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Energy Within Environmental Constraints | HarvardX on edX | Course About Video

Eine Einführung in die Energiesysteme und ihre Auswirkungen auf die Umwelt.

(WK-intern)Nehmen Sie an diesem Kurs kostenlos auf EDX: https: //www.edx.org/course/energy…  teil.

A quantitative introduction to the energy system and its environmental impacts.

Take this course free on edX

Humanity faces an immense challenge: providing abundant energy to everyone without wrecking the planet. If we want a high-energy future while protecting the natural world for our children, we must consider the environmental consequences of energy production and use. But money matters too: energy solutions that ignore economic costs are not realistic—particularly in a world where billions of people currently can’t afford access to basic energy services. How can we proceed?

Energy Within Environmental Constraints won’t give you the answer. Instead, we will teach you how to ask the right questions and estimate the consequences of different choices.

This course is intended for a diverse audience. Whether you are a student, an activist, a policymaker, a business owner, or a concerned citizen, this course will help you start to think carefully about our current energy system and how we can improve its environmental performance.

This course:

  • Covers engineering, environmental science, and economics to enable critical, quantitative thinking about our energy system
  • Focuses on a working understanding of energy technologies, rich in details of real devices and light on theory; you won’t find any electrodynamics here but will find enough about modern commercial solar panels to estimate if they would be profitable to install in a given location
  • Covers environmental impacts of the energy system, focusing on air pollution, climate change, and land use
  • Emphasizes costs: the cascade of capital and operating costs from energy extraction all the way through end uses
  • Emphasizes quantitative comparisons and tradeoffs: how much more expensive is electricity from solar panels than from coal plants, and how much pollution does it prevent? Is solar power as cost-effective an environmental investment as nuclear power or energy efficiency? And how do we include considerations other than cost?

Please note that this is an abridged course, equivalent to roughly half of a full semester-long undergraduate course. See the syllabus for topics that we include and a list of some we exclude.

Cheap Solar Power


Over the last few years solar PV has got cheap. Cheap enough to start impacting some commodity energy markets today. Cheap enough that with continued progress, but no breakthroughs, it might alter the global outlook for energy supply within a decade.

I have long been skeptical of solar hype. In 2008 we did an expert judgment exercise suggesting only even odds of getting to module prices of 0.3 $/W in 2030. In 2011 we did some analysis showing how the power-law learning curve for modules appeared to be flattening. That analysis was done at the end of a decade that saw big increases in installed capacity, with little corresponding change in module prices. The solar market was driven by incentives, like tax credits and feed-in tariffs that drove rooftop solar seem systems which are (arguably) little more than green bling for the wealthy. I worried that deployment incentives (global total amounting to many hundreds of billions of dollars over the past decade) would simply lock in the current technologies and do little to drive the breakthroughs that were needed to get solar cheap enough to compete for commodity power.

PR: Harvard University

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