2020-2021 Academic Catalog 
    Apr 17, 2021  
2020-2021 Academic Catalog

PHYS 343 - Technology of Renewable Energy

 This course is designed to give an overview of the technical issues confronting the conversion of the world’s fossil fuel economy to one where the major sources of energy are sustainable. The pros and cons of major renewable energy sources (such as solar and wind) will be discussed, along with some of the less universal sources such as tides and geothermal, including, of course, efficiency, the hidden energy resource. No discussion of renewables is complete without a good understanding of the electrical grid, which is central to the implementation of renewable energy. The present grid is designed for a smaller number of large generating stations and relatively constant power generation and loads. The renewable grid will have many smaller energy sources, as small as single solar panels on the top of telephone poles, and also rapidly fluctuating sources, as when winds gust through wind turbines, and clouds cover and uncover solar panels. Through lecture and demonstration we will learn how a nationwide energy network might work in the future. This course is designed for science and non-science majors alike, however math skills including algebra and trigonometry will be expected.
Over the past two years a small microgrid consisting of solar panels, a wind turbine, batteries, and LED lights has been built at Clark.  A main focus of this course will be on the design and building of the microgrid, and related projects and issues. This will require significant time, outside class, to work on building the microgrid system. We will be building physical systems, such as mounting solar panels and working to connect electrical systems, in order to control and measure the energy flows in our microgrid. We will need computer programs for controlling the system and to analyze data, and we also will need web pages for our own monitoring and in order to display the system to others. 
There will be a significant hands on component to this class, in addition to regular homework assignments. Each student will be expected to spend about three hours a week during an afternoon, preferably Tuesday or Friday, working on the project. Please consider this time commitment carefully when you sign up for this course.

Anticipated Terms Offered: Fall