EME 802
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Systems

EME 802 Syllabus - Spring 2023

EME 802 Syllabus - Spring 2023

This syllabus is divided into several sections. You can read it sequentially by scrolling down the length of the document. It is essential that you read the entire document as well as the material covered in the course Orientation. Together these serve as our course "contract."


Eugene Morgan

Eugene Morgan

Associate Head for Undergraduate Education
Associate Teaching Professor
Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering
College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University

  • Zoom: Meeting ID: 961 2357 1088
  • E-mail: Please use the Canvas course e-mail system (see the Inbox link in Canvas).
  • Office Hours: I will check for and reply to messages throughout the workday. Please contact me to make an appointment if you’d like to speak to me at a given time. I am fairly flexible this semester and will make every effort to accommodate your schedule. We can also speak using Zoom.

I am involved in other university activities. E-mails will be looked at twice a day, but replies may be given only once a day. Although attempts will be made to reply as quickly as possible, you should not assume that all the e-mails sent after 5:00 PM or over the weekend will be replied to on the same day, even if a homework assignment is due that day.

Course Overview

The Renewable and Sustainable Energy Systems course provides a graduate-level understanding of the conversion principles and technology behind various renewable energy sources. It also examines the issues involved in the integration of various renewable energy sources and their economics for heat, power, and transportation needs. Based on the technical and sustainability challenges, the future outlook for each of the sources and systems is discussed. This is a required core course for the Master of Professional Studies in Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems Program.

Prerequisites and concurrent courses: NO official course prerequisite, but please see the Resources tab above for information about expected preparation for the course.

Course Objectives

When you successfully complete this course, you will be to:

  • understand the principles of operation of the broad spectrum of renewable energy technologies;
  • conduct preliminary resource assessments for a variety of renewable energy technologies;
  • analyze energy technologies from a systems perspective;
  • articulate the technical challenges for each of the renewable sources; and
  • discuss economic, technical, and sustainability issues involved in the integration of renewable energy systems.


On average, most students spend eight to ten hours per week working on course assignments. Your workload may be more or less depending on your study habits.

We have worked hard to make this the most effective and convenient educational experience possible. The Internet may still be a novel learning environment for you, but, in one sense, it is no different than a traditional college class: How much and how well you learn is ultimately up to you. You will succeed if you are diligent about keeping up with the class schedule and if you take advantage of opportunities to communicate with me, as well as with your fellow students.

Specific learning objectives for each lesson and project are detailed within each lesson. The class schedule is published under the Calendar tab in Canvas (the course management system used for this course).

Required Course Materials

Recommended textbooks (not required):

Boyle, Godfrey. Renewable Energy: Power for a Sustainable Future, Third Edition. Oxford University Press, 2012.

Tester, et al. Sustainable Energy, Choosing Among Options, 2nd Edition. MIT Press, 2012.

Online lesson content

All other materials needed for this course are presented online through our course website and in Canvas. In order to access the online materials, you need to have an active Penn State Access Account user ID and password. If you have any questions about obtaining or activating your Penn State Access Account, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk.

Reserve materials

This course may use library Electronic Reserves (E-Reserves). More information about how to access this content is available in the course Orientation.


This course will rely on a variety of methods to assess and evaluate student learning, including:

  • Discussions: Each lesson will have discussion questions clearly identified in the lesson content. You are to comment on these questions in the Canvas discussion board as well as respond to another student's comment to earn your full participation grade for this category.
  • Quizzes: Each lesson will have an associated quiz that is due upon the completion of the lesson (I have built in an extra grace period of 1 day - quizzes submitted in this window will be accepted with a 20% grade penalty). Additionally, the lowest quiz grade will be dropped. 
  • Homework Assignments: There will be ~5 HW assignments throughout the course of the semester. They will cover material from multiple lessons per assignment.
  • Exams: There will be two exams in this course. The first will be after the 4th lesson, based on the material covered in lessons 1-4, and the second will be based on lessons 5-9.
  • Course Project: There will be a team project in this course that requires students to work together on a feasibility study for a renewable energy development project in a location of their choice using the technologies and tools presented in this class. More details will be provided several weeks into the course. A proposal will be required approximately halfway through the semester.
  • Citation and Reference Style: This page, the Academic Integrity and Citation Style Guide, provides a guide for a variety of styles (APA, MLA, AMA, Turabian, and Chicago). While we will not specify a particular style that must be used for your reports, you must choose one and be consistent with it in your writing.

