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Navigating Energy Choices in the 21st Century

What has been called the "oil century" is now history, and finding clean and abundant fuels that address environmental and security concerns clearly looms as a central challenge to an expanding global economy in the decades ahead. Extracting new forms of energy from the earth will grow ever more complex, requiring technology breakthroughs, market incentives, and difficult trade-offs.

In this Resources Special Report, RFF researchers examine the key energy options and assess how each stacks up in availability, environmental and technological considerations, international security, and cost projections.


Link to Resources magazine
Winter 2005, Issue 156

Among the choices--fossil fuels, hydrogen, nuclear power, renewable sources--which are most likely to ensure a sustainable energy future for the United States and the world? Not surprisingly, these articles conclude, the devil is in the details. (Each article is available below as a PDF download.)


An Energy Options Matrix

Setting energy policy in the 21st century requires balancing competing factors and making tough choices. For example, framing an argument in favor of promoting coal over natural gas to produce electricity would involve weighing lower costs against greater environmental liabilities. This interactive energy options matrix provides a framework of how various energy options stack up in terms of availability, costs, environmental and security concerns, and technological challenges.

Link to Interactive Framework for Understanding Energy Resources
 A Framework for Understanding Energy Resources
(Requires the Flash Player)


  Link to Resources article

Setting Energy Policy in the Modern Era: Tough Challenges Lie Ahead
William A. Pizer

William A. Pizer, an RFF fellow, studies the design of policies to address climate change risks caused by man-made emissions of greenhouse gases. He also is a senior economist at the National Commission on Energy Policy.


Link to Congressional Testimony

Petroleum: Energy independence is Unrealistic
Ian W.H. Parry and  J.W. Anderson

Senior Fellow Ian Parry looks at a wide range of policy approaches to address the social and political costs of motor vehicle use, including gasoline taxes, transportation financing, and fuel economy standards.  J.W. Anderson is a former staff writer for The Washington Post who serves as RFF's journalist in residence.


Link to Congressional Testimony

Natural Gas: Supply Problems are Key
Raymond J. Kopp

Senior Fellow Raymond J. Kopp studies the environmental aspects of energy policy and technological responses to environmental issues and geopolitical stability.


Link to Congressional Testimony

The Hydrogen Economy: Laying out the Groundwork
Richard G. Newel

Richard G. Newell an RFF fellow, analyzes the economics of technological change, looking at the influence of government programs and market incentives on energy technologies.


Link to Congressional Testimony

Renewable Sources of Electricity: Safe Bet or Tilting at Windmills?

Joel Darmstadter and Karen Palmer

In his recent work, Senior Fellow Joel Darmstadter addresses energy, climate change, and the economic viability of renewable sources of energy. Senior Fellow Karen Palmer is an expert on the environmental and economic consequences of deregulation and restructuring of the electricity industry.


  Link to Congressional Testimony

Nuclear Power: Clean, Costly, and Controversial
Paul Portney

RFF President and Senior Fellow Paul Portney is an expert on the role of economic analysis in energy and environmental regulation, especially the regulation of automobiles, power plants, and other industrial facilities.


Link to Congressional Testimony

Coal: Dirty Cheap Energy
J.W. Anderson

J.W. Anderson is a former staff writer for The Washington Post who serves as RFF's journalist in residence.

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