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Mark C. Thurber
Working Papers

Game-based investigation of standardized forward contracting for long-term resource adequacy

Mark C. Thurber, Fletcher H. Passow, Trevor L. Davis, Frank Wolak
Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, 2022 April 1, 2022
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Journal Articles

Wind and solar in Africa need grids to match

Mark C. Thurber, Murefu Barasa, Rose M. Mutiso, Beryl Ajwang
Electricity Journal, 2021 July 1, 2021
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Working Papers

An Experimental Comparison of Carbon Pricing Under Uncertainty in Electricity Markets

Trevor L. Davis, Mark C. Thurber, Frank Wolak
Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, 2020 May 25, 2020

We report on an economic experiment that compares outcomes in electricity markets subject to carbon-tax and cap-and-trade policies. Under conditions of uncertainty, price-based and quantity-based policy instruments cannot be truly equivalent, so we compared three matched carbon-tax/cap-and-trade pairs with equivalent emissions targets, mean emissions, and mean carbon prices, respectively.

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Working Papers

Promoting Energy Efficiency in Emerging Economies Through Consumer Education: Results From a Field Experiment in Mexico

Ognen Stojanovski, Gordon Leslie, Frank Wolak, Juan Enrique Huerta Wong, Mark C. Thurber
SSRN, 2020 March 23, 2020

Abstract

We report on the results of a field experiment in Puebla, Mexico that informed randomly-selected households facing a nonlinear price schedule about how different electricity-consuming actions might change their electricity bills.

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Policy Briefs

For wind and solar, big is (usually) better

Mark Thurber
Energy for Growth Hub, 2019 September 12, 2019

Thurber:  "Big is beautiful" for wind and solar

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Books

Coal

Mark C. Thurber
Polity, 2019 March 8, 2019

By making available the almost unlimited energy stored in prehistoric plant matter, coal enabled the industrial age – and it still does. Coal today generates more electricity worldwide than any other energy source, helping to drive economic growth in major emerging markets. And yet, continued reliance on this ancient rock carries a high price in smog and greenhouse gases.

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Working Papers

Assessing Opportunities for Solar Lanterns to Improve Educational Outcomes in Rural Off-Grid Regions: Challenges and Lessons from a Randomized Controlled Trial

Ognen Stojanovski, Mark Thurber, Frank Wolak, George Muwowo, Kat Harrison
Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, 2018 September 18, 2018

Solar lanterns are promoted across rural Sub-Saharan Africa to improve both lighting in homes and educational outcomes. We undertake a randomized controlled trial in Zimba District, Zambia, to evaluate whether solar lanterns help children study more effectively and improve academic performance. Our research design accounts for potential income effects arising from the giveaways of lanterns and also “blinds” participants to the study’s purpose.

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Policy Briefs

Gas-to-Power Value Chain

Mark Thurber
Energy for Growth Hub, 2018 September 4, 2018

Many countries with electricity shortages - such as Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique, and Tanzania - have large gas reserves but face challenges developing gas for power.

The gas-to-power value chain can break down in many places and is rarely financially viable if the power sector is not.  Successful development of domestic gas for domestic power requires careful attention to gas and electricity pricing.  International companies and governments may be incentivized to take the more straightforward payout from exports, even where domestic gas use could add more value to the economy.

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Policy Briefs

Gas-fired generation in a high-renewables world

Mark Thurber
Stanford Natural Gas Initiative, 2018 June 1, 2018

Are gas and renewables good for each other, or are they on a collision course?  We explored this question using a multi-player, web-based game.

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Journal Articles

Rural energy access through solar home systems: Use patterns and opportunities for improvement

Ognen Stojanovski, Mark C. Thurber, Frank Wolak
Energy for Sustainable Development, Volume 37, 2017 April 1, 2017
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Policy Briefs

The costs of fossil-free development

Mark Thurber
Stanford Natural Gas Initiative, 2017 March 1, 2017

Climage change is a serious global threat with impacts that are already being felt.  In response, a growing number of environmentalists are taking the position that there should be no new energy developments that involve fossil fuels in any form.

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Books

The Global Coal Market: Supplying the Major Fuel for Emerging Economies

Mark C. Thurber, Richard K. Morse
Cambridge University Press, 2015 August 21, 2015

Coal has been the world's fastest-growing energy source in absolute terms for over a decade. Coal also emits more CO2 than any other fossil fuel and contributes to serious air pollution problems in many regions of the world. If we hope to satisfy the demand for affordable energy in emerging economies while protecting the environment, we need to develop a keen understanding of the market that supplies coal. This book offers an in-depth analysis of the key producers and consumers that will most influence coal production, transport, and use in the future.

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Journal Articles

Simulating the interaction of a renewable portfolio standard with electricity and carbon markets

Mark C. Thurber, Trevor L. Davis, Frank A. Wolak
The Electricity Journal, 2015 May 1, 2015

The authors ran a game-based simulation of an electricity market with both an RPS and a cap-and-trade market for greenhouse gas emissions allowances. High renewable energy shares reduced and shifted the output of thermal units and pushed down both electricity and carbon prices. The markets for renewable energy, carbon allowances, and spot and forward electricity interacted in complex ways that are relevant to the behavior of actual markets.