It is important that your work is submitted in the proper format to the appropriate Canvas Drop Box or Discussion Forum and by the designated due date. I strongly advise that you not wait until the last minute to complete assignments—give yourself time to ask questions, think things over, and chat with others. You'll learn more, do better...and be happier!

Due dates for all assignments are posted on the course calendar in Canvas.

Make-up Exam Policy

Make-up exams will only be granted through the approval of the course instructor for legitimate and excused absences. Prior notification and approval for a make-up exam must be obtained by the student at least 72 hours prior to the scheduled exam. Special circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


Each Assignment's Value as a Percentage of Total Course Grade
Assignment Percent of Grade
Quizzes 15%
Assignments 25%
Exams (2 total) 30%
Project 20%
Discussion Forum Participation 10%

We will use the Canvas grade book to keep track of your grades. You can see your grades in the grade book, too, by clicking the Grades link in Canvas. Overall course grades will be determined as follows. Percentages refer to the proportion of all possible points earned.

Letter Grade and Corresponding Percentages
Letter Grade Percentages
A 93 - 100 %
A- 90 - 92.9 %
B+ 87 - 89.9 %
B 83 - 86.9 %
B- 80 - 82.9%
C+ 77 - 79.9 %
C 70 - 76.9 %
D 60 - 69.9 %
F < 60 %


There is no curve for this course.

Late Policy

"Late work" is not accepted, as this is a graduate course. However, in exceptional circumstances, you may contact the instructors to obtain approval for a late submission prior to the deadline. It is understood that many of you are working professionals, and situations may arise in which schedules can become difficult. All I ask is that you please try to keep these requests to a minimum and that you do indeed make a request for an extension in advance. You will also notice there is a built-in "extension" for the quizzes, which is to accommodate different time zones and potential busy evenings when these are due. Please try to aim for the night time deadline (or earlier) as a best practice.

EME 802 Course Schedule

imagePrintable Schedule

The course schedule for all assignments and activities will be managed through the Canvas Calendar. Please refer to the Calendar often to keep current on what is due and when. Any changes will be e-mailed to the class and updated in the Calendar.

Each lesson is roughly one week long in this course, with a couple of exceptions. In general, the lessons will be opened one or two at a time as the group works through the material. Each lesson will have an associated quiz. There will also be discussion questions posed within each lesson. Additionally, there will be ~5 HW assignments throughout the course. These will cover material from several lessons per assignment. The due dates for all of these materials may vary depending on the lesson, so pay close attention to the dates in Canvas.

Date: Week 0
Topics: Orientation
Readings: Review Syllabus and Orientation
Assignments: See list of tasks on welcome page of orientation.
Lesson 1 - The Energy Landscape
Date: Week 1
  • Current Global Energy Use
  • U.S. Energy Consumption
  • Lifetime of Fossil Fuels
  • Sustainability and Energy Use
  • Energy Conversion Technologies
  • Chapter 1- Introduction to Sustainable Energy
  • Energy Water Nexus reading assignment
  • Chapter 1.1 as well as Appendix A of Renewable Energy, Power for a Sustainable Future textbook (optional text for the course, reading is available in Electronic Reserves)
  • Quiz 1
  • Respond to Lesson 1 Discussion Questions.
  • HW 1 will be assigned along with Lesson 2.
Lesson 2 - Energy Systems
Date: Week 2
  • Thinking in Systems
  • Thermodynamics Primer
  • Applications of Thermodynamics
  • Thermodynamic Efficiency
  • Meadows: Systems 101 (PDF in Canvas)
  • Chapter 6.3 in Tester, Sustainable Energy Options on System Analysis Approaches (PDF in Canvas)
  • Quiz 2
  • Respond to Lesson 2 Discussion Questions.
  • HW 1
Lesson 3 - Grid Integration of Renewable Energy
Date: Week 3
  • Variability, Intermittency, and Dispatchability
  • Electric Grid Infrastructure
  • Integrating Renewable Energy into the Grid
  • Growing a More Efficient Grid
  • The Smart Grid
  • Secure Communication in the Smart Grid
  • Quiz 3
  • Respond to Lesson 3 Discussion Questions.
  • HW 2 will be assigned along with Lesson 4.
Lesson 4 - Solar Energy
Date: Week 4
  • Principles of Solar Radiation
  • Resource Foundations
  • Technology Challenges
  • Sustainability
  • Solar Energy Industry & Economics
  • Solar Example Problems
  • Quiz 4
  • Respond to Lesson 4 Discussion Questions.
  • HW 2
Mid-Term Exam 1
Date: Week 5
Lesson 5: Bioenergy
Date: Week 6
  • Sources of Feedstocks
  • Conversion Technology
  • Diesel and Ethanol
  • Biogas
  • Electricity Production
  • Transportation
  • Challenges
  • Sustainability
  • Economics
Readings: All readings are online through course website.
  • Quiz 5
  • Respond to Lesson 5 Discussion Questions.
  • HW 3 will be assigned along with Lesson 6.

