Center for Energy Studies explores economic and policy implications of traditional and renewable energy - The University of Tulsa
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Center for Energy Studies explores economic and policy implications of traditional and renewable energy

Eric Olson and Buford Pollett

Launched in spring 2023, The University of Tulsa’s Center for Energy Studies is taking a leading role in the interdisciplinary study, teaching, and public communication of the complex economic and policy issues associated with energy expansion and transition around the world.

“Research, education, and outreach are our bedrock,” said Eric Olson, the center’s inaugural director and an associate professor of finance. “We envision the center as a place where academics, students, and industry meet. It will support work among disciplines aimed at understanding the policy implications of the energy transition and sharing them with sector partners, government, and the wider public.”

Olson points to the importance of policy-informed cost-benefit analyses, such as how governments can mitigate the disproportionate effects on lower-income people of inflation associated with phasing out gas-powered vehicles. Similarly, he and a finance student are examining the financial consequences of permitting for new energy projects, such as wind farms and pipelines.

Partnerships with traditional and alternative energy firms bolster the center’s work. Helping steer this aspect is Anne Grau, an applied assistant professor who brings decades of experience in the oil sector: “We recently formed an Executive Advisory Board, whose members will help keep our curricula current, suggest fresh areas of research, and provide data.”

Industry-related research underway includes a study for Chevron by Professors Buford Pollett and Ty Johannes on carbon capture utilization and storage for the Port of Catoosa and Oklahoma power plants; and an economic input study for TC Energy examining the hydrogen node project in the Port of Inola, conducted by Grau, Professors Anila Madhan and Tally Ferguson, and three TU students.

Fall 2023 also saw the launch of the center’s Energy Fellows initiative. Its aim is to provide financial and organizational support to TU faculty to engage in research on policy implications associated with energy issues and sharing their findings with the public.

“Faculty-student interaction is the heartbeat of TU,” remarked Olson. “In keeping with this spirit, each Energy Fellow will include students in their research.” The center has also re-established the Sustainability Club, which welcomes students from across the university, and is working with CaneCareers to organize an energy-focused recruiting event at TU’s fall career fair.