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Renewable Energy (ES99F-15)


Overall, at least 1.6 billion people—one-fourth of the world’s population—currently live without electricity and this number has hardly changed in absolute terms since 1970. And yet, the electricity required for people to read at night, pump a minimal amount of drinking water and listen to radio broadcasts would amount to less than 1 percent of overall global energy demand.

Developing and emerging economies face thus a two-fold energy challenge in the 21st century: Meeting the needs of billions of people who still lack access to basic, modern energy services while simultaneously participating in a global transition to clean, low-carbon energy systems. And historic rates of progress toward increased efficiency, de-carbonization, greater fuel diversity and lower pollutant emissions need to be greatly accelerated in order to do so.

To a significant extent, fortunately, the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions may be aligned with the pursuit of other energy-related objectives, such as developing indigenous renewable resources and reducing local forms of pollution. This module will be delivered by specialists in bioenergy, biotechnology and renewable energy.

Module aims

To impart advanced understanding of the principles of modern renewable energy technologies, including biofuels from a variety of sources, wind power, solar energy, geothermal, ocean and hydro power and ethical and practical considerations. The particular focus will be given to the limitations and restrictions in developing countries.
Students will gain a diverse theoretical understanding of the future and current renewable technologies for power production, evaluate the fundamental principles underlying the energy production/conversion and interrogate the social and environmental impacts of renewable energy technologies.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

The module will consist of 5 major topics listed as below. The module leader will attend all of each session, to integrate and stimulate the interdisciplinary learning.

The core design is that the module leader and subject specialists will choose how they wish to deliver a combination of discipline or application grounded material with activities that will allow the students (with the module leader) to develop their learning in an interdisciplinary style that will help them to explore and deepen their knowledge of the theories and set texts/materials. Active learning methods (i.e. Team Based Learning; Open Space Learning) will be implemented in order to heighten student engagement and understanding of the topic.

  1. Sustainability and Energy use
    This lecture will present and assess the current resources, energy use and production scale and their availability. It will then follow a brief outline of existing and proposed renewable energy sources and assess their economic and societal impacts and challenges. An interactive workshop session will be done to critically discuss the pros and cons of different renewable energy technologies for a sustainable society.

  2. Solar & hydrogen energy and energy storage
    In this lecture solar thermal and solar photovoltaics will be introduced. Their current technology and setbacks for large scale applications will be presented. Novel approaches, new trends and future potential will be discussed by using examples from recent research. Hydrogen economy concept will be introduced. Batteries, their working principles, energy storage options and challenges will be covered. An interactive workshop session will cover the critical assessment of local small-scale applications for developing countries.

  3. Hydro, wind and geothermal energy
    Principles of hydro power technology, ocean current, tidal & wave energy: technology, economics, challenges and current research and projects will be discussed. Ground source and geothermal energy: principles, operation, future scope will be discussed. Wind energy will be introduced; wind turbines and power generating technologies will be thoroughly presented and technical challenges will be discussed. An interactive workshop session will cover the assessment of the technology for the context of developing countries.

  4. Biomass and Bioenergy
    This part will look at the principles of modern bioenergy; obtaining biofuels from a variety of biomass resources, i.e. agricultural waste, municipal waste, industrial food waste etc. Biomass chemistry, biomass treatment methods and design for the conversion of biomass will be critically evaluated. Students will gain a thorough understanding of the potential for sustainable biotechnologies for power generation as well as the fundamental thermodynamic principles underlying biomass formation/production and energy conversion. Production of biopolymers from biomass will be touched upon. An interactive workshop session will cover the critical assessment of local small-scale applications for developing countries.

  5. Circular economy and Life cycle analysis.
    The concept of circular energy and resource management will be introduced. This day will describe the principals of analysing the existing or proposed technologies from cradle to grave. We will look at how to conduct an overall Carbon Footprint/Life Cycle Analysis with various renewable energy technology examples. Ethical issues surrounding the implementation of different technologies will be critically assessed. An interactive session will cover an example in developing country context.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Develop a critical understanding of renewable energy technologies and a research-informed knowledge of some of the key promising developments in the field.
  • Demonstrate an advanced knowledge and comprehensive understanding of design processes and methodologies for renewable energy systems and the ability to apply them to new situations.
  • Interpret concepts from a range of areas such as engineering, economics, legislation, health and safety, environmental and social impacts for assessment of renewable energy technologies and systems in order to evaluate their suitability and efficacy.
  • Critique current practice and its limitations as well as likely new and advanced developments at the forefront of renewable energy technology.
  • Apply their skills in problem solving, communication (written and oral; to technical and non-technical audiences), and information retrieval.
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of and an ability to interpret, apply and resolve the scientific concepts and principles underpinning renewable energy technologies.


Week 4

Commencing 24/10/22


WT0.02 & WT.04 (Westwood)

Angeles Rivero Pacho

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