Lesson 6 - Wind Energy
Date: Week 7
  • Origin of the Wind
  • Power in the Wind
  • Wind Resource Basics
  • Technologies
  • Challenges
  • Sustainability
  • Wind Energy Industry
  • Quiz 6
  • Respond to Lesson 6 Discussion Questions.
  • HW 3
Project Formation Week
Date: Week 8
Topics: Form Project Teams and Develop Project Concept
  • Project Preliminary Proposal

Lesson 7 - Water Power (Hydro, Tidal & Wave)
Date: Week 9
  • Hydro Resources
  • Hydro Project Types
  • Hydro Conversion Technologies
  • Tidal Resource
  • Tidal Power Conversion
  • Wave Resource
  • Wave Energy Conversion
  • Challenges to Sustainability
  • Quiz 7
  • Respond to Lesson 7 Discussion Questions.
  • HW 4 will be combined with Lesson 8.
Lesson 8 - Geothermal Energy
Date: Week 10
  • Principles
  • Geothermal Resources
  • Electricity Production
  • Conversion Technology
  • Challenges
  • Economics
  • Quiz 8
  • Respond to Lesson 8 Discussion Questions.
  • HW 4
Lesson 9 - Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Buildings
Date: Week 11
  • Heat Pumps
  • Classification of GHP Loops
  • Heat Pump Efficiency & Examples
  • Building Integrated Solar
  • Building Integrated Wind Energy
  • Building Efficiency & Demand Response
  • LEED Certification
  • There are external links embedded within the lesson.
  • Quiz 9
  • Respond to Lesson 9 Discussion Questions.
  • HW 5 will be due along with Lesson 10.
  • Mid-term Exam 2
Mid-Term Exam 2
Date: Week 12
Lesson 10 - Energy Storage
Date: Week 13
  • Applications of Energy Storage
  • Storage Characteristics
  • Energy Storage Technologies
  • Battery Examples
  • Sustainability
  • Quiz 10
  • Respond to Lesson 10 Discussion Questions.
  • HW 5

Class Support Services

Penn State Online offers online tutoring to World Campus students in math, writing, and some business classes. Tutoring and guided study groups for residential students are available through Penn State Learning.

Course Policies

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to your instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. It is up to your instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If, for any reason, the course work for the deferred grade is not completed by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of academic integrity. DO NOT copy and paste from unreferenced sources. Without exception: If you use a direct quote from any source, as part of any submitted assignment, the quote must be clearly noted and properly referenced. (In-line references are fine.)


The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as e-mail and bulletin board postings. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions, but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of forum messages. Please review Virginia Shea's "The Core Rules of Netiquette" for general guidelines that should be followed when communicating in this course.


This course must be viewed using one of the following browsers: Firefox (any version), Safari (versions 5.1 or 6.0), or Internet Explorer with the MathPlayer PlugIn. If you use any other browsers, there will be pages that do not load properly. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk (for World Campus students) or the ITS Help Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

Technical Requirements

For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on the World Campus Technical Requirements page, including the requirements listed for same-time, synchronous communications. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the HelpDesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

Internet Connection

Access to a reliable Internet connection is required for this course. A problem with your Internet access may not be used as an excuse for late, missing, or incomplete coursework. If you experience problems with your Internet connection while working on this course, it is your responsibility to find an alternative Internet access point, such as a public library or Wi-Fi ® hotspot.

