This module aims to give a very broad overview into the range of issues relevant to energy as a commodity. Given the vast range of topics and disciplines this covers, it will not be possible to cover many important aspects however the aim is to equip the reader with enough background information the engage fully with the more detailed modules which follow in the course, and to provide enough information and pointers to be able to join the current debate on energy with some confidence.

The main current activities to formulate and implement global and national policies will be addressed. The impacts of energy use on society and the environment will be introduced. With the insight gained, one will be able to assess critically, and contribute constructively to, the ongoing debates and strategies for a sustainable energy production. While no prior knowledge is absolutely necessary, it is helpful to have (or revise) the basic knowledge of thermodynamics gained in an engineering degree. More specifically, familiarity with the first and second law of thermodynamics and an understanding of standard thermodynamic cycles will be useful.

The aim of this course is to provide the students with knowledge and understanding concerning contemporary solar applications. Furthermore, special emphasis is put on investigating the optimum exploitation of the available solar potential either for thermal applications (solar collectors) or for electricity generation (photovoltaics). Moreover, the environmental and financial performance of solar energy installations is investigated along with special topics like Concentrating Solar Power (CSP), Photovoltaic/Thermal Solar applications as well as Passive Solar Architecture and building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).

The structure of the module is relatively straightforward, given by the variety of renewables available.

An introductory chapter provides some background to current and projected energy demands, some arguments for the need of renewable resources (in place of, or in addition to, finite energy resources), and a working definition of renewable energy resources. This is then followed by several chapters, each addressing a specific resource in turn. Each of these chapters can be broadly divided into three parts. The first part will describe the resource itself, which is then followed by a presentation of the technologies used to harness the resource. The chapters are then rounded off with a discussion of the practical application of the energy resource and its integration into the general energy demand and supply chain. Because the problems involved in the integration of the resources are very common throughout, the discussion of the specific resources is concluded by a chapter discussing their integration in general.