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1A: Energy Conversion: People, Planet, Prosperity (202001505)

Teaching Staff

Period

1A

Course Description

This is an introductory MSc course on the technological and societal transformation needed for the energy transistion. The course is multidisciplinary, drawing on electrical engineering (energy conversion), social science, and entrepreneurship and business innovation. The course is aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, including two targets of the sustainable energy transition: 1) increase energy efficiency and share of renewable energy 2) universal energy access.

The energy transition is a complex societal problem, both in the context of transitioning away from fossil fuels in the developed world and providing access to electricity in the developing world.  Traditional scientific medhod ( reductionism and analytical thinking) alone is inadequate in dealing with complex socio-technical systems and anticipating the future consequences of technological solutions. At best it is ineffective in adressing the problem,  and at worst creates unanticipated side-effects and new problems (as an example, increasing energy efficiency of a personal vehicle can result in an increase in total distance travelled an thus emissions). This course introduces concepts and tools that enable students to understand and deal with complex socio-technical systems in the context of the energy transition. The course covers basics of energy conversion systems for the energy transition, social impact of these technologies, and relevant aspects of business and innovation models.

The course consists of five modules:

  • Socio-Technical Energy Transition: SDG7 goals, electrical energy in energy transition, socio-technical systems, systems thinking, systems innovation.
  • Electrical Energy Conversion Systems: energy access (solar home systems and microgrids), e-mobility (electric vehicles, charging infrastructure).
  • Social Impact: energy access impact (health, economic development, education, gender), theory of change and impact pathway.
  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation: start-up entrepreneurship, collaborative business models.
  • Workshops - applying the concepts on a case study in a group setting.

goals

The high-level objective of the course is to bridge the gap between energy conversion technologies and societal implications of these technologies in the context of the energy transition. The course will empower students to understand the basics of eletrical energy conversion technologies, reflect on their social impact and make first steps in creating successful business cases. For electrical engineering students, it is vital to understand the societal implications of the technologies they will develop and apply in the context of the energy transition. Many technologies that seem excellent from a technical point of view fail in the field due to a failure to grasp social impact. For non-electrical engineering students (social science, entrepreneurship, etc.), the course goal is to get acquainted with basic concepts of energy conversion systems that they may work with in the future, in the context of policy, business development etc. The multidisciplinary nature of the course will provide students with the mindset and tools to include social impact and entrepreneurship opportunities into technology development from inception, thereby contributing to the energy transition in a socially, environmentally and economically responsible manner.

Specific learning goals are:

  • Descripe energy transition goals and role of electricity as an energy carrier. Recognize the limitations of the technology-centred approach.
  • Understand the complexity of socio-technical systems and get acquainted with the approaches for dealing with this complexity.
  • Understand the principles of energy conversion efficiency and assess efficiencies of selected components.
  • Describe architectures and identify key components of electrical energy conversion systems on the examples of electric vehicles and off-grid solar systems (solar home systems and microgrids). Perform first-order design of a solar home sytem given the simplified load profile.
  • Understand and discuss the social impact of energy access. Understand the basic concepts of the Theory of Change framework.
  • Explain the key concepts of start-up entrepreneurship (business model canvas, customer development, minimum viable product) and eco-system business models.
  • Integrate the above concepts and apply to a selected case study.

Study Material

mandatory

  • Lecture handouts
  • Articles

recommended

  • The principles of Electronic and Electromechanical Power Conversion - A System Approach' Braham Ferreira, Wim van der Merwe, 1st edition Wiley, January 2014, ISBN 978-1-118-6509-9
  • Articles
  • Supplemental material

Entry Requirements

Student should be enrolled in a relevant UT MSc program. The match between the course and specific MSc program should be evaluated with the course coordinator.