Renewable Energy Sources


This is an introduction to energy conversion and storage with special emphasis on renewable sources. Fundamental energy conversion limits based on physics and existing material properties will be discussed. Various sources such as solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal and fuel cells will be described. An analysis of different alternative sources will be performed and key scientific, economical and social roadblocks for large scale implementation will be examined. Finally, the latest research on solar cells and applications of nanotechnology on energy conversion and storage will be introduced.

Instructor: Oxana Pantchenko

Office: Engineering 2, room 239A


Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday 1:30 -2:30pm

Lecture: Tuesday & Thursday 4:00 - 5:45pm at Oakes Acad 105

Project Coordinator: Tiffany Wise-West  <>

Teaching Assistants: Dibya Phuyal <>

Grader: Alex Sassoon <>


  • Renewable Energy, Godfrey Boyle, 2nd Edition, 2004
  • Out of Gas, David Goodstein, 2004

Additional References: (reserved at Science & Engineering Library, 1 day)

  • Energy: Physical, Environmental, and Social Impact (3rd Edition) by Gordon J. Aubrecht (2005)
  • Energy at the Crossroads: Global Perspectives and Uncertainties by Vaclav Smil, (2005)
  • Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air, David MacKay free online version available- (2009)
  • Energy: Science, Policy, and the Pursuit of Sustainability by Randall Baker, Lloyd Orr, and Robert Bent (2002)

EE80J Pre-requisites: This class does not have any math, physics or engineering prerequisites. All the necessary concepts will be introduced during the course.

EE180J Pre-requisites: Math 3 or AMS 2,3,5 or 7. Enrollment is limited to 55. Please let me know asap if you need a permission code to register for this course. 

Hands-on Laboratories (all meet at Jack Baskin Engineering 302)

This provides an opportunity for students to see how various energy conversion devices work and understand better the advantages and difficulties to harness energy from renewable sources. Most of the experiments are done in groups of two.

Lab 1: Greenhouse effect Week of April 8th, 2012

Lab 2: Solar Pathfinder Week of April 15th, 2012

Lab 3: Flywheel Week of April 22th, 2012

Lab 4: Wind turbine Week of April 29th, 2012

Lab 5: Hydroelectricity Week of May 6th, 2012

Lab 6: Thermoelectricity Week of May 13th, 2012

Lab 7: Hydrogen fuel cell car Week of May 20th, 2012

Lab 1 Repeat: Greenhouse effect Week of May 27th, 2012 Tuesday and Wednesday labs only!!!


Meeting times:

  • Monday 11:00 - 12:10pm 
  • Monday 12:30 - 1:40pm
  • Monday 2:00 - 3:10pm 
  • Tuesday 6:00 - 7:15pm
  • Wednesday 11:00 - 12:10pm
  • Wednesday 12:30 - 1:40pm
  • Wednesday 2:00 - 3:10pm

Tentative Lecture and Homework Schedule

4/3/2012 Lecture 1: Introduction

HW: Out of Gas Book pages 1-40  

Energy and the Environment

Introduction to Renewable Technologies

Scientific Notation 


4/5/2012 Lecture 2: Energy Overview  


Energy Conversion and Efficiency

Temperature and Heat

EE180J HW Only: HW1 Due 4/12/2012  at 4PM on eCommons


4/10/2012 Lecture 3 Energy Basics, Temperature & Heat


Energy Services

Basic Electricity

Electric Power History


4/12/2012 Lecture 4 Power and Personal Energy Audit


Home Energy Audit

Hot Water


Boyle pages 66-83 & 92-100

EE180J HW Only: HW2 Due 4/19/2012 at 4PM on eCommons


4/17/2012 Lecture 5 Guest speaker Prof. Ali Shakouri on Photovoltaics.

4/19/2012 Midterm. Bring your calculators. 

4/24/2012 Lecture 6 Guest speaker Tiffany Wise-West. EE180J project topics will be introduced and groups will be formed.

EE180J HW Only: Post on our class forum. 


4/26/2012 Lecture 7 Guest speaker Tamara Ball. EE80J proposal introduction, forming of groups. IDEASS project summary. 

5/1/2012 Lecture 8 Guest speaker Prof. Lipschutz on Scarcity, Surplus and Society.

HW: Boyle pages 106-112,127,133-145.

Biomass Energy.

Biomass Resources

Goodstein pages 43-56. 


5/3/2012  Lecture 9 Guest speaker Prof. Monsen on Biomass & Personal Energy Audit Results Presentation

Goodstein pages 59 - 123.

EE180J Only: HW3 due 5/10/2012 on eCommons at 4PM

Ethanol Production Using Corn, Switchgrass, and Wood; Biodiesel Production Using Soybean and Sunflower (2005 study by Dr. Pimental and Dr. Patzek)

Video on gasifier fuels:

Basics of gasification:

Car we saw:

Short articles on algal biofuels: and


5/8/2012 Lecture 10 Local efforts on renewable energy sources, Jonathan Trent TED talk, Q and A. Discussion of "Out of Gas" reading. 

