The University of Newcastle, Australia
Available in 2020

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. The 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 baseload 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 (eg, 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.

Availability2020 Course Timetables


  • Semester 1 - 2020

Learning outcomes

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

1. Critically assess the strengths 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

5. Independently identify and critically review research literature to extend their knowledge in the relevant field.


  1. Converting renewable into useful energy
  2. Power intermittency
  3. Thermodynamic limits of power conversion
  4. Limitations of electricity generation


If you have completed MECH3760 you cannot enrol in this course.

Assumed knowledge


Assessment items

Quiz: Quiz *

Presentation: Powerplay Assessment

Quiz: Quizzes

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. - 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


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

Week 1-4, 6-12