Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Trinity Menu Trinity Search

You are here Trinity Electives > Energy in the 21st Century


** Not running in 2021/22 **

Why should I take this Trinity Elective?

In 2016 over half of all global electricity generation was based on fossil fuel. Approximately 5% used wind and solar. But that’s up from less than 1% in 2004. It is not clear that the trend towards low carbon power generation is inexorable. There are many questions which are hotly contested, which need to be considered through critical thinking, rather than sound bites. For example: what are the practical limits of low-carbon energy technologies? How much energy do we need? How expensive is renewable power and is it a price that people can afford? What happens when the wind doesn’t blow, or at night when solar cells don’t work? In this Trinity Elective you will address the question of how the global community, and we in Ireland, should generate power for our sophisticated, comfortable, liberal civilization.

What will I learn?

  • At the end of this module you will be able to:
    • quantify the scale of the energy supply and demand task;
    • describe and compare various power generation technologies;
    • estimate the potential contribution of a particular technology.

What will I do?

  • Attend a series of lectures to explore the socio-economic, environmental and technological context of electricity provision in the near future;
  • Use international datasets to explore the disparity of energy use around the world;
  • Explore the interaction of weather and renewable energy generation using real world data;
  • Develop your own overarching plan to decarbonize energy supply in Ireland using an online tool.

How will this be delivered?

  • Approximately 24 hours of face-to-face lectures
  • Reading and literature evaluation: 50 hours
  • Ongoing self-assessment based on online MCQ both as a way to learn and as a way to assess your learning.
  • Assignments based on data reduction and modelling of the energy supply system.

How will this be assessed?

  • A 2 hour exam during the end of semester session. This exam is 25 short questions drawn from a pool of approximately 150, the style and content of which you will be familiar with from the online self assessment MCQ. (50%)
  • 3 Assignments (50%).
    • The first is a data reduction task to compare, using suitable metrics, the energy use and fuel mix of different countries.
    • The second is a hypothetical model of an isolated community which has totally decarbonized the electricity supply – the model is driven by real world meteorological and demand data.
    • In the third assignment you will develop an overarching plan to decarbonize the Irish energy supply by mid-century using an online tool.

Who can take this Trinity Elective?

  • Any student eligible to take a Trinity Elective can select this Trinity Elective.

More Information (PDF 198KB)