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Policy Brief

Frank A. Wolak
Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, 2015
The shale oil and gas revolution in the United States (U.S.) has led to a more than 4 million barrels per day increase in domestic oil production since 2008. Combined with an almost 1 million barrel per day increase from the Alberta tar sands, the surge in North American oil production has significantly reduced the region’s demand for imported oil. Increased production of shale gas in North America and the significantly lower dollar per million British thermal unit (BTU) price of natural gas versus oil have caused a number of sectors of the U.S.
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Commentary

Frank Wolak
Boao Review, 2014

Significant political barriers to implementing na- tional climate policies exist in both the US and China. Successful linkage of regional climate policies in the two countries can help overcome these impediments. Each country can be seen as willing to cooperate with the other to address the global climate challenge, which can help each national government overcome the resistance to formulating its own national climate policy.

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Commentary

Frank Wolak
Los Angeles Times, Op-Ed, 2014

Last week, Stanford's Board of Trustees announced that the university would not directly invest funds from its endowment in coal mining companies.  Even the strongest advocates of this action acknowledge that it is a symbolic gesture with little direct effect on the coal industry or global greenhouse gas emissions.  But if a university administration wants to take symbolic (or real) action on climate change, is coal investment a wise choice?

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Commentary

Frank Wolak
New Zealand Herald, 2014

The desire to "reboot" the New Zealand electricity supply industry is understandable, but it is almost certainly not the best course of action. As a participant in many electricity industry restructuring processes around the world, one important lesson that I have learned is that all reforms start with significant unintended defects that can only be eliminated through a rigorous ongoing analysis of market outcomes and targeted regulatory reforms.  

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Journal Article

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

Frank Wolak
San Jose Mercury News, 2013

With the continued successful operation of its greenhouse gas emissions market, California can become a global leader in the design and implementation of regional carbon polices. Moreover, if more regions use the California market as their starting point, then linking these programs together will be more straightforward and the ultimate goal of an effective global climate policy the more likely end result.

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Journal Article

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

Frank Wolak
Boao Review, 2013

Unconventional natural gas and the technologies developed to extract it in the U.S. point to a possible lower carbon energy future for China that can be facilitated through international cooperation between them, improving China's reliance on domestically produced coal, and creating economic and environmental benefits for both countries as well as the rest of the world.

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Journal Article

Mark C. Thurber, Frank Wolak
The Electricity Journal, 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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Commentary

Frank Wolak
EnergyBiz, 2013

If regulators and utilities want to avoid future consumer backlash from smart grid investments, they should adopt retail pricing policies best suited to maximizing the consumer benefits from smart grid technologies.

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Working Paper

Alexander Galetovic, Cristián M. Muñoz
Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, 2013

Abstract

We compare the cost of generating electricity with coal and wind in Chile’s Central Interconnected System (SIC). Our estimates include the cost of marginal damages caused by coal plant emissions.

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Commentary

Frank Wolak
Sacramento Bee, 2012

To maximize environmental benefits from the rollout of its cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions, California should focus on achieving a positive demonstration effect from the program by doing as little as possible to harm the state's economy, as transparently as possible and as fast as possible.

 

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Book

Mark C. Thurber, David G. Victor, David Hults, Mark C. Thurber
Cambridge University Press, 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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Working Paper

Jianjun Tu
Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, 2011

China’s annual coal production, at 3.24 billion tonnes (Gt) in 2010, accounted for nearly half of the global total.  In this comprehensive analysis of China’s coal value chain, Jianjun Tu examines the industrial organization and structure of China’s coal production, transport, and consumption.  Tu’s study shines a light on one of the world’s largest and most complex energy markets and should be read by anyone with an interest in the future of coal, climate change, or global energy markets.

Key topics covered include:

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Journal Article

Mark C. Thurber, Gireesh Shrimali, Xander Slaski, Mark C. Thurber, Hisham Zerriffi
Energy Policy, 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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Working Paper

Frank Wolak
Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, 2011

This report proposes an ancillary services payment mechanism for the Chilean electricity supply industry. This is accomplished in three steps. The first section presents a set of economic principles for assessing the likely performance of candidate ancillary services payment mechanisms in the context of Chilean electricity supply industry. The second section uses this framework to assess the likely performance of the ancillary services payment mechanism recently proposed by the National Energy Commission (NEC) in its letter Number 715 dated September 21, 2010.

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Journal Article

Mark C. Thurber, David Hults, Patrick R. P. Heller
Energy Policy, 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 Paper

Arthur A. van Benthem, Suzi C. Kerr
Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, 2011

Voluntary opt-in programs to reduce emissions in unregulated sectors or countries have spurred considerable discussion. Since any regulator will make errors in predicting baselines and participants will self-select into the program, adverse selection will reduce efficiency and possibly environmental integrity. In contrast, pure subsidies lead to full participation but require large financial transfers.

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