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Alternative Energy Strategies




Admissions requirements

Energy Science
Quantitative Research Methods OR Biostatistics


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

After successful completion of this course students are able to, among many other things:

  • apply models to make scenarios of future energy use using publically available data;

  • distinguish the important assumptions of such scenarios, comparing the influence of different assumptions;

  • evaluate energy scenarios and their ability to mitigate environmental change;

  • write in an advanced scientific style which communicates findings parsimoniously;

  • synthesise information from scientific papers and sources;

  • describe and discuss information from scientific papers and sources among their peers;

  • present their findings to the class, describing the findings of their research.

Students will have knowledge of, among many other things:

  • How modern energy systems work together to provide energy services to people.

  • The fundamental equations of climate change and energy use.

  • The major barriers to change.

  • A basic approach to energy economics.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course consists of structure lectures and class discussions based on cutting edge science along with example calculations. The course will feature guest lectures from energy professionals.


Individual Assignment 1: Past Energy Scenarios 10%
Individual Assignment 2: Future Energy Scenarios 17.5%
Small group Assignment 3: Energy technology research review 17.5%
Presentation Assignment 4: Research presentation 15%
Course Participation: 15%
Final Exam: 25%


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

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


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr Paul Behrens