Introduction to Renewable Energy

New free course in coursera

19 March 2015

Fuels are the foundations of modern living. For over a century we have been drawing fossil fuels – oil, coal and natural gas – from the depths of the earth, and using them to power our world: advanced industries, fast transportation, comfortable homes and more. In this course we will examine possible alternatives for these fuels - which have proved quite damaging to both our health and our environment. We will describe the intensive worldwide efforts in this field of research, and present their encouraging outcome: a range of innovative technologies for generating clean energy from natural, non-polluting and renewable sources – such as sunlight, wind and water.

The course will open with some fundamental questions on energy: What are the energy needs of the global population today, and what will they be tomorrow? What are the resources at our disposal? What are the known processes for harvesting, converting and utilizing resources of energy? What are the problems generated by the use of fossil fuels? In what ways must we change our energy policies and energy economy? And most important of all: What are the alternatives to fossil fuels, and can they supply humanity's extensive and constantly growing energy needs?

Subsequent lessons will introduce the main types of safe, clean, natural and renewable energy sources available to us: solar energy, wind energy, water energy and bioenergy. We will speak of existing technologies that already harness these resources to the needs of humankind, and supply simple tools for computing conversion efficiencies, calculating the amounts of energy produced through the various methods, and assessing their economic feasibility.

In parallel, we will discuss the remaining problems and challenges, and ask what must be done to enable the large-scale use of renewable energy – in industry, in transportation, and in every other sphere of our lives. We will examine several advanced renewable energy technologies; explain why they have not yet taken the place of fossil fuels; and present cutting-edge innovations and promising research directions – in the ongoing global effort to ensure a sustainable future for us all.

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