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Renewable Energy Systems


Admission requirements

This course is obligatory for students of the master’s programme Industrial Ecology.

We expect the students to have approximately high school knowledge of thermodynamics, chemistry, physics and electricity. For students with a non-technical background, it is highly recommended to study the material found here:


Renewable energy and sustainability are hot topics in public debate. How can we try to answer questions such as: Can wind mills replace the production of coal power stations? How can we reduce CO2 emissions? Can we survive on renewable energy? In this course, you will obtain the basic knowledge and skills to address such questions.

The course provides an introduction to technical and societal aspects of renewable energy (RE). Topics include:

  • different types of renewable energy sources;

  • the usage of these types of energy in buildings, industry and transport;

  • general principles and methods of RE conversion and integration;

  • fundamental and practical limitations of RE technologies;

  • market, policy and ethical perspectives on RE technologies;

Learning goals

After completion of this course the student should be able to:
1. describe basic principles of energy sources and energy system and compare them.
2. explain the general mechanism of a range of renewable energy technologies.
3. perform basic calculations to give a quantitative analysis of the efficiency, sustainability and viability of RE options.
4. evaluate and discuss technical, environmental and societal aspects of renewable energy.

Teaching methods/mode of instruction

The course will consist of (i) a series of guest lectures by researchers who specialize in various topics related to renewable energy, and (ii) video lectures and other course material from the TU Delft MOOC “Sustainable Energy” (EdX platform). Due to the use of the MOOC, there will be a substantial amount of self-study. In addition, there will be a couple of practical sessions where the exercises are discussed.

Type of assessment

We provide exercise sets with which the students can test their understanding of the material, and practice for the exam.
The final grade is determined by a written exam (‘closed book’).
Final grades are expressed by means of a figure between 1 and 10, rounded to the nearest half. The grade 5.5 cannot be granted. Grades between 5.01 and 5.49 are rounded to 5.0 and grades between 5.50 and 5.99 are rounded to 6.0.

Course materials/reading list

We will use Brightspace TU Delft to distribute course material and to communicate with students. For course books, see below. Other study materials include the materials provided by the MOOC, Collegerama lectures from previous years, and possibly a few additional readings provided by the guest lecturers.

The exam material will cover parts of the following two books:

  • “Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air” by David Mackay, which is available for free at

  • “Introduction to Energy Analysis, Second Edition” by Kornelis Blok and Evert Nieuwlaar, which may be accessed electronically via the TU Delft library.
    The Mackay book as a whole is highly recommended as (optional) background reading.


Because this course is part of a joint degree between Leiden University and TU Delft, students (also guest and exchange) have to be enrolled in both universities.

All students have to enroll for the course via Brightspace (before the start of the course) and for the exam via uSis, Leiden University.

Students who are not enrolled for the MSc Industrial Ecology, have to ask for permission from the study advisor of Industrial Ecology ( to join this course, at least one month before the start of the course. After permission students can enroll for the course via Brightspace. This is different for TU Delft students not enrolled in the MSc Industrial Ecology who can choose this course as an elective and only have to ask permission from the course/module manager ( two months before the start of the course.

Exchange students can only enroll for this course if their home university has an exchange agreement with both Leiden University and TU Delft. Exchange students have to ask for permission from the study advisor of Industrial Ecology ( as soon as possible, preferably six months before the start of the course.


More information and the description of the course is published in the e-studyguide of TU Delft.