This course examines the interrelationships between the environment and the ways in which energy is produced, distributed, and used. Worldwide energy use patterns and projections are reviewed. Particular attention is paid to the electrical and transportation sectors of energy use. Underlying scientific principles are studied to provide a basis for understanding the inevitable environmental consequences of energy use. Topics studied include fossil, nuclear, and existing and potential renewable sources, including hydroelectric, geothermal, tidal, wind, and solar. Transportation options including internal combustion, hybrid, and electric options are quantitatively compared. Use of alternate fuels such as biodiesel and ethanol are evaluated. Emphasis is placed on the environmental impacts of energy sources, including local effects resulting from emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur, hydrocarbons, and particulates as well as global effects such as mercury release from coal combustion. Carbon emissions are a continuing theme as each energy technology is studied and its contribution to climate change is assessed. Carbon suppression schemes are examined. Particular attention is paid to consequences and effectiveness of government intervention and regulation. The purpose is to help students understand how energy is converted into useful forms, how this conversion impacts our environment, and how public policy can shape these impacts.
575.411 Economic Foundations for Public Decision Making, or an equivalent course in microeconomic theory, is recommended.