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Journal Articles

‘Oorja’ in India: Assessing a large-scale commercial distribution of advanced biomass stoves to households

Mark C. Thurber, Himani Phadke, Sriniketh Nagavarapu, Gireesh Shrimali, Hisham Zerriffi
Energy for Sustainable Development, 2014 April 20, 2014

Replacing traditional stoves with advanced alternatives that burn more cleanly has the potential to ameliorate major health problems associated with indoor air pollution in developing countries. With a few exceptions, large government and charitable programs to distribute advanced stoves have not had the desired impact.

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Journal Articles

To Promote Adoption of Household Health Technologies, Think Beyond Health

Mark C. Thurber, Christina Warner, Lauren Platt, Xander Slaski, Rajesh Gupta, Grant Miller
American Journal of Public Health, 2013 October 1, 2013

Health risks from poor malaria control, unsafe water, and indoor air pollution are responsible for an important share of the global disease burden—and they can be addressed by efficacious household health technologies that have existed for decades. However, coverage rates of these products among populations at risk remain disappointingly low. We conducted a review of the medical and public health literatures and found that health considerations alone are rarely sufficient motivation for households to adopt and use these technologies.

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Journal Articles

Carbon in the classroom: Lessons from a simulation of California’s electricity market under a stringent cap and trade system

Mark C. Thurber, Frank Wolak
The Electricity Journal, 2013 August 4, 2013

This paper summarizes the lessons learned from implementing a realistic, game-based simulation of California’s electricity market with a cap-and-trade market for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fixed-price forward financial contracts for energy. Sophisticated market participants competed to maximize their returns under stressed (high carbon price) market conditions. Our simulation exhibited volatile carbon prices that could be influenced by strategic behavior of market participants.

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Policy Briefs

Risk Attitudes Shape National Oil Company Strategies

Mark C. Thurber, David Hults
World Oil, 2012 June 1, 2012
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Books

Oil and Governance: State-owned Enterprises and the World Energy Supply

Mark C. Thurber, David G. Victor, David Hults, Mark C. Thurber
Cambridge University Press, 2012 January 1, 2012

National oil companies (NOCs) produce most of the world’s oil and natural gas and bankroll governments across the globe. Although NOCs superficially resemble private-sector companies, they often behave in very different ways. To understand these pivotal state-owned enterprises and the long shadow they cast on world energy markets, the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development (PESD) at Stanford University commissioned Oil and Governance: State-owned Enterprises and the World Energy Supply.

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Journal Articles

Improved stoves in India: A study of sustainable business models

Mark C. Thurber, Gireesh Shrimali, Xander Slaski, Mark C. Thurber, Hisham Zerriffi
Energy Policy, 2011 August 1, 2011

Abstract:

Burning of biomass for cooking is associated with health problems and climate change impacts. Many previous efforts to disseminate improved stoves – primarily by governments and NGOs – have not been successful. Based on interviews with 12 organizations selling improved biomass stoves, we assess the results to date and future prospects of commercial stove operations in India.

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Journal Articles

Exporting the 'Norwegian Model': The effect of administrative design on oil sector performance

Mark C. Thurber, David Hults, Patrick R. P. Heller
Energy Policy, 2011 June 14, 2011

Abstract

Norway has administered its petroleum resources using three distinct government bodies: a national oil company engaged in commercial hydrocarbon operations; a government ministry to direct policy; and a regulatory body to provide oversight and technical expertise. Norway's relative success in managing its hydrocarbons has prompted development institutions to consider whether this “Norwegian Model” of separated government functions should be recommended to other oil-producing countries.

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Working Papers

On the State's Choice of Oil Company: Risk Management and the Frontier of the Petroleum Industry

Peter A. Nolan, Mark C. Thurber
Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, 2010 December 1, 2010

Conventional wisdom holds that oil sector nationalizations are rooted in political motives of the petroleum states, which perceive value in the direct control of resource development though a state enterprise.  State motives are inarguably important.  At the same time, we argue in this paper that constraints of risk significantly affect a state's choice of which agent to employ to extract its hydrocarbons.  Implicit in much current debate is the idea that private, international oil companies (IOCs) and the state-controlled, national oil companies (NOCs) are direct competitors, and that the

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Working Papers

NNPC and Nigeria's Oil Patronage Ecosystem

Mark C. Thurber, Ifeyinwa M. Emelife, Patrick R. P. Heller
Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, 2010 September 1, 2010

Nigeria depends heavily on oil and gas, with hydrocarbon activities providing around 65 percent of total government revenue and 95 percent of export revenues.  While Nigeria supplies some LNG to world markets and is starting to export a small amount of gas to Ghana via pipeline, the great majority of the country's hydrocarbon earnings come from oil.  In 2008, Nigeria was the 5th largest oil exporter and 10th largest holder of proved oil reserves in the world according to the U.S.

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Working Papers

Norway's Evolving Champion: Statoil and the Politics of State Enterprise

Mark C. Thurber, Benedicte Tangen Istad
Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, 2010 May 1, 2010

Executive summary:

Statoil was founded in 1972 as the national oil company (NOC) of Norway.  Along with Brazil's Petrobras, Statoil today is a leader in several technological areas including operations in deep water.  With its arm's length relationship to the Norwegian government and partially-private ownership, it is generally considered to be among the state-controlled oil companies most similar to an international oil company in governance, business strategy, and performance.

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