Energy: Uses, Sources, and Environmental Impacts

One of the major contributors of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, with well-known impacts on climate, is our use of energy, especially electricity generation. Fortunately, the work of scientists and engineers is providing us with a range of far less polluting alternatives, especially those which we refer to as renewables. In this course you will be introduced to the key concepts of energy, and basic definitions. The second law of thermodynamics is central to many of our uses of heat energy. We will then study solar and wind energy, storage, and how these are being integrated into Australia’s energy mix.

This class will be delivered face-to-face at WEA Sydney. Enrolling students need to ensure they have read the current COVID-19 Safety Guidance that WEA Sydney has put in place before enrolling.

SUGGESTED READING

  • J J Kraushaar and R A Ristinen; Energy and Problems of a Technical Society
  • R A Hinrichs and M Kleinbach; Energy, Its Uses and the Environment

COURSE OUTLINE

  • Energy is the ability to do work. We start by examining kinetic and potential energy, and conservation of energy; followed by a survey of other types of energy.
  • Heat is a form of energy, governed by the Laws of Thermodynamics, which limit the efficiency of heat engines, such as power stations.
  • Learn the science of solar radiation and climate. Emissions from our use of fossil fuel sources, and their impacts. Possible climate futures, which depend on our choices.
  • Using solar energy: solar thermal. How do photovoltaic cells work?
  • Wind energy is of rapidly growing importance. What makes the winds blow? How much energy might be extracted from the wind?
  • What other useable energy sources might we tap?
  • Since some of our likely future energy sources are intermittent, what are our options for both storage and backup?
  • What is Australia’s present energy mix? Currently our electricity generation is dominated by coal: what is the expected future life of these power stations?
  • What plans do Australia’s States and Territories have to replace their aging coal-fired power plants? What are their policy settings for the next 10 to 30 years?

PLANNED LEARNING OUTCOMES

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Explain the concepts of work, kinetic energy, and potential energy.
  2. Understand the connection between heat and mechanical energy, and the limits imposed by the laws of thermodynamics.
  3. Discuss the natural greenhouse effect, and the gases responsible for it.
  4. Describe the ways in which science attempts to anticipate our climatic future.
  5. Discuss the ways that solar energy is being used as a direct heat source.
  6. Appreciate the remarkable science and technology of a photovoltaic cell.
  7. Explain how a wind turbine works, and what limits its efficiency.
  8. Discuss geothermal and wave energy, hydro, and pumped hydro storage.
  9. Appreciate Australia’s current energy sources, and their environmental impacts.
  10. Discuss the energy policy settings across Australia; especially NSW.
$166 Limited / $149

<p>One of the major contributors of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, with well-known impacts on climate, is our use of energy, especially electricity generation. Fortunately, the work of scientists

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05 May

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Course testimonials:

  • Class participation & questions combined with Michael's cheerful responses to queries. He is a master of his topics.