Sustainable Energy – choosing among options

10.391J, 1.818J, 2.65J, 3.564J, 11.371J, 22.811J, and ESD.166J 

Fall 2008 Term



Instructors: M.W. Golay | J. Freidberg | J.W. Tester | E. Drake | W. Green
 | A. Peterson


Course Description

·        Energy technologies for 21st century regional and global needs and environmental challenges

o       Renewable (solar, biomass, wind, hydro, geothermal)

o       Nuclear (fission, fusion)

o       Fossil (gas, oil, coal)



·        Energy storage, transmission, end-use and efficiency/conservation issues





·        Energy technology assessment in a  political, social, economic and environmental context with life cycle assessment and systems integration methods 


Course Information

  • Credits:  (3-1-8)
  • Meets Tuesday & Thursday: 3-5 pm | Room 26-100
  • Course grades based on homework, mid-term quiz, and term project

More Information


Fall 2008 TA: Blandine Antoine (





Examples of Final Projects (Spring 2008)


And pdf versions of some 2000-2004 final papers




Solar Energy Storage

Potential for reducing annual automotive mileage and fuel consumption through development of modern urban/suburban mass transit systems.  Land use?  Barriers?

Energy storage: Technology opportunities and their integration into interruptible renewable energy sources.

Commercial Aviation fuel reduction

Examination and comparison of large corporations that have committed on some scale to “sustainability”, e.g., Interface, Ford, GE, BP, etc (focus)

Examining Different Policy Options for Increasing Access to Energy in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia

Impact of large scale dam construction on the economy in developing regions

Consider benefits/problems associated with future widespread transition of US auto fuels to biomass sources; identify better strategies?

Technology Review and Analysis of Implementation Impact for Plasma Enhanced Melting (PEM) for Waste Disposal and Energy Production

Is the off-grid energy self sustaining home a viable option for wide spread adoption?

Grid Connected Vehicles. 1. Effects of connecting large numbers of vehicles to the transmission grid, 2. Air quality, 3. Feasibility of bidirectional grid connections

Plug-in hybrid vehicles.  Is driving PHEVs charged on wind is a good step towards sustainability in Texas?

Is the off-grid energy self sustaining home a viable option for wide spread adoption? State-of-the-art and future potential. Costs, benefits?

National Energy Strategy for Nigeria in the next 30 years

Potential for China to use development of biomass resources to ease rural unemployment and social tensions (more focus)

National energy strategy for India.  Can India meet its energy needs to support a developing industrial economy?

The Effects of Further Development and Use of Mass Transit

Will fusion ever be economic?

Application of behavioral research to energy efficiency policy

Economic impact of a carbon tax across sectors

Feasibility of Algae-based Biodiesel

Environmental impact of large-scale palm oil cultivation in southeast Asia for producing biofuels and relation to land management decisions

LCA issues for converting biomass energy crops into biofuels

Estimation and comparison of large corporations that have “committed” to “sustainability”  (more focus)

Use of “fee-bates” by governments to encourage energy efficiency and shift consumer choices in purchasing automobiles, appliances, etc.

Building Efficiency. Economic feasibility of options for improving building efficiency/usage in urban redevelopment projects/ low income housing in US cities

Local Food. Environmental impacts and energy requirements of large scale operations vs local ones.

What can policy instruments do for increasing the deployment of renewable energy in India or in developing countries in general?

Geothermal energy development in Central America, Indonesia and the Philippines – a blueprint for the future?

National energy strategy for China

#2  Nuclear Power in France v. the U.S

Is a zero net energy building- or campus- a realistic sustainable goal?

PURPA: Lessons learned in the promotion of alternative energy

National energy strategy for UAE

Iceland: Today and Beyond

Is there a next generation for nuclear power in the US?

Assess future of a local company called GreenFuel Technologies – their technology uses power plant flue gases to grow algae for making biodiesel & ethanol

Economic Controls for Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Efficient mix of solar thermal and photovoltaics for buildings.

Oil Sands Recovery

Feasibility of CO2 Emission Control and Industrial Development in China  (China's Sustainable Development)

Geothermal: Why I Never Hear About It

Solar Updraft Towers; Technology challenges and siting (compared to what?)

The future of Solar beyond conventional PV – Can they really make a difference as a major alternative energy supply?

Can advances in bionanotechnology provide better solutions to the problems of sustainable energy on a large scale?

Toxic Waste produced by nuclear energy

Exploring the Potential of Battery Technology Innovation for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Is the Tata Motor Company’s Nano car a good thing for developing countries?

What CCS demonstration projects are being implemented now; when might the technology actually start being deployed in the electric sector?

Will the technology of modern biology enable the production of competitive fuels?

Can nuclear power be used in developing countries effectively and safely?

Think in 2008: The rise and fall of an electric car. Will it work the third time?

Wind Energy technology: Lessons learned from Altamont Pass, CA, and Nantucket Sound, MA

inclusion of externalities in stationary power generation from coal

Sustainable Energy in Developing Countries: Angola Africa & Salvador Brazil (Do one!)

Examination of current electrical power grid, limitations and future designs.

Geothermal Economics. Examine current geothermal technologies and their potential relationship to an economically competitive market

PBMR coupled with hydrogen production

Rate decoupling. How can the utilities’ earnings be “uncoupled” from consumption? Most energy utilities increase their revenues by increasing sales.



Last Updated 20/08/2008 by