OSBIT Power

TCE2 Renewable Energy: Policy, Politics and Ethics

Venue: University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Staff: Professor I Arbon

Aims: The aim of the module is to provide students with an appreciation of the political and ethical context of renewable energy at international, national and local level and for students to be able to critically review Government energy strategies.

The module provides students with the 'sustainability' context for renewable energy (whether in the form of electricity, heat or transport), to critically review Government energy policies and strategies and to form a view on whether these are adequate to achieve the extremely ambitious yet legally-binding 2020 renewable energy and GHG emissions commitments.

Module content: The module will cover the following topics:

  • Why Renewable Energy?: - Brief history of renewable energy; - UK energy policy to 2003.
  • Development of UK Energy Policy: - Review of pre-school assignment; - UK energy policy 2003 to date.
  • Policies, Politics Ethics: Introduction to ‘Politics’; Introduction to ‘Ethics’.
  • Review of Mallon’s Book: Review of Ch.1-3 of course textbook.
  • Climate Change and Energy: - Global population growth; - Global energy demand; - Greenhouse Gas Emissions; - Contraction and Convergence; - Socolow’s wedges.
  • Sustainability & The Energy Hierarchy: - Definitions of Sustainability; ‘Triple Bottom Line’ Diagrams;- Dwindling fossil fuel supplies; - Using the Energy Hierarchy.
  • NIMBYism and Technical Illiteracy: - NIMBYism and Planning issues; - Growing problem of ‘technical illiteracy’.
  • Sustainable Heat: - The UK’s primary need for heat energy; - Recovery of wasted heat; - Passive solar principles and the Passivhaus concept.
  • Sustainable Biofuels: - Different types of ‘energy crops’; - Solid, liquid and gaseous biofuels; - Conversion technologies; - ‘Food vs. fuel’ debate; - Gallagher Review;
    Sustainable Transport Energy: - 2020 energy and emissions commitments for transport; - ‘The Carbon Challenge’ for transport; - Problems and solutions.
  • Integrated Energy Policy: - German Federal Integrated Strategy; - the ‘negawatt’ power station (California).
  • Energy from Waste: - Introduction to waste management; - the Waste Hierarchy; - Intro. To Energy from Waste (EfW); - Waste Incineration Directive (WID).
  • Waste as Resource: - Development of the ‘Waste as Resource’ (WaR) concept; - Practical implementation.
  • EfW and Ethics: - Review of IMechE Reports on EfW and WaR; - Discussion of ethical and political issues.
  • Barriers to achieving targets: - Government and Public Sector; - Abuse of BAT & WID; - Role of EA & SEPA; - ‘public’ misconceptions.
  • Case Studies: - Application of ethical principles to different renewable energy technologies.
  • Sustainability & The Energy Hierarchy: - Definitions of Sustainability; ‘Triple Bottom Line’ Diagrams;- Dwindling fossil fuel supplies; - Using the Energy Hierarchy.
  • NIMBYism and Technical Illiteracy: - NIMBYism and Planning issues; - Growing problem of ‘technical illiteracy’.

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