EME 810
Solar Resource Assessment and Economics

EME 810 Syllabus


Welcome to Solar Resource Assessment and Economics, Spring 2024

This syllabus is divided into several sections. It is essential that you read the entire document to pass the course Orientation. 


headshot of Mark Fedkin
Mark Fedkin

Mark Fedkin

Assistant Teaching Professor, Energy and Mineral Engineering, Dutton e-Education Institute, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University

Office Hours: Online (via Zoom) by appointment.

Email: Please use the Inbox tool in Canvas for any course communications. That helps me not to miss your message and reply in a timely manner.

I will do my best to get back to you within 24 hours. Another option is to post on the "General Questions" discussion board in Canvas. 

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 Overview

Description: Methods, economic criteria, and meteorological background for assessing the solar resource with respect to solar energy conversion technologies.

Prerequisites: None

EME 810 provides students with an in-depth exploration of the physical qualities of the solar resource, estimation of the fractional contributions of irradiance to total demand, and economic assessment of the solar resource. The course utilizes real data sets and resources to provide students context for the drivers, frameworks, and requirements of solar energy evaluation.

EME 810 is designed to help students achieve three of the programmatic educational objectives established for the Master of Professional Studies in Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems (MPS RESS) program. It fosters advanced critical thinking by challenging the students to understand the systems approach required to assess the impact of locale and resource and to understand the economic factors driving decisions for solar technology design and deployment. It applies the science of energy and sustainability through a deep understanding of the solar resource and how it applies to solar energy conversion systems. It promotes energy and sustainability project development by adding content knowledge to enable design decisions and technology constraints for solar technologies for maximizing solar utility for a client/stakeholder in a given locale.

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

  • assess the solar resource to identify the greatest solar utility for a client in a given locale;
  • articulate the scientific and economic fundamentals of the solar resource as it applies to solar energy conversion;
  • describe the role of solar fraction in designing a solar project for a client;
  • identify the limitations of solar energy conversion technologies with respect to the given locale and client energy demands.

What is expected of you

EME 810 is a 3-credit graduate course. As a general rule, you can expect that a 3-credit course will call for an average of approximately 9-12 hours of work each week. This time commitment will include reading, watching videos, completing writing assignments and quizzes, and participating in discussion and peer review activities. Your workload may be more or less depending on your prior experience with the concepts covered, web research, and calculations. Every student is also expected to synthesize their knowledge in the solar design proposal in the end of the semester. 

I have worked hard to make this the most effective and convenient educational experience possible. Online learning may still be a novel experience for you, but in one sense it is no different from 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 and your fellow students.

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

Required course materials

Assistance with textbooks

Penn State honors and values the socioeconomic diversity of our students. If you require assistance with the costs of textbooks for this course, please contact your academic advisor. For additional needs, related to socioeconomic status, please visit Project Cahir or visit the Office of Student Care and Advocacy at 222 Boucke Building or call 814-863-2020.

All additional materials needed for this course are presented in our course website, in Canvas modules, and through the Penn State Library E-Reserves. In order to take this course, you need to have an active Penn State Access Account user ID and password (used to access the online course resources). If you have any questions about obtaining or activating your Penn State Access Account, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk.

Assignments and Grading

This course will rely upon a variety of methods to assess student learning. The specific evaluation criteria with corresponding grade percentages are listed in the table below:

Breakdown of course assignments as a percentage of the total course grade
Assignment Percentage
Participation - Yellowdig discussions 15%
Weekly learning activities 35%
Quizzes 10%
Project: Solar Design Proposal  40%

Final overall grades will be determined based on your grades on each course assignment, using the weighting information shown above. So that you know where you stand, all grades will be posted in Canvas with each assignment. You will be able to track your progress and calculate your average as the course goes along.

Letter grades will be based on the following percentages:

Letter grades and corresponding percentage ranges
Letter Grade Percentage Range
A 94–100%
A- 90–93.9%
B+ 85–89.9%
B 80–84.9%
B- 75–79.9%
C+ 70–74.9%
C 65–69.9%
D 60–64.9%
F <60%
X Unsatisfactory (student did not participate)

Percentages refer to the proportion of all possible points earned by the student. No rounding-up grades or curve are used in this course. Be prepared to put your best effort into all of the assignments as you complete them.

Late Policy

It is expected that all course-related assignments, quizzes, discussion posts are completed by the assigned due date. Deadline extensions may be granted on a case to case basis due to personal emergencies and must be communicated to the Instructor at least 1 week prior to the submission deadline. Time sensitive assignments may have point deductions for late submissions. 

Make-up Exam Policy

There are no exams in this course.

EME 810 Course Schedule

printer iconPrintable Schedule

Below you will find a summary of topics included in this course. This course consists of twelve lessons (modules), which are taught over 15 weeks of the Fall or Spring semester, with an orientation week preceding the official start of the course. The final weeks of the course are reserved for completition of the course project. For specific due dates for starting lessons and submitting assignments, please refer to Calendar in Canvas. 

Course Orientation
LESSON 1 The Historical Context of Solar Energy Valued in Society
LESSON 2 Tools for Time and Space Relationships
LESSON 3 Meteorology: the Many Facets of the Sky
LESSON 4 Measurement and Estimations of the Solar Resource
LESSON 5 Solar Economic Analysis
LESSON 6 Maximizing the Solar Utility for the Client in a Locale
LESSON 7 Solar Finance
LESSON 8 Methods of Prediction
LESSON 9 Analysis for Policy Development
LESSON 10 Ecosystems Impact from Solar Land Use
LESSONS 11-12 Solar Design Project Proposal Development

Course Policies

Citation and Reference Style

All work must be properly cited. In this course, the recommended citation style is APA (American Psychological Association). For help with citations, see The Purdue OWL: Research and Citations.


The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as email 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 will be conducted entirely online. There will be no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete assignments with specific due dates. Many of the assignments are open for multiple days. It is your responsibility to complete the work on time, which may require you 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. The instructor's ability to accommodate you is dependent on the earliest possible notification. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Other Open Source Software

The learning activities will require you to work with various open source applications. You can find a list of these applications on the Technical Requirements page of the Orientation.

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 IT Service Desk (for World Campus students) or Penn State's IT Help Portal (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 campus 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 in fostering 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 to you via e-mail, course announcement and/or course discussion forum.