Introduction to energy policy and sustainable energy engineering

Course code: MEC 5091Z

Convenor: Jesse Burton (Energy, environment and climate change group), Jesse.Burton@uct.ac.za.

Course dates: The course starts at the beginning of February, but is preceded by a week-long intensive ‘bootcamp’ that runs in the last week of January.

Course times: Lectures take place every day from 10am-1pm, and afternoon sessions linked to particular topics include movie screenings, tutorials and reading groups.

Course objectives

The course has been put together to provide a base for students of different academic backgrounds to become familiar with key energy concepts, sources, technologies, and policies. The course starts with lectures on different energy sources and conversion technologies, then focuses further on the electricity system, energy efficiency, energy security, energy economics, energy systems and the relationships between energy and climate change, poverty, cities and transport. The course concludes with a focus on energy policy, regulation and governance issues. Students will also be taught basic energy numbers and conversions, basic energy finance, and will have lectures on developing their writing skills.

Students should, by the end of the course, be familiar with energy issues both globally and in South Africa, and should have the requisite skills to advance to the electives they choose for the rest of the year. Students are expected to be familiar with a broad range of topics in the energy sector, while also maintaining the depth of understanding of topics required at a Masters level. For this reason, the course is highly intensive.

The course commences with a ‘bootcamp week’ in January that will equip students with reading, writing, and quantitative skills they will need for the rest of the course. The next 6 weeks include 2-3 hours of lectures each morning, with required readings set for each lecture, as well tutorials, seminars, film screenings and reading groups on different topics, as well as occasional field trips. attendance at all lectures is imperative. Students are required to keep up to date with the readings which provide the basis for the knowledge they will gain in the Intro course, but where possible multimedia is also used to supplement the readings, including podcasts, TEDtalks, and movies.

Key elements of the course content include the following

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Course assessment

Assessment consists of an exam (30%), a long paper (50%) and a series of class exercises (20%). The class assignments consist of short written assignments, presentations and class tests. Some tutorial assignments must be completed but do not count towards mark assessment.

Reading list

Required and suggested readings for each lecture will be made available on the Vula site once the course has commenced. If you want to begin reading in advance, a good place to start would be with the core readings for the course as a whole, which include: