Global Energy Policy gives an objective view of the world energy system and the energy transition

The course has been offered at SIPA and other schools (Yale, Georgetown, University of Queensland, Renmin University and Beijing Foreign Studies University) since 2010 and has been attended by hundreds of students

The course starts with a review of energy fundamentals and offers an objective view of the world energy system (demand, supply, flows, prices) and the energy transition which encompasses inter alia:

  • Decelerating demand and rising energy efficiency
  • Abundant fossil fuel reserves
  • Climate awareness
  • Super low cost variable renewable energies
  • Decentralized generation
  • New transport solutions
  • Innovative business models (shale oil & gas, renewable energies finance)


agriculture alternative energy clouds countryside
Photo by Pixabay on

Students will become familiar with  databases and indicators, energy conversions, estimate levelized costs of electricity and simple climate models




The course relies heavily on the discussion of papers and on class debates although the typical class has a 50 minutes recitation It will include 2 out of class lectures (oil markets/shale gas and a panel with former Columbia students that are developing their careers in energy companies) and 3 in class computer- based projectsIMG_2766

Levelized costs of electricity generation

Paris COP 21 simulation

China 2050 energy and carbon emissions modeling



In the last 3 classes students will have 2 options

Option 1: Select 1 among 6 topics to make a group presentation as if it was a job interview, or

Option 2: Present an investment or a consulting project to the class as if it was a client/ investor panel


Beijing energy week


Students that will opt for creating an investment/ consulting project will be offered the possibility to make its presentation at Beijing Energy Week that will be held in China in late May and will be attended by local venture capital investors

Session topics

Class 1 Presentation. No ordinary disruption: The forces that are driving the structural transformation of the world economy

Class 2 Review of energy fundamentals: Units, conversions, energy balance, indicators, databases

Class 3 World energy balance: Resources abundance, decelerating demand, rapid technological change and new business models

Class 4 Oil markets: Lower for longer?

Class 5 Natural gas: Forget what you know about natural gas economics

Class 6 Power systems fundamentals: Thermal and renewable generation, regulated and deregulated markets, centralized and decentralized generation

Class 7 Class case study: Costs of electricity generation and storage

Class 8 Traditional utilities model under pressure (the utilities of the future)

Class 9 Class case study: Simulation of a 6- countries/ region international climate negotiation

Class 10 Case study: Simulation of a China energy sustainability 2050 scenario

Class 11, 12 and 13 Class debates/ presentation of investment projects

  • Electricity market design and capacity markets
  • The challenge of renewable energies integration
  • Utilities of the future
  • Germany´s energy policy
  • Recent changes in the US energy policy
  • New transport solutions


The instructor


Manuel Pinho is affiliated to Columbia University since 2010. He was also a Visiting Professor at Georgetown (2015- 2016), Yale (2012- 13) the University of Queensland (2015) and University of Alicante (2017). He is a Guest Professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University and visited Renmin University of China.

Manuel Pinho started his career at the IMF and is a former Minister of Economy and Innovation in Portugal (2005- 09) and acting President of the 2007 EU Energy Council and is credited for the energy reform that transformed Portugal in a world leader in clean energies.

He authored Europe´s New Energy Era, the background paper of the EU Strategic Energy Technological Plan.

He was awarded Honors by the governments of Brazil, France, Germany, Norway, Spain and Sweden.

Doctoral degree, University of Paris X, BA in Economics, Technical University of Lisbon


BlogManuel Pinho MP21



Office hours

Manuel Pinho:  Office 1313 IAB

Tuesdays 2:00- 5:00 PM, by appointment

Xinli Guo

Javier Mauricio Leon


Structure of the course

  • Classes 1, 2


  • Classes 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8

Recitation followed by a class presentation/ discussion of 1-2 papers by a team of 4-5 students Students should read the papers (marked * in the readings list) before the presentation/ discussion held in class

Presentation: 20 minutes, limit of 5 PPT

Discussion: 20 minutes

  • Classes 6, 9 and 10

In class computer based simulation exercises

  • Classes 11- 13

Class debates


Analytical tools

  • Energy economics fundamentals (units, conversions, indicators)
  • Economics (supply and demand, economic growth, cost -benefit analysis, externalities, principal- agent problems)
  • Finance (cash flow, discount rate, WACC, LCOE))
  • Climate science (global warming potential, Kaya identity, simplest climate model)
  • Electricity markets (nameplate capacity, heat rate, load factor, fuel prices, emission factor).


Readings- videos


Class 1


Class 2


Class 3


Class 4


  • Adjustment in the oil market, cyclical, structural or both? Bassam Fatouh, Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, 2016 * (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.


Class 5



Class 6

Class notes


Class 7


Class 8 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.



Class 9

Class notes *



Class 10

  • Class notes
  • China 2050 simulator
  • EIA, Department of Energy, China Energy, Country Brief
  • How China’s 13th Five-Year Plan Addresses Energy and the Environment, China File
  • Fergus Green and Nicholas Stern, Structural change, better growth, and peak emissions, Grantham Research Institute, 2015,




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