BEng Civil Engineering / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Renewable Energy Systems

Course unit fact file
Unit code MECH31532
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


There is currently significant interest in exploiting renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, wave and tidal stream to generate electricity. This unit provides an introduction to renewable technologies, with particular focus on engineering design of wind-turbines, tidal stream devices, wave devices, solar photovoltaic and bioenergy along with some of the practical challenges to integrate with wider grid network and smart grid systems. 

This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact.  Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates


To teach students about the wider climate change and energy/electricity context within which the renewable technologies are situated; this will ensure students have a good scientific foundation on which the more technology focused analysis can build.

To develop an understanding of the engineering issues related to the design of renewable energy systems with particular focus on loading and power output of wind turbines, tidal stream turbines, solar photovoltaics, introduction to wave energy converters.

Provide students with an understanding of the role of bioenergy in the renewable energy mix and some of its applications.

Enable the students to grasp a range of relevant challenges in the operation of electricity grid when integrating renewable energy systems, electric vehicles and heat pumps.

Provide students with an understanding of a range of smart grid solutions and its role in the operation of future electricity grid network.


Climate Change: Carbon emissions budgets, definitions and the scale of challenge in decarbonising energy

Introduction to renewable energy: overview of energy supply and demand, energy hierarchy and renewable resource potential.

Wind energy systems: resource, wind turbine types and control methods, momentum theory and limits to wind power output (Betz limit), blade element theory.

Tidal energy systems: tidal stream resource, tidal stream channel model, blockage model by linear momentum theory, influence of free surface on design.

Wave energy systems: resource description, energy yield calculation, limits to wave energy device power capture, dimensions and response of a point absorber type device.

Solar photovoltaic: Solar resource characteristics, principles of PV, PV technology types, factors affecting solar power output and energy yield calculation.

Bioenergy: bioenergy and sustainability, biomass resource, feedstock properties, biomass conversion technologies, technical challenges of biomass conversion

Smart grid: overview of electricity grid operation, challenges in integrating renewables to grid network, future changes in electricity demand, effective smart grid  solutions (demand side management and storage)

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 10%
Written exam 80%
Report 10%

Online blackboard test on Solar Photovoltaic performance. Mostly numerical but some analysis of data for some questions from laboratory session  on solar energy.

Feedback methods

Exam via script viewing

Report and BB test 1 week after submission


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
eAssessment 6
Lectures 24
Independent study hours
Independent study 70

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Imran Afgan Unit coordinator

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