Hopkins San Francisco Bay Area: "Renewables: The Politics of a Global Energy Transition" featuring SAIS Professor Johannes Urpelainen

Event Date

Hopkins San Francisco Bay Area & San Francisco SAIS Club 

Wind and solar are the most dynamic components of the global power sector. How did this happen? After the 1973 oil crisis, the limitations of an energy system based on fossil fuels created an urgent need to experiment with alternatives, and some pioneering governments reaped political gains by investing heavily in alternative energy such as wind or solar power. Public policy enabled growth over time, and economies of scale brought down costs dramatically. 

Drawing on his new book Renewables: The Politics of a Global Energy Transition, Professor Johannes Urpelainen offers a comprehensive political analysis of the rapid growth in renewable wind and solar power, mapping an energy transition through theory, case studies, and policy analysis. Professor Urpelainen argues that, because the fossil fuel energy system and political support for it were so entrenched, only an external shock—an abrupt rise in oil prices, or a nuclear power accident, for example—allowed renewable energy to grow. The talk examines the pioneering efforts in the United States, Germany, and Denmark after the 1973 oil crisis and other shocks; explains why the United States surrendered its leadership role in renewable energy; and traces the recent rapid growth of modern renewables in electricity generation, describing, among other things, China’s renewable energy leadership and the return of wind and solar to the United States. 


5:30-6:00 p.m. - Networking reception and light hors d'ouevres
6:00-7:00 p.m. - Talk and Question & Answer
7:00-7:30 p.m. - post event networking


Johannes Urpelainen is the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Professor of Energy, Resources and Environment (HERE) at Johns Hopkins SAIS. He is also the Director of the ERE Program and the Founding Director of the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP). He received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Michigan in 2009 and spent the next eight years at Columbia University.

Johannes is the award-winning author of four books and over a hundred refereed articles on environmental politics, energy policy, and global governance. He teaches action-oriented classes on energy and environmental policy to equip the next generation of global leaders with deep knowledge, advanced analytical skills — and a passion for transformational social change. As one of the world’s top energy policy experts, Johannes frequently advises governments, international organizations, and the private sector on energy and environment.