Mixed Content

This site is considered a secure web site which means that your connection is encrypted. We do however link to content that isn't necessarily encrypted. This is called mixed content. By default, mixed content is blocked in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome. This may result in a blank page or a message saying that only secure content is displayed. Follow the directions on our Technical Requirements page to view the mixed content.


This course must be viewed using the latest version of Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or Edge. Internet Explorer is not supported. If you use any other browser, or if you are not using the latest version of your browser, some pages containing equations may not render properly. In addition, javascript must be enabled for equations to render properly. If you have any issues with equations not rendering properly, please update your browser to the latest version or try using a different browser. If you need additional technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the HelpDesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

Penn State E-mail Accounts

All official communications from Penn State are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information.

Academic Integrity

This course follows the procedures for academic integrity of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Penn State defines academic integrity as "the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner." Academic integrity includes "a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception." In particular, the University defines plagiarism as "the fabrication of information and citations; submitting others' work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other students' papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own." Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include course failure. To learn more, see Penn State's Academic Integrity Training for Students

Course Copyright

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Office for Student Disability Resources website provides contact information for Campus Disability Coordinators at every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Office for Student Disability Resources website

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled. You will participate in an intake interview and provide documentation. See documentation guidelines at Applying for Services from Student Disability Resources. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Change in Normal Campus Operations

In case of weather-related delays or other emergency camps disruptions or closures at the University, this online course will proceed as planned. Your instructor will inform you if there are any extenuating circumstances regarding content or activity due dates in the course due to these delays or closures. If you are affected by a weather-related emergency, please contact your instructor at the earliest possible time to make special arrangements.

Reporting Educational Equity Concerns

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated (Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance) and can be reported through Educational Equity via Report Bias.

Counseling and Psychological Services

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional well-being.  The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings.  These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity, and sexual orientation.  Services include the following:

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park  (CAPS): 814-863-0395
Counseling Services at Commonwealth Campuses
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741

Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Connect Online with Caution

Penn State is committed to educational access for all. Our students come from all walks of life and have diverse life experiences. As with any other online community, the lack of physical interaction in an online classroom can create a false sense of anonymity and security. While one can make new friends online, digital relationships can also be misleading. Good judgment and decision-making are critical when choosing to disclose personal information to others whom you do not know.

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time for reasons that are beyond your control, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor, following Penn State Deferred Grade Policy 48-40. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to the instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. Non-emergency permission for filing a deferred grade must be requested before the beginning of the final examination period.  It is up to the instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If permission is granted, you will work with the instructor to establish a communication plan and a clear schedule for completion within policy.  If for any reason, the coursework for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.


This course will be conducted entirely online. There will be no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete weekly assignments with specific due dates. Many of the assignments are open for multiple days, so it is your responsibility to complete the work early if you plan to travel or participate in national holidays, religious observances or University approved activities.

If you need to request an exception due to a personal or medical emergency, contact the instructor directly as soon as you are able. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect

Penn State is “committed to creating an educational environment which is free from intolerance directed toward individuals or groups and strives to create and maintain an environment that fosters respect for others” as stated in Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance. All members of this class are expected to contribute to a respectful, welcoming, and inclusive environment and to interact with civility.

For additional information, see:

Mandated Reporting Statement

Penn State’s policies require me, as a faculty member, to share information about incidents of sex-based discrimination and harassment (discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation) with Penn State’s Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators, regardless of whether the incidents are stated to me in person or shared by students as part of their coursework. For more information regarding the University's policies and procedures for responding to reports of sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct, please visit Penn State's Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention & Response website.

Additionally, I am required to make a report on any reasonable suspicion of child abuse in accordance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law.


Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus can be changed at any time, and you will be responsible for abiding by any such changes. All changes will be communicated with you via e-mail, course announcement and/or course discussion forum.