HW: Nuclear Energy History

5/10/2012 Lecture 11 Guest speaker Prof. Vesecky on Nuclear Energy History

HW: Hydrogen Fuel Cell

Boyle pages 406-409

Energy Storage 

Boyle pages 157-181


5/15/2012 Lecture 12 Guest speaker Prof. Shakouri on Hydrogen Economy, Fuel Cells and Energy Storage

HW: Boyle pages 244-248,270-285


5/17/2012 Lecture 13 Wind Power

HW: Boyle pages 342-349, 148-154,177-192, 196-203, 298-302, 334, 337.

EE180J Only: HW4 due 5/24/2012 at 4PM on eCommons

Lecture Notes


5/22/2012 Lecture 14 Hydroelectricity, Ocean Power, Geothermal

Lecture Notes


5/24/2012 Lecture 15 Class Overview

Lecture Notes

5/29/2012 EE180J Proposal Presentations

  • 4:00 Group 7
  • 4:20 Group 1
  • 4:40 Group 2
  • 5:00 Group 9
  • 5:20 Group 5

5/31/2012 EE180J Proposal Presentations

  • 4:00 Group 4 
  • 4:20 Group 10 
  • 4:40 Group 3 
  • 5:00 Group 8
  • 5:20 Group 6

6/05/2012 EE80J Proposal Presentations

  • 4:00 Group 4, Project 9
  • 4:20 Group 6, Project 7
  • 4:40 Group 3, Project 1
  • 5:00 Group 1, Project 3

6/07/2012 EE80J Proposal Presentations

  • 4:00 Group 5, Project 8
  • 4:20 Group 7, Project 4
  • 4:40 Group 2, Project 10

6/11/2012 Final 4 - 7PM 


Personal Home Energy Audit (Due 4/25/2012 at 12PM on eCommons)

Part I: Report

Report format:

  • Abstract (5pts)
  • Introduction (should include information about student) (5pts)
  • Calculations and Analysis
    • List of energy services and sources (5 pts)
    • Hot water consumption (15 pts)
    • Transportation (15 pts)
    • Electricity usage (kWh/day) & (J / week)
      • Calculated from labels (15 pts)
      • Measured with “Kill a Watt” meter (15 pts)
        • When appliances are on
        • When appliances are off
  • Conclusion (should include qualitative and quantitative analysis summary from previous section). Should answer following questions (15 pts)
    • Which energy services are the biggest energy users?
    • How would you expect energy use for each service to change though out the year?
    • Any surprises or noteworthy points?
    • From working on this project, would you now consider alternative energy sources for particular services?
    • From the calculations above, suggest a replacement for one of the high energy appliances? 
    • Would you now consider a habit or lifestyle change?
    • Compare your results to the data collected by David MacKay.

Part II: Questionnaire

To complete the Questionnaire (10pts) please click here.


Group project ( in groups of 5 or 6 )

EE80J: Write a 10 page proposal a project related to renewable energy. More details on this later.

EE180J: Write a 20 page proposal on making Santa Cruz Wharf green.  Group meetings with Tiffany on Skype. More details on this later. 

Proposal Outline: Due  Thursday, May 17th, 2012 at 4pm on eCommons

Proposal Rough Draft: Due Thursday, May 24th, 2012 at 4pm on eCommons

Final Proposal: Due Thursday, June 7th, 2012 at 4pm on eCommons

Self/Peer Evaluation Form: Due Thursday, June 7th,  2012 at 4pm on eCommons

Final Presentations: May 29th & 31st, June 5th & 7th in class.


EE80J Grading:

Midterm (10%)

Personal home energy audit (20%)

Quizzes (10%) (6 top scores)

Labs (30%) (6/7 top scores)

Group project (30%)


EE180J Grading:

Midterm (10%)

Personal home energy audit (20%)

Quizzes (10%) (6 top scores)

Labs (20%) (6/7 top scores)

Homework (10%) (total 4 assignments)

Group project (20%)

Final (10%)

Classroom accommodations information

If you qualify for classroom accommodations because of a disability, please get an Accommodation Authorization from the Disability Resource Center (DRC) and submit it to me in person outside of class (e.g., office hours) within the first two weeks of the quarter. Contact DRC at 459-2089 (voice), 459-4806 (TTY), or for more information on the requirements and/or process.

Academic Dishonesty and Cheating

Any confirmed academic dishonesty including but not limited to copying reports or cheating on exams, will result in a no-pass or failing grade. You are encouraged to read the campus policies regarding academic integrity. Examples of cheating include (but are not limited to):

  • Copying results or other information during in-class activities or final.
  • Submitting a report that is not your own work.
  • Using material from internet, books, journals, other people's reports without proper referencing

If there is any question as to whether a given action might be construed as cheating, see me before you engage in any such action.

Instructors and Assistants