Energy for the World

Discipline: Engineering
Instructor: Tyner
Credits: 3

Field Work: Day 1 - Tuesday, 15 March | South Africa Download Syllabus

Energy is one of the basic units of our physical world, and its availability strongly defines a populace’s standard of living.  Debates over the risks related to fracking, mining, nuclear power, hydroelectric dams, wind farms, solar farms, burning fossil fuels and implications for climate change will be weighed against the need to deliver power to an increasing human population. In this course we will investigate how energy is derived from the all the available technologies, from coal to tidal.  This will include the full aspect of energy consumption including: infrastructure, mining, energy storage, energy delivery, and waste disposal.  As we visit various countries during the semester, we will see that the proportion and the total amount of energy generated by the various technologies differ dramatically.   We will discuss opportunities made and those available in the various countries.  Lastly we will discuss the inherent conflict generally between energy producers (generating self-wealth) and those downstream of the energy production (enduring poor environmental conditions), and how this conflict is becoming intergenerational.

Field Work

Country: South Africa
Day: 1 - Tuesday, 15 March

We are planning to visit various alternative energy providers working in Cape Town with trips to solar and wind based installations. The class will break into groups to assess the different ways that energy could be produced for Cape Town. Some of these energy sources will be “conventional” whereas others will generally be more sustainable. You will then consider the pros and cons of each type, and develop an overall Energy Mix of technologies that could provide energy for Cape Town over the next 20 years. We will also visit with city engineers and planners that will discuss their plans for dealing with the effects of climate change on the development of energy.

Academic Objectives:
1. Learn about traditional sources of energy generation along with their pros and cons.
2. Learn about alternative sources of energy generation along with their pros and cons.
3. See first-hand how community planners and engineers are moving towards a more sustainable energy generation along with the biggest difficulties they foresee.