Aims: To give students an understanding of the issues involved in the provision of energy and the consequences to the environment of making alternative choices in that provision. To indicate the directions of future development in energy technologies. To enable an energy user to make informed decisions about energy generation, conversion, transportation and usage.
After taking this module students should be able to: Make use of the facts that energy can be converted from one form to another, transported and consumed; State the principle of the conservation of energy and apply it to a variety of energy conversions; Distinguish between the separate issues involved in mobile and static applications for the use of energy; Recognise the component functions within a conventional (Fossil-fuel, bio-fuel and nuclear) electrical power station; Describe the operation of solar/photo-voltaic, hydroelectric, tidal, wave and wind electricity generators; Be able to make an assessment of the overall efficiencies of different ways of generating electricity; Understand the consequences to the environment in terms of the build up of pollutants, greenhouse gasses, waste management and the depletion of natural resources; Relate the above to the issue of sustainability of energy systems and the effect upon the environment; The influence of energy markets on societies' energy choices.
The ability to estimate the efficiencies of different fuel sources when converted to electrical energy. The ability to apply an energy audit and carbon audit to different technologies. The ability to make the least environmentally damaging choices for energy provision. Transferable internet research skills.
Energy and Power. Forms of energy. Conservation of energy. Energy conversion and thermal efficiency. Energy sources including wind, solar, bio-fuel, tidal, wave, hydroelectric, nuclear and fossil-fuel. Sustainability with reference to resource depletion, energy audit and carbon audit. The issue of "Peak oil" and its significance. Environmental impact of different energy sources including extraction from the environment and conversion to usable energy forms. Mobile (e.g. transportation) and static (e.g. household and industrial) usage of energy including basic issues such as the need for energy storage. Forms of energy storage. Energy translocation (e.g. transmission of electrical power). Global warming - the feedback mechanisms and causes. Acid rain - the basic principles. Radioactive waste - the long-term storage issues. The efficient use of energy by society. Combined Heat and Power (CHP). Energy markets and the impact that these can have on the behaviour of the energy consumer. Demand-side management. Energy security - local vs. centralised production of electrical energy. The definition of sustainability applied to energy production and usage and its implications to a sustainable human society.