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The University of Southampton

SESM3037 Technology Fundamentals for Sustainable Energy

Module Overview

This module will be first delivered in 2021/22. How can we provide clean, safe, sustainable energy for the world during the twenty-first century? This module delivers a integral treatise on the fundamental processes and theories underlying the technologies of modern sustainable energy development. The discussion and learning is underpinned by problem solving using the essential theory and engineering analysis. This module provides an overarching introduction to energy resources, energy demand, and technology for sustainable power generation.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Environmental, economic and technical requirements for energy supply. (Contributing to AHEP LOs: SM3b, D1, D2, EL2, P1)
  • The characteristics of alternative power generation and energy storage technologies, including photovoltaic, wind, hydro, nuclear, electrochemical, hydrogen liquefaction, and thermal solar generation (Contributing to AHEP LOs: SM1b, EL4)
  • Fluid mechanics of wind and hydro power, thermodynamics of liquid hydrogen production, concept of band theory for solar cells, electrochemical and chemical energy systems (Contributing to AHEP LOs: SM1b, SM2b)
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Relate available wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, biofuel, and other chemical energy resources to the amount of power that can be produced. (Contributing to AHEP LOs: EA1b)
  • Ability to identify, classify, describe and interpret life cycle analysis for alternative energy supply and power generation options, accounting for different forms of environmental impact, working with information that may be incomplete or uncertain and quantify the effect of this on design. (Contributing to AHEP LOs: EA2, D3b, EL4)
  • Evaluate the performance of wind turbines using basic aerodynamic analysis. Perform structure assessment of wind turbine blades. Conduct thermodynamic analysis of solar thermal power plant and relate this to the design of matching gas turbines, Rankine-cycle systems. (Contributing to AHEP LOs: EA1b, EA2, EA3b, EA4b)
  • Analyse electrochemical energy conversion processes and relate this in an integrated approach to practical application in fuel cells. (Contributing to AHEP LOs: EA4b)
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Assess sustainability across a range of applications, applying quantitative techniques where appropriate (Contributing to AHEP LOs: EL4)
  • Use computational analysis in support of engineering design and decision making, showing the ability to work with technical uncertainty. (Contributing to AHEP LOs: EA2, EA3b, P8, G)
  • Apply thermodynamic analysis relevant to a wide range of chemical, energy, materials and environmental processes, to establish creative and rigorous solutions that are fit for purpose for all aspects of the problem, including production, operation, maintenance and disposal (Contributing to AHEP LOs: D4).
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Relate available wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, biofuel, and other chemical energy resources to the amount of power that can be produced. (Contributing to AHEP LOs: P2)


Introduction to Sustainable Energy Landscape and Generation vs Energy Storage (1 Lectures) Macroscopic Processes for Sustainable Power/Energy Generation (10 Lectures) • Wind power: rotor aerodynamic and performance, optimal rotor design, rotor structural materials and mechanics, mechanical transmission and electrical power generation, civil engineering • Hydro and tidal power Thermodynamic Processes for Sustainable Power/Energy Generation (7 lectures): • Solar thermal power generation: heat transfer and energy harvesting, power generation cycles • Thermodynamics of real gasses and phase transition • Liquefaction of liquid hydrogen • Biomass and combined cycles Microscopic Processes for Sustainable Power/Energy Generation (10 Lectures) • Functional materials: conceptual fundamentals of solid physics of photovoltaic materials, PV operation, performance and modern development, material fabrication, other energy materials • Chemical processes: fundamental electro-chemistry for batteries, type of batteries and their uses • Nuclear Energy: fusion and fission reactions and reactors Sustainable Energy Systems (6 lectures): • Balance of production and demand fluctuation with energy storage and distributed generation with optimal topology and combination of different technologies • Student led case study of a microgrid using complimentary sustainable generation methods Revision (3 lectures)

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures including examples. Learning activities include • Set example questions • Directed reading • Group activities for case study

Completion of assessment task30
Wider reading or practice84
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

MacKay, David J. C.  (2009). Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air. 

Ehrlich, Robert and Geller, Harold A.  (2017). Renewable Energy: A First Course 2ed. . 



MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment 50%
Examination 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: SESM2017 or FEEG2003

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