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Energy Science



[BSc], EES, S

Admission requirements

  • Classes of 2013-2016: a 100/200-level EES/S course, ideally Energy and Resource Management, or permission from the instructor.

Course description

For the past two centuries, our modern world has relied upon the incredible energy density of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are the bedrock of our society, providing mobility, food, housing, and long lifespans to a growing population. Unfortunately, fossil fuel usage also releases gases into the atmosphere that warm the planet. For one hundred and sixteen years, we have known about this warming effect and we know that it will intensify into the future, with harmful implications for the world’s population.

Global warming is arguably the most critical problem facing humanity; it will continue to influence our civilization for many decades – and even centuries – to come. Developing alternatives to the continued exploitation of oil, gas, and coal is crucial if we are to mitigate the impacts of climate change on human communities and the ecosystem.

This course will lay the scientific foundations of energy generation. First, we will investigate the physics of energy and power. Then, we will investigate why fossil fuels have been so successful in developing and sustaining our modern lifestyle.

The core of this course (6 weeks) will be an analysis of the varied types of renewable and sustainable energies. We will profile wind, wave, tidal, hydro, solar, and geothermal energies. We will also investigate biofuels, and nuclear energy options. In doing so, we will assess the opportunities, advantages, and disadvantages of each energy type; always keeping in mind the scientific, social, and environmental plausibility of each energy source.

Learning objectives

Upon completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Comfortably use scientific units in quantifying energy generation and usage, both nationally and internationally.

  • Understand the history of energy use by humans.

  • Understand the physical concepts for types of sustainable energy generation (wind, wave, tidal, hydro, etc.).

  • Enumerate the advantages and disadvantages of different types of energy generation and describe their possible contribution to the energy-mix.

  • Develop an appreciation of how energy science fits within the social, economic, and environmental concerns of different nations.