Lecture 1 Review

The first lecture was an introductory lecture, which set out the objectives of the course. The format of the course was given, with the main topics to be covered being Solar Thermal, Solar Photovoltaic, Wind Energy, Ocean Energy and Geothermal Energy.

The way that we convert energy into a useable form was the next topic. Nearly all energy forms require some form of processing, whether they are Fossil Fuels, Nuclear or Renewable Sources. Generally they then need to be stored in some way, before the are finally converted into a useable form of energy, whether it is for transportation, industry or residential/commercial needs.

This then led us to sustainable energy, and why it is becoming vital for future energy needs. The human population is growing exponentially increasing by a factor of 6 in the last 200 years. That is combined with our increasing energy needs due to technological advances. On the other side we are running out of fossil fuels (e.g. Oil is predicted to run out within the next 50 years), and the pollution from our use of fossil fuels is generating more and more concern in terms of our health, and the health of our planet. So we need to find new ways of generating energy that produce less pollutants, and this is where renewable sources come in.

After explaining the units that we work with when dealing with energy and the conversions between them, the energy needs of the world was examined. Currently 85% of the world's energy comes from Fossil Fuels. The main reason for this is that it is currently much cheaper to generate energy in this way (less than 10 cents /kilowatt-hour) compared to renewable means. The United States use 25% of the energy generated in the world, even though they only have 5% of the population. This gives an indication of the energy needs of the future, as third world countries develop and start living lifestyles comparable to Americans. The lecture ended by looking at a Sankey Diagram which showed the ways in which the United States used the large amount of energy it requires, along with how much is wasted - 57.8%.