GRM 3402 Energy Resources
Instructor: Professor XU Yuan
Email: yuanxu@cuhk.edu.hk
Office: Wong Foo Yuan Building 247; Telephone: 2609-6647
Office hours: 2:30-4:30pm, Tuesdays or by appointment
Tutor: Feng Xiaofei
Email: fengxiaofei@cuhk.edu.hk
Office: Wong Foo Yuan Building 219; Telephone: 2609-6233
Office hour: 2:00-3:00pm, Mondays and Thursdays or by appointment
Course Description:
Energy consumption greatly enhances our welfare but also creates many problems. On the one
hand, energy is the foundation of our modern society. Electricity illuminates and operates the
world. Modern transportation systems are energy intensive. The consumption of natural gas for
cooking avoids indoor air pollution that is causing over one million premature deaths in poor
countries. On the other hand, energy also creates many problems, such as contaminated ocean in
the Gulf of Mexico, air pollution that makes Hong Kong dizzier, climate change that could have
intensified those originally less-frequent natural disasters, etc. A critical goal on energy is to
maximize the positive impacts on people’s lives and minimize the negative side. The balance of
the two sides is to a great extent the choice of the society. This course aims to guide students
through a wide and interconnected array of real-world topics covering both fossil fuels and
Students are not required to have prior exposure to the field. The course will be taught from an
interdisciplinary approach according to the nature of topics in energy and the environment.
Students should have an open mind and be creative. Active participation in class discussion is
highly encouraged. Never hesitate to interrupt the instructor in the classroom. The instructor
welcomes questions and appreciates challenges. The hope is that students will have fun in taking
the course and get more interested in the topics after one semester.
Learning outcome:
After taking this course, students are expected to be equipped with comprehensive knowledge on
energy and the environment. Intensive data will be employed in the lectures. Students should
learn the skills to present and analyze quantitative data. The course will train the students to
approach problems with critical and creative thinking. All continents and major countries will be
covered and compared on energy and environmental issues. Students will leave with a global
Assignments and course evaluation:
Characterize your own energy consumption: (1) collect and present data on your energy
consumption from a specific aspect (week-4), (2) calculate the associated emissions, (3) discuss
your options to cut the emissions by half (week-13) (30%)
Two policy memos: One by November and one by December, four pages each (no more, no less)
with everything included (35% each)
Weekly topics (course syllabus):
1. Introduction to the topic and course overview
Concentration 1: Energy consumption
2. Energy consumption: how much and how
3. Energy consumption: the deciding factors
Concentration 2: Energy resources and supply
Oil & natural gas
Electricity and electrification
Concentration 3: Energy and the environment
9. Energy and conventional air pollutants
10. Energy and climate change
11. The decarbonization of electricity generation
12. The decarbonization of transportation
13. Energy conservation
Academic honesty:
As you already know, academic dishonesty will not be tolerated.
1. Find a energy-related news in the past week and come to discuss it in the class (week-4)
2. Pick up a career/research field that may interest you and discuss the potential overlap with
energy and the environment (week-10)
3. Analyze data from the first assignment and discussion on carbon mitigation in daily lives
Useful websites for data and readings:
You are encouraged to play with the data and get to know energy and the environmental impacts.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA): http://www.eia.doe.gov/, providing energyrelated data for the U.S. and other countries.
OECD online library: www.sourceoecd.org, containing especially publications from
International Energy Agency (IEA)
Earthtrends database from World Resources Institute:
Hong Kong energy statistics annual report:
China Energy Group in the Lawrence Berkeley Lab: http://china.lbl.gov/ . The China Energy
Databook is very useful. A free copy could be requested free of charge on the website:
China Statistical Yearbook: http://www.stats.gov.cn/tjsj/ndsj/
China Energy Web: http://www.china5e.com/. It has energy-related news in both Chinese and
Course readings by week (required readings in bold):
1. Introduction to the topic and course overview
UNDP, World Energy Assessment: Energy and the Challenge of sustainability, 2000.
J. Goldemberg and T. B. Johansson, World Energy Assessment: Overview 2004 Update,
2. Energy consumption: how much and how
Lam, J. C.; Li, D. H. W.; Cheung, S. O., An analysis of electricity end-use in airconditioned office buildings in Hong Kong. Build Environ 2003, 38 (3), 493-498.
IEA, World Energy Outlook 2007 -- China and India Insights. 2007.
3. Energy consumption: the deciding factors
Yu, E.; Liu, J., Environmental impacts of divorce. Proceedings of National Academy of
Sciences 2007, 104 (51), 20629-20634.
Ma, C.; Stern, D. I., China's changing energy intensity trend: A decomposition analysis.
Energ Econ 2008, 30 (3), 1037-1053.
O'Neill, B. C.; Chen, B. S., Demographic Determinants of Household Energy Use in the
United States. Population and Development Review 2002, 28 (Supplement: Population and
Environment: Methods of Analysis), 53-88.
Liu, J. G.; Daily, G. C.; Ehrlich, P. R.; Luck, G. W., Effects of household dynamics on
resource consumption and biodiversity. Nature 2003, 421 (6922), 530-533.
