SUS 7200B Energy Systems Engineering for Global Sustainability

Spring 2017. Subject to refinement/updating.


Instructor: Iddo Wernick
Schedule: Mondays 4:50 p.m. to 7:20 p.m.
Location: Shepherd S-375
3 credits 3 hours/week


Dr. Iddo Wernick

Office hours: One hour before class, and by appointment, Shepherd Hall, room 307B


After completing this course, students should:

(1) Have a working knowledge of the supply and demand components of energy usage on both a national and global scale and the impact of the near-term end of cheap oil.

(2) Have an understanding of the scientific basis of global warming and climate change, the predicted global impact, and the prospects based on various mitigation scenarios.

(3) Have an understanding of the technological, environmental and economic aspects of producing and distributing energy from the entire range of inputs such as fossil fuels, nuclear fuels, solar isolation, wind, hydro, and biomass.

(4) Be able to analyze, based on thermodynamic, safety, and economic considerations, the prospects for new energy technologies.

(5) Be able to perform a systems engineering, life-cycle analysis of proposed technologies to reduce energy consumption.

(6) Understand the societal and political factors that can inhibit the introduction of new approaches to dealing with our energy crisis, factors such as technological and economic lock in, perceived risk versus actual risk, and changes in lifestyle.


To provide background and tools to analyze energy systems. The course will provide students with a technical overview of how human societies generate and consume energy. Emphasis will be placed on engineering systems and the environmental consequences of different energy options. The course includes consideration of the economic and political context of how energy systems have evolved in the past and could evolve in the future.

Course Requirements

Oral Presentations, Class Participation & Collaboration

After the 3rd lecture, the course will follow a seminar format for half of the class period. Students will be required to make several presentations over the course of the semester on an issue relating to one or more of the following areas:

1) Energy Resources

2) Electricity Generation

3) Energy Distribution

4) Energy Consumption

5) Geo-engineering

6) Energy Policy

Required Reading

There is no textbook for the course. See "Bibliography for Readings" in Blackboard, organized by lecture sequence below.  Also students should download (free) "Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air" by David JC MacKay


Grades will be calculated and weighted as follows:

Homework     – 20%

Participation  – 20%

Mid Term        – 20%

Final project   – 40%

Course Outline

Lecture Sequence

  1. What is Energy?         
  2. Energy Use in Human Society - Oxen to Nuclear reactors  
  3. Principles of Energy Conversion       
  4. Primary Resources    
  5. Energy Forecasting
  6. Technologies for Electricity Generation      
  7. Climate - Biogeochemical Flows and Toxics
  8. Technologies for Energy Consumption        
  9. Distribution and Storage       
  10. Mobility and Transportation

Lecture Topics and Readings

  1. What is energy?
  • 1st law of thermodynamics
  • Equivalence between different forms of energy
  • Examples of engineered systems      
  • Examples of non-engineered (Natural) systems


Horse Power 2000

Promise and problems of emergy analysis 2004

  1. Energy Use in Human Society - Oxen to Nuclear reactors  
  • Agriculture
  • Materials
  • Fuels
  • Engines/Turbines
  • Transportation
  • Electricity


The Balance Sheet- Chapter 2 in Without the Hot Air

World History and Energy 2004

  1. Principles of energy conversion
  • 2nd law of thermodynamics
  • Faradays Law
  • Primary and secondary energy
  • Biomass Conversion


A Farewell to Fossil Fuels 2012

The Nonsense of Biofuels 2012 (Biofuels folder)

  1. Primary Resources
  • Water, Energy, Land, Materials, Waste
  • Resources and Reserves
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Renewable sources


Carbon Forever - Chapter 2011

Wind and Solar - Chapters 4 and 6 in Without the Hot Air

  1. Energy Forecasting
  • Science
  • Politics
  • Business


The Coal Question Introduction 1866

Nine Challenges of Alternative Energy_Post Carbon Institute 2010

  1. Technologies for electricity generation
  • Role of Electricity in the Energy System
  • Utility Economics
  • Conventional electricity production
  • Renewable electricity production


Levelized Cost of New Electricity Generating Technologies 2011 (see for updated estimates)

Can we live on renewables? Chapter 18 in Without the Hot Air

  1. Climate - Biogeochemical flows and Toxics
    • Earth’s Carbon cycle and anthropogenic emissions
    • Earth’s radiation balance and climate forcing         
    • Geo-Engineering
    • Nitrogen and Sulfur cycle
    • Toxics


Greenhouse Earth 2010

Stabilization Wedges - Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies 2004

  1. Technologies for Energy consumption
  • Energy Demand
  • Heating and Cooling
  • Motors
  • Lighting


Smarter Heating Chapter 21 in Without Hot Air

Scandinavian Hospitals Use Half the Energy as Those in the US 2009

  1. Distribution & Storage
  • Electricity Markets
  • Smart Grid
  • Hydrocarbon Distribution
  • Energy storage
  • Stationary vs. Mobile storage
  • Co-generation


Fluctuations and Storage Chapter 26 in Without Hot Air

Load Management Strategies to Support the Grid-Integration of Intermittent Renewable Resources – under Grid Integration for Renewables

  1.  Mobility and Transportation
  • Passenger modes
  • Freight modes
  • Fuels – Power Systems
  • Mobility and the City


The Evolution of Transport 2001

Better Transport Chapter 20 in Without Hot Air