental impacts of hydropower; overview of geothermal configurations and thermodynamic cycles; research frontiers including enhanced geothermal systems; economics of baseload and dispatchable renewable energy systems.
Click here to access the lecture and slides, recorded at the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania
Lecture 8: Nuclear Power and Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration
Introduction to nuclear fission; overview and history of reactor configurations; waste and proliferation considerations; cost trends from 1950s through today; new research frontiers in Generation IV reactors and small modular reactors; overview of carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration technologies and research frontiers.
Guest Lecturer: Dr. Colin McCormick, Chief Technology Officer, Valence Strategic (Topic: CCUS)
Guest Lecturer: Dr. Dan Stout, Head of Small Modular Reactors, Tennessee Valley Authority (Topic: Nuclear Energy)
Note: The lecture on energy storage technologies, held at the Council on Foreign Relations, was not videotaped. Please consult the lecture slides for this material
UNIT III: How Markets and Policy Can Accelerate Innovation
Lecture 9: Funding Energy Innovation
How do the various activities that compose innovation get funded? This class session will cover: historical U.S. federal funding for energy R&D; private sector funding including venture capital, institutional, and corporate investment in technologies and companies; the Valley of Death and funding needs beyond R&D.
Student Presentation of Readings for Lecture 9
Lecture 10: Overcoming Legacy Sector Barriers
Guest Lecturer: Charles Weiss, Distinguished Professor of STIA, Georgetown Univ.
Lecture 11: Policy Recommendations for Energy Innovation
How can federal and/or state and local governments put together all the pieces that form a national clean energy innovation ecosystem? This class session will cover: national competitiveness; manufacturing and innovation; lessons from other sectors like the military; and policy initiatives to drive private sector innovation.
Student Presentation of Readings for Lecture 11
Lecture 12: Innovation Orchards
Guest Lecturer: Bill Bonvillian, Director of MIT DC Office