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Energy Within Environmental Constraints

Harvard University via edX

students interested
  • Provider edX
  • $ Cost Free Online Course
  • Session Self Paced
  • Language English
  • Certificate $125 Certificate Available
  • Effort 3-5 hours a week
  • Start Date
  • Duration 10 weeks long

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Humanity faces an immense challenge: providing abundant energy to everyone without wrecking the planet. If we want a high-energy future while protecting the natural world for our children, we must consider the environmental consequences of energy production and use. But money matters too: energy solutions that ignore economic costs are not realistic, particularly in a world where billions of people currently can’t afford access to basic energy services. How can we proceed?

Energy Within Environmental Constraints won’t give you the answer. Instead, we will teach you how to ask the right questions and estimate the consequences of different choices.

This course is rich in details of real devices and light on theory. You won’t find any electrodynamics here, but you will find enough about modern commercial solar panels to estimate if they would be profitable to install in a given location. We emphasizes costs: the cascade of capital and operating costs from energy extraction all the way through end uses. We also emphasize quantitative comparisons and tradeoffs: how much more expensive is electricity from solar panels than from coal plants, and how much pollution does it prevent? Is solar power as cost-effective an environmental investment as nuclear power or energy efficiency? And how do we include considerations other than cost?

This course is intended for a diverse audience. Whether you are a student, an activist, a policymaker, a business owner, or a concerned citizen, this course will help you start to think carefully about our current energy system and how we can improve its environmental performance.

Photo credits:

Solar Farm CC-BY Michael Mees on flickr
Smokestack CC-BY Patrick on flickr

Taught by

David Keith and Daniel Thorpe

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Reviews for edX's Energy Within Environmental Constraints
4.7 Based on 3 reviews

  • 5 stars 67%
  • 4 star 33%
  • 3 star 0%
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  • 1
Sandro A
5.0 2 years ago
by Sandro completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
A really comprehensive course, which gives an idea of the global energy status.

the professor tackles the energy problem and mix with a rational and quantitative analysis.

I really enjoyed the course.
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Mehmet B
4.0 a year ago
by Mehmet completed this course.
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Sara C
5.0 a year ago
by Sara completed this course.
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