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Energy, Sustainability and the Environment:
New Business Opportunities & Challenges

Climate issues are triggering a new realm of business challenges and opportunities as companies seek to minimize carbon output and energy costs, and assess alternative sources of energy.

In response to student demand, EMTM has introduced a new Energy, Sustainability and the Environment course cluster focusing on the practical application of relevant science, business management concepts and public policy developments. Courses will focus on ways to take strategic advantage of constantly evolving energy technologies and markets.

“Our new Energy, Sustainability and the Environment cluster is designed to give students the quantitative skills to know when alternative sources of power will be a viable choice for their business or industry and to navigate new markets created by carbon emissions trading,” says Dwight Jaggard, director of the EMTM program and Penn professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering. “Some students may also find these new courses helpful as they evaluate and potentially pursue new career opportunities within the energy sector.”

“Climate change is a given,” says Andrew Huemmler, Ph.D., who taught EMTM’s new Energy Commerce & Policy course during the winter term. “There is overwhelming scientific evidence. What’s new is a staggering realm of related business opportunities in an emerging economy that will sooner or later put a price on greenhouse gas emissions. This problem isn’t going away. The value of avoiding putting carbon into the atmosphere will surely increase over the long-term. Many players will want to enter this market; and it will be very messy in its early stages. The opportunities for risk and reward will be great. But firms that figure out any little corner of the coming low carbon economy and get in there early are going to experience huge first mover advantages.”

Huemmler, a 20-year veteran of Exelon Corporation, most recently bought and sold electricity in wholesale power markets for the firm, one of the nation’s largest electric utilities. The course he developed for EMTM focuses on the modern energy system (comprised primarily of the oil-based transportation system and the electricity grid, which Huemmler describes as “the most expensive machine humankind has ever built”).

“If we want to change the energy system, we should probably understand how it works,” Huemmler says. “It’s not a simple machine.” Emerging energy alternatives are also covered with attention to how they will compete or connect with the existing energy infrastructure. The critical impact of public policy in shaping energy markets is addressed. ‘Cap and trade’ strategies and how to develop a corporate carbon plan are also covered.

Another new EMTM course, Sustainable Energy Options, provides in-depth technical analysis of existing and emerging alternative energy sources (such as solar, wind power, hydroelectric, geothermal, nuclear and biomass fuels) and will focus on scalability, cost, efficiency, market-readiness, and mass and energy balances. Sean Holleran, Ph.D., a lecturer in Penn’s department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, leads this spring term course which features guest speakers who have expertise implementing alternative energy sources.

“We’re going to give people an understanding of just how close these new energy sources are to being far enough along to displace current energy technologies,” says Holleran. “Because decisions about where to purchase energy and how to create sustainable processes will soon become unavoidable, business leaders will increasingly need the skills to assess emerging energy sources.”

Jaggard is additionally working to recruit faculty for a possible third related course on topics related to sustainability and the environmental impact of commerce.

William Good, EMTM’02, vice president with Princeton-based BlackLight Power, Inc., sees value in EMTM’s new course cluster. “These courses provide an intellectual framework to understand the challenges inherent in modern energy systems such as government interaction and incentives, pollution and related regulatory matters, capital investment costs, deployment costs, financing, and the trajectory of technologies and price points over time. When you’re looking at ways to improve a company’s carbon footprint you have to understand the business side as well as the technology side.”

According to Good, BlackLight Power has developed a hydrogen energy technology that is environmentally friendly and commercially competitive with fossil fuels and nuclear power. The company has licensed six firms to use the BlackLight technology for up to 8000 megawatts of electric capacity and is in negotiations with more partner companies around the world. “We believe we have the clean power source that will displace coal, gas and other sources of fuels in the trillion dollar energy market,” says Good. “Eight years after completing EMTM as an executive in a start-up alternative energy company, I use my EMTM training on an almost daily basis doing revenue projects, analyzing the penetration rates of new technology and understanding the challenges inherent in the early adoption of disruptive technologies.”

For Christopher M. McCormick, EMTM’05, Energy Principal with Lockheed Martin, the new course cluster seems an ideal fit with EMTM’s mandate. “Climate policy as it’s enacted will affect how companies operate — especially those that generate significant amounts of carbon such as utilities and big industrial producers. Leaders working to optimize energy infrastructure need to be able to pull together technical, strategic and financial perspectives to build out the path ahead. People need to understand the challenges of implementing renewable energy source solutions and distributed generation. For instance, the net effect of things like solar panels and windmills on infrastructure is significant.”

“Every company in today’s economy is looking at how to meet their bottom line financial objectives and do something good for the environment. The key thing is you have to try to do both,” adds McCormick, whose job with Lockheed involves serving as project manager for cyber security for a utility sub-station automation project. “A lot of my work is about risk reduction with security and energy costs, and fixing problems up-front to reduce construction costs and avoid building solutions that won’t work. For any company out there building a project of any size there is an environmental part of that project. Lockheed views energy as a national security issue whether it’s about the sustainability of the infrastructure or the dependence on oil from other countries. We’re looking at how to make infrastructure more efficient, more reliable and more sustainable to reduce those dependencies.”

“My EMTM training has helped me immeasurably,” adds McCormick “Thanks to EMTM, I know how to project profit and loss, manage overhead costs, structure our organization, and pull together the technical and strategic side of things to build out an executable strategy with targeted markets we can hit.”

Even for EMTM students not working directly in energy, the new course cluster is useful, says Good. “You can bring a lot of value to your employer by helping to focus on the energy-related solutions and market advantages that can be gained in this new environment in which sustainability can drive profitability. These courses are spot-on in helping people understand the inner workings, gears and drivers of the energy sector. With this understanding, an EMTM student can step in and contribute to the sustainability directives of their employer by shaping an optimal strategy to execute.”


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Energy, Sustainability and the Environment: New Business Opportunities & Challenges

“Our new Energy, Sustainability and the Environment cluster is designed to give students the quantitative skills to know when alternative sources of power will be a viable choice for their business or industry and to navigate new markets created by carbon emissions trading.”

Dwight L. Jaggard
Professor of Electrical & Systems Engineering
Director, EMTM Program
Univeristy of Pennsylvania

Andrew Huemmler

“If we want to change the energy system, we should probably understand how it works. It’s not a simple machine.”

Andrew Huemmler, Ph.D.
Lecturer — Electrical & Systems Engineering
Lecturer — Earth & Environmental Science
University of Pennsylvania

Sean Holleran

“Decisions about where to purchase energy and how to create sustainable processes will soon become unavoidable, business leaders will increasingly need the skills to assess emerging energy sources.”

Dr. Sean Holleran
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
University of Pennsylvania

“Climate policy as it’s enacted will affect how companies operate — especially those that generate significant amounts of carbon such as utilities and big industrial producers. Leaders working to optimize energy infrastructure need to be able to pull together technical, strategic and financial perspectives to build out the path ahead.”

Christopher M. McCormick, EMTM’05
Energy Principal
Lockheed Martin

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