Bureau of Transportation Statistics, "National Transportation Statistics," U.S. Department of
Transportation, Washington, D.C., 2010.
4. Coal
MIT The future of coal -- options for a carbon-constrained world; Massachusetts
Institute of Technology: 2007. Read chapter 2.
Schweinfurth, Stanley P., An introduction to coal quality, in Pierce, B. S.; Dennen, K. O., eds,
The National Coal Resource Assessment Overview, 2009, http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/1625f/
5. Oil & natural gas
IEA, Resources to Reserves: Oil and Gas Technologies for the Energy Markets of the
Future. Paris, France, 2005. (read chapter 1, 5, and 6)
Erickson, A. S.; Collins, G. B., China's Oil Security Pipe Dream - The reality, and Strategic
Consequences, of Seaborne Imports. Naval War College Review Spring 2010, 63 (2), 89-111.
6. Nuclear
MIT, "The future of nuclear power," Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Cambridge, MA, 2003. (read chapter 1)
IEA, Nuclear Energy Outlook 2008. Paris, France, 2008.
7. Renewables
IEA, Energy Technology Perspectives: Scenarios and Strategies to 2050 Paris, France:
OECD Publishing, 2008. (read chapters 10, 11 and 12)
Fargione, J.; Hill, J.; Tilman, D.; Polasky, S.; Hawthorne, P., Land clearing and the biofuel
carbon debt. Science 2008, 319 (5867), 1235-1238.
McElroy, M. B.; Lu, X.; Nielsen, C. P.; Wang, Y. X., Potential for Wind-Generated
Electricity in China. Science 2009, 325 (5946), 1378-1380.
Lu, X.; McElroy, M. B.; Kiviluoma, J., Global potential for wind-generated electricity.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2009, 106
(27), 10933-10938.
8. Electricity and electrification
Casazza, J.; Delea, F., Understanding electric power systems : an overview of the
technology and the marketplace. 2nd ed.; Wiley: Hoboken, N.J., 2004. (Chapter 1
required, and the others optional)
9. Energy and conventional air pollutants
Coase, R. H., The Problem of Social Cost. Journal of Law & Economics 1960, 3 (Oct), 144.
World Health Organiation Global Health Risks: Mortality and burden of disease attributable
to selected major risks; Geneva, Switzerland, 2009.
Cao, G. L.; Zhang, X. Y.; Zheng, F. C., Inventory of black carbon and organic carbon
emissions from China. Atmospheric Environment 2006, 40 (34), 6516-6527.
Cohen, A. J.; Anderson, H. R.; Ostro, B.; Pandey, K. D.; Krzyzanowski, M.; Kunzli, N.;
Gutschmidt, K.; Pope, A.; Romieu, I.; Samet, J. M.; Smith, K., The global burden of disease
due to outdoor air pollution. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health-Part aCurrent Issues 2005, 68 (13-14), 1301-1307.
IEA, "Cleaner coal in China," Paris, France, 2009.
10. Energy and climate change
Pacala, S. W.; Socolow, R. H., Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for
the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies. Science 2004, 305 (5686), 968 - 972.
Socolow, R. H.; Pacala, S. W., A plan to keep carbon in check. Sci Am 2006, 295 (3), 50-57.
Xu, M.; Chang, C. P.; Fu, C. B.; Qi, Y.; Robock, A.; Robinson, D.; Zhang, H. M., Steady
decline of east Asian monsoon winds, 1969-2000: Evidence from direct ground
measurements of wind speed. J Geophys Res-Atmos 2006, 111 (D24)
11. The decarbonization of electricity generation
Socolow, R. H., Can we bury global warming? Sci Am 2005, 293 (1), 49-55.
Lindley, D., The Energy Storage Problem. Nature 2010, 463 (7277), 18-20.
IPCC, Special Report on Carbon dioxide Capture and Storage; 2005.
IEA and NEA, Projected Costs of Generating Electricity 2010. Paris, France: OECD, 2010.
12. The decarbonization of transportation
Huo, H.; Zhang, Q. A.; Wang, M. Q.; Streets, D. G.; He, K. B., Environmental
Implication of Electric Vehicles in China. Environmental Science & Technology 2010, 44
(13), 4856-4861.
Kahn Ribeiro, S., S. Kobayashi, M. Beuthe, J. Gasca, D. Greene, D. S. Lee, Y. Muromachi, P.
J. Newton, S. Plotkin, D. Sperling, R. Wit, P. J. Zhou, 2007: Transport and its infrastructure.
In Climate Change 2007: Mitigation. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth
Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [B. Metz, O.R.
Davidson, P.R. Bosch, R. Dave, L.A. Meyer (eds)], Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,
United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
13. Energy conservation
Dietz, T.; Gardner, G. T.; Gilligan, J.; Stern, P. C.; Vandenbergh, M. P., Household
actions can provide a behavioral wedge to rapidly reduce US carbon emissions.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2009,
106 (44), 18452-18456.
Allcott, H.; Mullainathan, S., Behavior and Energy Policy. Science 2010, 327 (5970), 12041205.
IEA; AFD, Promoting Energy Efficiency Investments: Case Studies in the Residential Sector.
Paris, France, 2008.