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Assessment of current and potential future energy systems, covering resources, extraction, conversion, and end-use, with emphasis on meeting regional and global energy needs in the 21st century in a sustainable manner. Different renewable and conventional energy technologies will be presented and their attributes described within a framework that aids in evaluation and analysis of energy technology systems in the context of political, social, economic, and environmental goals. Open to graduate students and upper class undergraduates.


Amazon logo Tester, J. W., E. M. Drake, M. W. Golay, M. J. Driscoll, and W. A. Peters. Sustainable Energy - Choosing Among Options. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780262201537.

One-page overview of the textbook (PDF).

Course Lecture Structure

During the first few weeks of class, six Toolbox Lectures on fundamental topics will be interspersed with the regular class lectures.

Toolbox Lectures

1 Energy Resource Assessment
2 Energy Supply, Demand, and Storage Planning Methods
3 Economic Feasibility Assessment Methods
4 Systems Analysis Methodologies
5 Energy Transfer and Conversion Methods
6 Thermodynamics and Efficiency Analysis Methods


Part I: Energy in Context

1 Introduction
2 Overview of Energy Use and Related Issues
3 Sustainability, Energy, and Clean Technologies in Context
4 Resource Evaluation and Depletion Analysis
5 Global Change and Response Issues
6 International Efforts to Abate Global Changes
7 Regional Air Pollution
8 Overview of Energy Supply Portfolio
9 Criteria for Assessing the Sustainability of Energy Technologies

Part II: Specific Energy Technologies

10 Geothermal Energy
11 Hydropower
12 Nuclear Waste Disposal
13 Electrochemical Energy Storage
14 Fuel Cell and Distributed Energy Programs in Industry
15 Biomass Energy
16 Biomass Conversion to Liquid Fuels
17 Nuclear Energy I: Present Technologies
18 Nuclear Energy II: Future Technologies and the Fuel Cycle
19 Fossil Energy I: Types and Characteristics. Decarbonization
20 Fossil Energy II: Conversion, Power Cycles
21 Fusion Energy Technologies
22 Wind Power
23 Cape Wind and Other Wind Projects
24 Solar Thermal Energy
25 Solar Photovoltaic Energy

Part III: Energy End Use, Option Assessment, and Tradeoff Analysis

26 Eco-buildings
27 Domestic Energy Efficiency Improvement
28 Electric Industry Restructuring
29 Future Road Transport Options
30 Energy Supply and Use in China and India
31 Sustainable Development Issues and Decision-making Techniques
32 US Energy Policy and Options



One problem set per week on average. Early problem sets focus on analytical skills; later problem sets are more comprehensive and integrating.


One written term paper (20-30 pages) with interim progress report and final oral presentation.


Homework 25%
In-class Participation 10%
Mid-term Exam 25%
Term Paper (25% for Written Paper and 15% for Oral Presentation) 40%