The Center fosters dissemination of research on energy policy within Columbia and in the broader academic, business, professional, and public policy communities. While much of the research produced by scholars affiliated with the Center ultimately appears in scholarly books and professional journals, we also publish interesting, rigorous, and topical papers directly. All research produced through the Center is available for free via download on our website.
The Center's research agenda emphasizes an economic and geostrategic approach to key energy policy areas. Research areas encompass a wide variety of topics. Examples of current research projects include those listed below, among others. For additional information about our approach and unique qualifications, read more in the Center's overview document.
Current Center Research Projects
Carbon Revenue Project
Economists have long considered a carbon tax to be the preferred strategy for addressing global climate change. Taxing carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can help avoid future economic costs from a changing climate while raising revenue that can be used for economically beneficial purposes. While there is no consensus about the best way to use the revenue, among economists a carbon tax has attracted bipartisan support. This project will help to understand the carbon pricing design options available and their respective environmental, energy market, and economic impacts, including how carbon pricing would interact with existing energy, environmental and tax policies at the state and national level.
A Guide to China’s Climate Policy
China has announced ambitious goals to limit greenhouse gas emissions and deploy clean energy technologies. This project, led by CGEP Inaugural Fellow David Sandalow (former Under Secretary (Acting) and Assistant Secretary for Policy & International Affairs at the US Department of Energy), examines China’s plans for meeting those goals and ways the U.S. and China can work together to meet the challenge of climate change.
Future of the Electric Grid
Today’s electric grid looks strikingly similar to the grid of 100 years ago. Yet disruptive technologies are beginning to change the grid’s architecture and challenge the business models that shape it. In the next several decades, the impacts could be far-reaching and profound. Inaugural Center Fellow David Sandalow is at work on a book on the future of the electric grid and leads our project on this topic.
The Role of Public Policy in Supporting Renewable Power
A wide array of Federal and state policies have supported investment in and generation of power from renewable sources – such as wind, solar, and geothermal. For example, investment tax credits and grants, production tax credits, accelerated depreciation, property tax exemptions, loan guarantees, renewable power mandates, and carbon pricing can impact the decision to invest in new renewable power generating capacity. This paper, led by Center Fellow Dr. Joe Aldy, will examine the efficacy of multiple, overlapping policy instruments promoting renewable power, identify the most cost-effective policies for driving renewable investment, and describe the fiscal impacts of the mix of policy instruments. In addition, the paper will address how the potential transition away from tax expenditures – with the expiration of the production tax credit and the looming expiration of the investment tax credit – and toward carbon pricing under state implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan will affect renewable power investment.
Major Oil Producers and the Impact of Lower Oil Prices
The steep drop in oil prices that began in June 2014 caught many in the energy sector off guard. While consumer nations are benefitting from reduced fuel bills, the collapse has increased risks in key oil producing countries and created new geopolitical issues for the global community. This series of short papers examines the impact of lower oil prices on Iran, Iraq, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, highlighting the inherent risks each country currently faces and those that may arise if prices remain in a lower range for a prolonged period of time.
Economic Statecraft, Sanctions and Energy Markets
This research project will provide a detailed look at the market impact of sanctions, focusing especially on the recent cases of Iran and Russia but examining other appropriate cases such as Iraq and Libya, and examine the practical result of the sanctions imposed and what they actually achieved. In addition to exploring how private sector entities responded, the project will examine any unintended consequences to sanctions and if they benefitted or hurt the sanctioning government(s). The project will also provide actionable policy recommendations for the current sanctions regimes and guidance for potential similar actions in the future. Read the program overview here (PDF).
Opportunities and Challenges in Asian Gas Markets
This research project will investigate the prospects, challenges and geopolitical implications of creating hub-based pricing, trading and competitive gas markets in Asia. Well-developed, liquid trading hubs could redefine relations between Asian countries and producer nations, reduce overall energy costs, and transform established pricing and contracting practices tied to oil that have so far dominated global natural gas trade. It would also potentially bring broad investment and geopolitical implications.
The objective of the study is to identify the requirements and benefits of a more liberalized Asian gas trading system and to inform discussions for all participants in the hub development process as well as those whose interests will be impacted by the broad implications of an Asian gas hub. It will also provide suggestions for reforms that would be needed, as well as analyze additional infrastructure requirements. Our work will address critical questions such as how to set up a hub so that it attracts the necessary level of liquidity. The study will also provide an assessment of the geopolitical implications of the development of one or several well-functioning Asian LNG trading hubs. It will investigate how growing Asian gas liquidity could redefine producer-consumer relations in Asia, as well as its ability to advance the interests of the United States and other OECD countries.
What Role for Next Generation Nuclear Technology?
Climate change and population growth in the developing world present both a challenge and an opportunity for technological solutions that reduce our carbon footprint while meeting economic development goals. This project will examine the potential role of next generation nuclear technology as a part of a solution considering the environmental, economic, and geopolitical landscape of nuclear technology.
US Natural Gas Exports to Mexico
Mexican natural gas imports have grown rapidly in recent years, reaching 2.7 billion cubic feet per day in 2014, and further growth is expected in the coming years. Mexican production of natural gas has been falling gradually and will likely continue to do so during the rest of this decade. At the same time, demand will grow rapidly, driven by natural gas fueled combined cycle plants that are being built throughout the country. They will be the main incremental source of power generation in the foreseeable future. Industrial demand should also grow after a period in which it was constrained by transport bottlenecks. The construction of large pipelines that interconnect US gas hubs in West and South Texas to Mexican markets has been advancing, as well as the overall expansion of the natural gas grid. LNG imports are also being substituted by overland imports, a process that should come to a close in early 2016. Energy reform in Mexico is fully liberalizing the domestic natural gas market and should provide adequate incentives for the development of transport, distribution and storage infrastructure. The share of natural gas in total primary energy supply is among the highest in OECD countries; natural gas fueled electricity plants contribute to more than half of gross power generation; and, 55 percent of marketed gas –excluding Pemex’ own consumption- is imported. This growing triple dependence on natural gas poses complex energy security issues. It also offers the unique opportunity of accessing abundant and low-cost North American supplies.
Center on Global Energy Policy Publications
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