Energy in this World and Elsewhere

Discipline: Physics
Instructor: Thornton
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 14:15
End: 15:30
Field Work: Day 2 - Cadiz - Tuesday, 1 October | Spain Download Syllabus

Rising global demand for energy (especially in developing countries), political instability in energy-producing regions like the Middle East, and a growing awareness of the impact of fossil fuel use on global climate change has created a new urgency for an awareness of energy’s role in ensuring security, well-being, and a healthy environment in the 21st century.  How can we replace fossil fuels with safe, inexpensive, renewable energy like solar, wind, hydro, tidal, geothermal, biomass/biofuel, and fuel cells?  How do these renewable sources of energy work and how can we make them cheaper?  Is hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” safe?  What are we going to do about climate change?  Can nuclear power be made safer?  Although new technology alone is not going to meet the world’s energy challenges, developments in science and technology will substantially affect our ability to shape future energy options.  This is a science course about Energy for non-science majors.  No physics or math prerequisite courses are required.  Physics will only be taught as a prelude for understanding how the various energy sources operate so we can make informed choices.  We will emphasize the energy programs of the countries we visit.  The electronic textbook is free.

Field Work

Country: Spain
Day: 2 - Cadiz - Tuesday, 1 October

The Andalucía area of Spain has tremendous natural resources for renewable energy and is one of the fastest growing sources of wind and solar energy in the world.  The Cadiz area itself has more than 60 wind farms and several solar farms including photovoltaic and solar thermal.  We will see as many examples of renewable energy sources as possible during this field lab and experts will tell us about wind farms, solar photovoltaic and solar thermal farms, solar water heaters, geothermal energy, biomass, hydro, and the research facilities of the University of Cadiz.  We will learn how these energy sources are transferred to the energy infrastructure in and around Spain. Academic Objectives: 1.  Learn about solar power including both photovoltaic and concentrated solar power plants. 2.  Learn about solar hot water heaters. 3.  Learn about wind energy. 4.  Learn about the research efforts of the University of Cadiz energy group. 5.  See as many energy facilities as possible. 6.  Students will submit a written report about the Field Lab.