The Economics of Competing Energy Technologies is a course offered by Stanford University as part of their Energy Innovation and Emerging Technologies Certificate. The goal of the course is to give the student an overview on the detailed economics of various energy technologies such as natural gas, coal, and solar. In addition, the course also dives into the effectiveness of various public energy policies.
We have divided our review into three sections: 1) Instructor, 2) Quality of Course Delivery, and 3) Quality of Course Content.
Instructor. The instructor we reviewed was Stefan Reichelstein, Professor of Accounting. Professor Reichelstein has a M.S. and PhD from Northwestern University, and is a Trust Faculty Fellow for 2014-2015. Since this course is fairly heavy on economic analysis, it definitely makes sense for an accounting professor to be the instructor. However, we did feel that he wasn’t very enthusiastic when it came to issues surrounding renewable energy. His teaching style also isn’t suited for everyone, and we often had to listen to his explanations several times before it made complete sense. Despite some minor stylistic shortcomings, Professor Reichelstein is very knowledgeable and definitely of the caliber that one would expect from Stanford.
Quality of Course Delivery. This course was delivered online through Stanford University’s Center for Professional Development. The course itself is a series of lecture videos along with the accompanying slides. The overall video quality was good. However, there were times when the audio and video was not synchronized. Furthermore, there were several cases where the videos between different modules overlapped.
Quality of Course Content. The content in the course is good. It provided a very comprehensive look at the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), which is the primary tool used to compare the economic viability of various energy production technologies. The course also provides tools that make it easy for the student to calculate the LCOE for energy sources which weren’t discussed in the course. The range of topics that the course covered include:
- Levelized cost of electricity (LCOE)
- The impact of regulations and tax
- The financial risks of various technologies
- Actual case studies
- Intermittent energy generation and pricing
One of the things that we did not like about the course content was that some of it was a little out of date. We took the course in 2016, and some modules referenced information from 2013. This is a bit of a problem since technology is changing so quickly in the renewable energy industry.
Final Recommendation. Overall, we would recommend this course to anyone who is interested in the energy industry (fossil or renewable).