IAEE Training Program

10 Big Ideas in Energy – What Everyone Needs to Know 

Host: Adonis Yatchew
Venue: Amphi sc.071
CentraleSupélec Batiment Bouygues
Univers simulation Rez-de-chaussée
91192 Gif Sur Yvette

Course material: See pdf
How to get to the venue: See pdf
Cost: Students and Young Professionals €140
           Regular registrations €230

We are in the midst of an historic energy transition with global consequences. How does a layperson begin to develop an understanding of the decisions that continue to shape our economies, the environment and geopolitics? Where does an instructor begin when teaching a basic course on energy? These tasks are even more daunting in today’s era of fake news and changing political norms.
This course assembles ‘10 Big Ideas’ that are foundational to appreciating the complexities of today’s energy issues. Drawing on economics, politics and geopolitics, history and the applied sciences, the course outlines a series of simple cross-disciplinary narratives which provide a basis for thinking about these energy challenges.

Learning Outcomes: Participants will consider and evaluate 10 big ideas on energy which form the core of this course. The ideas are useful in considering such questions as:

    • How do long-term political trends affect energy policy and regulation?
    • How does one think about the proper role of government in energy markets?
    • What kinds of incentives are effective in driving innovation?
    • How can history inform our understanding of energy transitions and their consequences?

Participants will also have the opportunity to propose and discuss other ideas which they consider to be critical.

Target Audience: The course should be of interest to young energy professionals, academics teaching courses in energy economics and related fields, individuals working in regulatory and policy environments, and those who want to refresh their understanding of key energy ideas. Members of the business community who would benefit from a ‘big picture’ approach might also wish to attend.


  1. Energy Basics (60 minutes)
    Where does energy come from? How has the ability to harness energy shaped major periods in history? How did energy-related innovations lead to globalization? Why are we so dependent on carbon-based energy? What critical energy innovations have led to the modern age? How can historic energy transitions inform our understanding of the present one.

  2. Energy Politics and Geopolitics (90 minutes)
    Historical and political contexts matter. How have political super-cycles shaped energy policies? How does one begin thinking about institutional design; what principles are fundamental? How should national security issues inform energy policy?

  3. Energy Economics (60 minutes)
    What are the main sources and uses of energy in a market economy? What determines the structure and regulation of energy industries? How can we deal with market failures? Is carbon pricing sufficient for overcoming the carbon externality? Why/why not? Which sectors are more amenable to decarbonization, which ones are less so?

  4. Innovation and Transformation (90 minutes)
    What drives innovation? What principles should underlie innovation policy? How is scalability transforming hydrocarbon and electricity industries? Can ‘alternative energy’ sources revolutionize our global energy mix? Will they be affordable in the developing world? How do contemporary political trends (e.g., nationalism, populism and the retreat of democracy) affect efforts to deal with climate change?

  5. Ten Big Ideas (60 minutes)
    The closing session summarizes the ‘ten big ideas’ put forth over the course of the day. Throughout, participants are encouraged to ask questions and to engage in discussion. During this session, participants will be asked for additional ‘big ideas’ that might belong on the list.
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