Expanding Renewable Energy Markets
This is an interdisciplinary problem solving course offered at the Law School in winter 2018. Graduate and professional students in business, economics, engineering, environmental and earth sciences, law, sustainability and environment, public policy, and urban planning are eligible to enroll.
Renewable energy offers the promise of energy security and reduced greenhouse gas emissions that are critical to climate change mitigation efforts in the United States and throughout the world. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia impose minimum renewable energy standards on their utilities' generation portfolios; eight states have renewable energy goals. The most ambitious standard is in Hawaii, which seeks to meet 100 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2045, followed by Vermont (75 percent by 2032), California (50 percent by 2030), and the District of Columbia (50 percent by 2032). In Michigan, the renewable portfolio standard will be 15 percent in 2021.
Meeting renewable portfolios standards and expanding renewable energy markets requires overcoming numerous technological, societal, and legal hurdles. These challenges include an antiquated electricity transmission network geared to local generation and distribution that does not readily accommodate transmission of renewable energy from states where there is abundant supply to population centers; management of the electricity grid to provide stability in the face of the intermittent nature of renewable energy at limited scale; having sufficient storage capacity for renewable energy so that electricity is available at peak periods of demand; and ensuring price competitiveness of renewable energy through a combination of monetary and fiscal policy, while avoiding regressive impacts and geographical cost disparities. Addressing these challenges will require modification to existing laws and regulations.
In this course, students will briefly examine these and the myriad other challenges facing renewable energy markets and then generate solutions to address one of the challenges. Classes will include discovery sessions with industry, governmental, and academic experts. At the end of the term, students will present an integrated proposal to an expert review panel.
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