Not currently offered
Course code



10 units


3000 level

Course handbook


Renewable energy is a rapidly growing high-tech industry that will be essential in the control of climate active emissions and which will steadily gain economic importance. This course addresses the conversion of renewable energy sources into useful electrical energy. This conversion is subject to three major limitations that must be thoroughly understood to unlock the full potential of these technologies.

First, renewable energy sources are mostly intermittent which restricts their usefulness for electrical base load supply. Lectures combined with online learning modules and the Powerplay simulation will show students the impact on energy generation and train them in developing efficient buffering strategies. Second, with the exception of photovoltaics, renewable energy must be initially converted into mechanical energy. Limitations of this conversion step are investigated focusing on thermal power generation (e.g. concentrated solar, biomass combustion, geothermal). Thermodynamic analysis will allow students to calculate maximum efficiencies of power cycles and its components. Third, energy losses occur due to the transformation of mechanical energy to usable electric energy that can be supplied to the electricity grid. Students will obtain an overview of electrical generator, rectifier and inverter technology.



    Learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

    1. Critically assess the strength and limitations of various renewable energy technologies.

    2. Develop strategies to address power intermittency.

    3. Understand and quantify the physical limits of energy conversion.

    4. Design holistic solutions to realistic energy demand scenarios.


    1. How to convert renewable into useful energy.

    2. Power intermittency.

    3. Thermodynamic limits of power conversion.

    4. Limitations of electricity generation.

    Assumed knowledge

    Basic thermodynamics

    Assessment items

    Quiz: Thermodynamics Quiz *

    Presentation: Powerplay

    Quiz: Quiz

    Formal Examination: Formal Examination

    * This assessment has a compulsory requirement.

    Compulsory Requirements

    In order to pass this course, each student must complete ALL of the following compulsory requirements:

    Course Assessment Requirements:

    • Quiz: Minimum Grade / Mark Requirement - Students must obtain a specified minimum grade / mark in this assessment item to pass the course. - Compulsory requirements: Minimum grade requirement. Students must obtain a mark of at least 50% in this assessment.

    Contact hours


    Computer Lab

    Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Term Full Term starting in week 5


    Face to Face On Campus 1 hour(s) per Week for Full Term starting in week 1


    Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for 11 Weeks starting in week 1

    week 1-4, 6-12

    The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.