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Graduate courses

Departments' graduate courses for PhD-students.


Syllabus for

Academic year
FFR170 - Sustainable energy futures
Syllabus adopted 2014-02-26 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPSES
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Five, Four, Three, Not passed
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Energy and Environmental Systems and Technology, Chemical Engineering with Engineering Physics, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering

Teaching language: English
Open for exchange students
Block schedule: B
Maximum participants: 110

Course module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0104 Examination 7,5 c Grading: TH   7,5 c   27 Oct 2014 am M,  03 Jan 2015 am M,  27 Aug 2015 pm M

In programs

MPTSE INDUSTRIAL ECOLOGY, MSC PROGR, Year 1 (compulsory elective)


Professor  Christian Azar

Course evaluation:


In order to be eligible for a second cycle course the applicant needs to fulfil the general and specific entry requirements of the programme that owns the course. (If the second cycle course is owned by a first cycle programme, second cycle entry requirements apply.)
Exemption from the eligibility requirement: Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling these requirements.

Course specific prerequisites

Documented calculation skills, basic knowledge of energy conversion and at least 7,5 HE credits worth of courses in sustainable development or environmental science.


The course should give the student knowledge of the general development of the energy system (past development and outlook for the future), its environmental and resource impacts, as well as tools to analyze these developments.
The overall aim of this course is to address the following questions:

  • How will climate change policies reshape the world energy system over the next century?
  • What role may increased energy efficiency, renewables, fossil fuel and nuclear power, play in the near and long term future if the climate challenge is to be met?
  • In which sectors are limited energy resources most efficiently used, e.g., should biomass be used for transportation fuels or for heat production?
  • Which climate policies are needed for a cost-effective solution to the climate challenge?

The aim is to illustrate these issues by drawing upon recent research in the area, and based upon this to discuss and problematize existing visions for a sustainable energy future.

Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to)

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • apply the concepts and tools presented in the course (see below under Content) to analyze real-world problems related to energy systems.

  • understand when an approach using marginal or average electricity is more appropriate in a specific context, and apply this knowledge to solve the problem

  • describe how a cap-and-trade scheme works, and reflect upon advantages and disadvantages compared to other policy instruments

  • explain the concept of climate sensitivity and what implications the uncertainty in this parameter will have for the future energy system

  • discuss why developed and developing countries often disagree during climate negotiations

  • understand the complexity of controversial energy technologies such as carbon capture and storage, bioenergy or nuclear power, and to present the major arguments of both sides

  • explain why energy efficiency measures are often not implemented, even though they may be quite profitable

  • explain what options grid operators have for dealing with large amounts of variable renewable electricity sources like solar or wind power

  • calculate the levelized cost of electricity, given fuel costs, operation & maintenence costs, and investment costs

  • calculate how much uranium is required to operate a nuclear reactor for a year, and how much plutonium is produced

  • make appropriate assumptions when available information on a problem of the above type is incomplete

  • perform back-of-envelope calculations to make rough "sanity checks" of energy systems questions. For example: if a family installs solar cells on the roof of their house, would the modules provide enough electricity (on average) to power their electric car?


  • Systems analysis - system boundaries, scale, space & time, emission allocation problems, net energy analysis, marginal vs average electricity

  • Energy economics - cost efficiency, discounting, investment analysis, prices vs costs, supply & demand curves, external costs, opportunity costs

  • Climate science and emission trends - current and historic emissions, climate sensitivity and its uncertainty, implications for future emission reductions, burden sharing between developed and developing countries

  • Policy instruments - carbon taxes vs cap-and-trade schemes, direct support vs technology neutral policies, feed-in tariffs and other instruments

  • Energy efficiency - end-use efficiency, price elasticity of demand, the energy efficiency gap, rebound effects

  • Fossil fuels - history of fossil fuel use, future availability, peak oil, shale gas and other new technologies

  • Carbon capture and storage - capture processes (post-combustion, precombustion, oxyfuels), transport and storage options, leakage risk, costs

  • Nuclear power - nuclear physics and fuel cycles, basic light water reactor design, safety, waste management, link to nuclear weapons, nuclear power in the global energy system

  • Intermittent renewables - grid integration of solar and wind power, global potential, recent growth and cost development, solar heating and cooling, solar fuels

  • Bioenergy - biofuel production, land use and implications for food production, emissions from direct and indirect land use change

  • Other topics - power grids, energy use in the transport sector, batteries, fuel cells and hydrogen, energy in the developing world, international climate politics


The course consists of lectures (including several guest lectures), calculation exercises for homework and discussion in class, and student debates on issues in energy and environment.


  • Course compendium

  • Solving the climate challenge by Christian Azar (Swedish title: Makten över klimatet).

Both are sold at Cremona (the Chalmers student litterature bookstore).


Written exam and active participation in at least one student debate.

Page manager Published: Thu 04 Feb 2021.