Professor Pinho will be teaching at Renmin University in Beijing this summer.
Pinho explained that over the next 25 years, more than 90% of increased energy demand and consumption will come from non-OECD countries. China is already the leading consumer, and will continute to be so.
Pinho plans to meet with folks working in companies in the energy sector, which he says are the largest companies in the world, with the most innovation and investment. That’s why he finds it very important to get to know them better.
- Michelle Chahine
Aly Sanoh, PhD in Sustainable Development Candidate, expected to graduate in May 2012.
During his six years in SIPA’s PhD program, Sanoh has focused on national electricity planning in and across African countries. He has published his first two papers on this topic:
Sanoh has already made a difference in real-world policy decisions. The infrastructure modeling that he did in these papers for local and national electricity planning in Senegal and Kenya was a factor in the World Bank’s decision to finance a $20 million wind project in Senegal and a $60 million energy project in Kenya, according to him.
A central topic of his thesis has been an infrastructure development project that looks at expanding electricity networks in Africa on a continental scale by conducting economic modeling.
For example, there are security issues. The Congo has a lot of resources and little need, while South Africa has little resources and high need. However, there are risks in having your resources depend on a country that’s at war. Sanoh proposes different scenarios to minimize risks.
- Michelle Chahine
“Oil Bills: Will they erase our doubts?“ was published in the Ugandan newspaper The Daily Monitor while SIPA Professor Jenik Radon and his students were in Uganda in March doing field research for a Capstone Workshop. Professor Radon and Marie-Paule Jeansonne (MIA ‘12) are both quoted in this article, commenting on the latest draft of two petroleum bills currently being considered by the Ugandan Parliament.
Eight SIPA students have been working on a Capstone Workshop that focuses on Uganda’s “Oil Bills,” conducting research to make recommendations on ways to effectively legislate and manage newly found oil reserves.
The team’s initial comment on the legislation, which was put together by Jeansonne and Sri Swaminathan (MPA ‘12) under the guidance of Professor Radon, has been quoted in various media outlets in Uganda, including The Daily Monitor (above) and The Independent (“Parliament to pass weak laws on oil”).
The students and Professor Radon also presented their comments and recommendations in-person to 15 members of the Ugandan Parliament’s Natural Resource Committee.
The team presents its recommendations to Members of Parliament in Uganda. At right, Professor Radon and Jeansonne.
According to Professor Radon, the team’s two biggest recommendations are:
- to have a stronger system of checks and balances, with an emphasis on transparency;
- not to concentrate decision-making in one individual
During their time in Uganda in mid-March, the team also organized meetings with individuals from government ministries, members of Parliament (governing and opposition), civil society, Ugandan citizens, international donors, foreign embassies, and international and local media.
“We tried to identify what they see as the biggest issues and problems,” said Jeansonne. “By then, we already had ideas about what our recommendations would be, so our field trip was a good chance to test them. We had to make sure our report was something that could be actionable and something Ugandans could relate to.”
While Nithin Coca (MIA ‘12), Kazumi Kawamoto (MIA ‘12), Ida Dokk Smith (MIA ‘12) and Frithiof August Wilhelmsen (MIA ‘13) conducted interviews in the capital city Kampala, Chitra Choudhury (MIA/Journalism ‘12) and Frazer Lanier (MIA ‘12) travelled to the resource-rich “oil belt” region of Hoima, which shares a border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Choudhury and Lanier in Hoima.
“We conducted interviews with both local authorities and residents,” said Choudhury, “people who might be displaced, fishing communities that might be affected… We were trying to understand how far-removed people on the ground are from what’s going on in Parliament. It added an extra layer of understanding on the issues.”
Professor Radon added that one of the major images that has stuck in his mind from the students’ field research is that “the elephants are leaving” due to the drilling and vibrations.
“That’s something we found,” said Choudhury, “the environmental impact wasn’t being studied. The government is doing that now, with the help of NORAD [the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation].”
“You have to consider the full impacts,” Professor Radon added. “The importance of such a trip is you discover information from the locals. For example, there is a greater influx of fishing because of roads being built and increased access to [Lake Albert]. There’s overfishing, too much to be sustainable…. So these are the unintended consequences that you can only see on the ground.”
Jeansonne emphasized that because most of the oil drilling is on land, there are “grave implications for human rights, because people will be displaced.” This raises questions about compensation, how people should be displaced, and whether they should be displaced in the first place.
“Developing extractive industries is difficult to do in the best of circumstances,” Radon said. “So these questions need to be answered in the right way.”
- Michelle Chahine
From left to right, Dara Hourdajian, Kevin Lehman, David Ganske, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, and Jorge Ordonez. Photograph courtesy of Department of Energy website, Energy.gov
A team of five students from SIPA’s Energy Association won “Best Proposal” for one of four cases at the Department of Energy’s inaugural Better Buildings Case Competition, held in the White House on Friday, March 2nd, 2012.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the winners after an all-day event, where 110 students from 19 competing universities presented their proposals to judges in the Learning Annex of the White House.
The Better Buildings Case Competition, part of the Energy Department’s Better Buildings Challenge, reached out to the SIPA Energy Association (SEA) last semester, encouraging them to compete. This January, students from 19 schools received two different cases (Columbia University received the HEI Hotels and Resorts case and the City of Houston case). They had to submit a proposal for each case three weeks later and present at the White House a week after that. Both teams representing Columbia University were SEA student teams.
The winning proposal was for the HEI Hotels and Resorts Case. Dara Hourdajian (MPA ‘12), Kevin Lehman (MS ‘12 in Sustainability Management), David Ganske (MIA ‘13), Jorge Ordonez (MPA ‘13), and Tristan Wallace (MPA ‘13) submitted the proposal for a hotel energy efficiency plan, within certain restraints.
“When we first read through the case, the main challenge for us was to identify what was the objective. I think that set us apart from other groups,” said Hourdajian.
The objective, they found, was for a New Jersey hotel within the Marriott chain to make changes that would increase energy efficiency, with limited resources.
“Right away, we identified that this was a financial solution rather than a technical solution. So we started researching alternatives we could come up with,” explained Ordonez.
Their technique was to investigate what the State of New Jersey had to offer. They proposed depending on tax credits and incentives from the State of New Jersey rather than on financial assistance from the franchise, which was an objective that they had identified in the case.
“We saw that many universities tended to approach one side of the problem, instead of a comprehensive approach,” added Ordonez. “I think this was a strength of our case: being able to address the financial and policy side, making it attractive to industry professionals [who were the judges].”
The winning proposals will be posted on the Department of Energy’s website so people can have access to them and consider their recommendations.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to go back next year and defend the title,” Ordonez added.
- Michelle Chahine