Mark Thurber

Mark Thurber
Contact Info

Research Interests

  • Diffusion of central and distributed energy technologies
  • Reform of state-owned enterprises in energy
  • Business models of energy provision to the very poor


Mark C. Thurber is Associate Director of the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development (PESD) at Stanford University. The Program studies how policy and regulation intersect with business strategy, economics, and technology to determine global patterns of energy production and use (and the associated health, climate, and local environmental impacts).

Dr. Thurber directs the research at PESD on how energy services can more effectively be delivered to low-income populations. He has written several academic articles on how design, demographic, and distribution factors affect uptake and usage of improved biomass stoves in India. Current research explores entrepreneurial efforts to provide solar home systems to households in East Africa.

Dr. Thurber also studies the role of state-owned enterprises in the most important energy markets around the world. He co-edited and contributed to a major volume on national oil companies, Oil and Governance: State-owned Enterprises and the World Energy Supply. He is currently editing a book manuscript on the emerging global market for coal.

Along with Frank Wolak, Dr. Thurber teaches a course on “Energy Markets and Policy” in Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. In this course, Thurber and Wolak run a classroom simulation of California’s electricity market under cap and trade. With the support of the Precourt Institute for Energy and the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy, they are expanding this simulation to incorporate renewable energy policies and various carbon market design features.

Dr. Thurber holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University in Mechanical Engineering (Thermosciences) and a B.S.E. from Princeton University in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering with a certificate from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Before coming to PESD, Mark worked in high-tech industry, focusing on manufacturing operations in Mexico (where he lived for several years), China, and Malaysia.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD, Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, 1994-99
  • MS, Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, 1992-94
  • BSE, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, 1988-92

Academic Appointments

  • Associate Director for Research, Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, Stanford University, 2007-present
  • Lecturer, Stanford GSB 2016-present

Professional Experience

  • Supplier Management Engineer, Hitachi GST, 2005-07
  • Metrology Manager Hitachi, GST Mexico, 2003-05
  • Development Engineer, IBM, 1999-03


Degree Courses


This is a course on how energy and environmental markets work, and the regulatory mechanisms that have been and can be used to achieve desired policy goals. The course uses a electricity market game as a central teaching tool. In the game,...


Transforming the global energy system to reduce climate change impacts, ensure security of supply, and foster economic development of the world's poorest regions depends on the ability of commercial players to deliver the needed energy at scale....