EME 897
Solar Energy Integration and Economics



EME 897 - Solar Energy Integration and Economics, Summer 2024

This is the official syllabus for students enrolled at Penn State University.  This will serve as a guide for the University of Freiburg students. Freiburg students should refer to their Learning Management System for grading criteria etc.

This syllabus is divided into several sections, as listed below. 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."

  • Instructors
  • Teaching Assistant
  • Class Support Services
  • Course Overview
  • Required Course Materials
  • Assignments and Grading
  • Course Schedule
  • Course Policies


Anke Weidlich (University of Freiburg)
Full Professor at the Technical Faculty, Department of Sustainable Systems Engineering (INATECH)
University of Freiburg

Mark Kleinginna (Penn State / Integral Energy)
College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University

  • E-mail: mdk272@psu.edu Please use the course e-mail system.
  • Office Hours: Zoom office hours will be scheduled as needed.

NOTE: I will read and respond to e-mail and discussion forums at least once per day during the workweek (Monday through Friday). You may see me online occasionally on the weekends, but please don't count on it!

Teaching Assistant/Tutor

Nick Harder
Research Associate
Institute for Sustainable Systems Engineering - INATECH Department of Control and Integration of Grids
University of Freiburg

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

Elective for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Systems Degree (RESS)

EME 897 is a collaborative virtual classroom course offered through Penn State’s World Campus and Distance Learning at the University of Freiburg. Experts from both universities will teach the technical and economic aspects of the integration of solar energy into the modern grid networks.  
The course is designed to facilitate comprehension of the implications, challenges, and possible solutions for a predominantly renewable energy grid system, specifically focusing on the role of solar PV power. The course will compare the latest models for utilizing PV power, including utility-scale, community PV, and microgrid solutions. 

Topics addressed in the course include:

  1. Characteristics of solar energy in power systems: generation patterns and forecasts, demand and supply matching, net load, grid parity, impact on electricity prices, the role of solar in highly renewable energy scenarios;  
  2. Grid integration challenges: frequency control and possible contributions of solar PV, power quality in the distribution grid, inverter control strategies, storage;
  3. Economic assessment: investment appraisal, levelized cost of electricity, learning curves, value of solar generation/intermittency, market integration, optimal system sizing and design decisions, economic comparison of different PV technologies; 
  4. Business models and applications of PV solar systems: self-consumption, communities, off-grid solutions, microgrids.

Delivery: The course is delivered asynchronously, so your presence in the classroom at a specific time will not be required. However, instructors will be available for live communication via online meeting platforms to provide students with more direct contact if necessary and there may be opportunities for optional live discussions throughout the semester. 


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.

I 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 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 as well as with your fellow students.

Specific learning objectives for each lesson and project are detailed in each lesson. The class schedule is published below and in your learning management system (Canvas for USA students).

Required Course Materials

There are no required textbooks for this class; materials will be provided as online content.  However, throughout the course, option readings will be suggested for further study and interest.  

Online lesson content
All materials needed for this course are presented online through our course website and in the course management system (Canvas). In order to access the online materials, 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 World Campus Helpdesk.

Weekly Assignments and Grading:

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

  • Online discussions -
    These discussions are not graded, but students should take the opportunity to engage with the content and develop a learning community with students from all parts of the world!  We expect the forums will be a place to demonstrate professionalism, comprehension of lesson materials, critical thinking, and active engagement in the forum communications. There will also be six optional zoom live sessions throughout the semester to supplement the online material and ask questions.
  • Model Project, broken into weekly assignments -
    A comprehensive model spreadsheet will be built throughout several lessons with the final assignment combining all parts. 
  • Exam -
    There will be one exam after week 8.

It is important that your work is your own (with proper citations provided where appropriate) and submitted on time.  Submission of assignments will be handled through your Learning Management System or Piazza. I strongly advise that you not wait until the last minute to complete these 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 syllabus and course calendar in the learning management system. 

    Grade Breakdown

    Assignment Percent of Grade
    Lesson Activities 50%
    Exam (after week 8) 50%

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


    Letter Grade and Corresponding Percentage
    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 %

    Unsatisfactory (student did not participate)

    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.

    Late Policy

    I do not accept any "late work" except in exceptional circumstances.  If you are not able to meet course deadlines, you should contact me as soon as possible.  Much of your success in this course involves timely participation in discussion forums and assignments that scaffold throughout the course. The earlier you contact me to request a late submission, the better. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Generally, late assignments will be assessed a penalty of at least 10% and will not be accepted more than one week after the original due date.

    Course Schedule

    imagePrintable Schedule

    Below you will find a summary of the primary learning activities for this course and the associated time frames. This course is twelve weeks in length. Each lesson is one week long. See our Syllabus/Calendar in the learning management system for specific lesson time frames and assignment due dates.

    NOTE: See the Learning Management System Syllabus or Calendar for a full semester calendar of events.

    Week 1: Introduction
    Topics: Cost trends, production shape, avoided transmission, autonomy
    Assignments: Discussion, Zoom session 1
    Week 2: Power Systems and Grid Integration
    Topics: Introduction to Power Systems and Grid Integration
    Assignments: Assignment, Discussion 
    Week 3: Part 1: Challenges of high solar penetration - transmission network level
    Topics: Introduction into the challenges of high RE integration at transmission network level, Supply and demand balance, Frequency control, Spinning mass & inertia of the system
    Assignments: Discussion, Assignment, Zoom session 2
    Week 4: Part 2: Challenges of high solar penetration - transmission network level
    Topics: Congestion management for high RE penetration, Redispatch measures & TSO flexibility options, Grid extension, Comparision of AC&DC transmission, Line vs. Cable discussion
    Assignments: Discussion
    Week 5: Part 1: Challenges of higher solar penetration - distribution network level
    Topics: Introduction into the challenges of PV integration at distribution network level, Active/Reactive power, Reactive power for voltage control, Storage systems/Inverters for voltage control
    Assignments: Assignment, Zoom session 3
    Week 6: Part 2: Challenges of higher solar penetration - distribution network level
    Topics: Grid extension measures, Smart grid & DSO flexibility options, Cellular approach & P2P energy trading
    Assignments:  Discussion
    Week 7: Wholesale energy and capacity markets
    Topics: Demand curve, Supply curve, Locational markets and congestion, Capacity Markets, PPAs and why
    Assignments: Discussion, Assignment, Zoom session 4
    Week 8: Electricity markets and Ancillary services
    Topics: Day-Ahead Market, Intraday Market, Control Reserve Market/Energy Balancing
    Assignments: Discussion, Assignment
    Week 9: The Importance of Policy and Regulation for Solar Industry
    Topics: Utility reulgation at state level and federal level
    Assignments: Discussion, Assignment, Zoom session 5, Exam
    Week 10: Solar Finance
    Topics: Financial metrics, building proforma
    Assignments: Discussion
    Week 11: Risk Management
    Topics: P50, P90, P99, Current Findings, Degradation coefficients
    Assignments: Discussion, Zoom session 6
    Week 12: Interconnection of other non-traditional assets
    Topics Batteries, Wind, Other DERs, Grid Hardening, Texas Case Study
    Assignments: Discussion, Assignment

    Course Policies

    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.

    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).

    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.

    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:


    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.

    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.