ENVU7SE: Sustainable Energy

CO-ORDINATOR: Prof David Copplestone
CONTRIBUTORS: Prof Andrew Tyler


This module will examine the different options for power generation including renewables, fossil fuels and nuclear. It will explore their links with climate change, the policy need for a secure energy supply and highlight the environmental impact of the power programme, nuclear fuel reprocessing and dealing with the conventional and radioactive wastes generated. How Government policy can affect the environmental impact will be explored. Furthermore, how stakeholders are engaged in the decision making process will be discussed and there will be particular focus on the volunteerism approach for local communities to put themselves forward to host the proposed geological disposal facility for intermediate and high level radioactive wastes as a specific example of community involvement.

This module is timely in the current renaissance of nuclear power and the issues of dealing with radioactive wastes and the debate over nuclear/fossil fuel versus renewable energy generation options.

Learning Outcomes 

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • demonstrate their knowledge of energy production processes and their associated waste management issues
  • examine political and social issues critically and to appreciate the differences in opinion regarding the environmental and human impacts of different power generation options
  • conduct environmental impact assessments using current assessment tools
  • assess data quality and critically interpret data
  • demonstrate critical reasoning and produce concise, well structured essays.


This half module will be delivered as 10 lectures, and two practicals in the second half of the semester


Practical (10%), essay (40%) and exam (50%)


This course will be taught primarily through the use of peer-reviewed journal material and as such there is no one course text. Some suggested texts are:

Elliot D. (2009) Sustainable Energy: Opportunities and Limitations (Energy, Climate and the Environment). Palgrave Macmillan 312pp.

Evans R.L. (2007) Fueling Our Future: An Introduction to Sustainable Energy. Cambridge University Press. 192pp.

MacKay D.J.C. (2009) Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air. UIT Cambridge Ltd. 368pp.

Tester J.W., Drake E.M., Driscoll M.J., Golay M.W. and Peters W.A. (2005) Sustainable Energy: Choosing Among Options. MIT Press. 872pp.



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