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Alternative Energy Strategies


Admission requirements


  • Energy Science (200)

  • Quantitative Research Methods (200)


What does our energy future look like? Perhaps we will see solar installations in the Sahara, or the Atlantic coast lined with wave energy generators, from Scotland to Portugal. We might see hundreds of new nuclear power stations and tidal installations, along with wind turbines on every hill and ridgeline.

In this course, we will investigate what efforts are needed to decarbonize our modern society, and whether it is possible to keep up with increasing world population and energy demands. We will investigate future energy scenarios and quantify their influence on anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

The first part of the course will cover the technologies needed for harnessing renewable energy, including energy storage, electricity transmission, electric vehicles, and jet fuel alternatives. We will also investigate technologies needed for reducing energy use, such as smart meters, passive heating/cooling, and grid monitoring.

We will then examine the political and scientific arguments surrounding energy intensity. Is it really possible to decouple economic growth and energy usage?

Students will develop several models for energy forecasting. By balancing multiple generation types, they will evaluate these models for their contribution to emissions reductions, social development, and public health.

Course Objectives

This course builds and extends upon the scientific knowledge and approaches developed in the course Energy Science. Students will devise several models of future energy and economy growth using the Kaya identity. They will use the fundamental equations of climate change and energy use to develop future strategies which mitigate against temperature increases. Students will gain further confidence in devising, manipulating, and computing equations.

  • Students will be able to sythesise and evaluate thearoies, ideas and predictions of future energy scenarios

  • Students will apply the knowledge they have learnt over the course to evaluate energy scenario ability to mitigate environmental change

  • Students will apply knowledge of energy modelling in developing future scenarios


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2021-2022 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This course will consist of structured lectures including class discussions based on cutting edge science along with example calculations. The course will also feature guest lectures from energy professionals.

Assessment Method


Reading list

Compulsory Equipment:

You must have a calculator for this course, purchase one as soon as possible. A standard scientific calculator is sufficient, and should cost no more than 15 Euros. An example calculator is the Casio FX82.

Compulsory Readings:

A number of readings will be made available throughout the course and will be provided through blackboard. These will include journal publications and news coverage of energy science and issues.

Recommended Readings:


  • McKay, D., 2008, Without the hot air, UIT (ISBN: 978-0954452933), 384pp (a great primer on modern energy issues in the UK, and free at read the extra notes and technical chapters too.)

  • Yergin, D., 2011, The Quest, Penguin (Excellent, popular paper back from a Pulitzer prize winner).


  • Smil, V., 2003, Energy at the Crossroads, MIT Press

  • Smil, V., 2010, Energy Myths and Realities: Bringing science to the policy debate, AEI press, ISBN: 978-0844743288


  • Sorensen, B., 2010, Renewable Energy, Fourth Edition: Physics, Engineering, Environmental Impacts, Economics & Planning, Academic Press, ISBN: 978-0123750259


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr Paul Behrens, p.a.behrens