This course introduces students to concepts and environmental consequences of sustainable and fossil energy sources. The course begins with an introduction to the scientific principles and terminology of the field. Students gain a deeper understanding of the topic through hands-on experiments using alternate energy systems at Camp Davis, which include a combination of solar photovoltaic, solar heating, wind generation and/or hydroelectric. The Camp Davis campus is used as a small experimental “city” where energy and resource use can be carefully monitored and manipulated by students. In addition, the class travels throughout Wyoming and Idaho visiting and investigating facilities important for power generation. Depending on access during a particular summer, visitations may include a nuclear reactor, hydroelectric generation station, wind farm, solar farm, and/or gas/coal generators. Studies of the ecological consequences of various power options will take the class to additional sites which may include a uranium mine, a coal mine and a natural gas field. Finally students study the ecology of forest growth and succession and deep-well injection to gain an understanding of carbon storage in soils and vegetation, and principles of carbon sequestration.
Readings include Energy: A Beginner’s Guide by Vaclav Smil, The Guide to Renewable Energy by Dan Chiras; and Sustainable Energy: Choosing Among Options by Jeff Tester et al.
Crs Requirements: Two mid-term exams (20 points each) and four group projects (15 points each):
- Developing an energy systems model for the Camp Davis facility;
- Monitoring energy production and usage at the Camp Davis facility;
- Experiments with the efficiency of alternate energy from solar, wind geothermal and hydro;
- Estimating soil and forest carbon storage potential.
Intended Audience: The course would be appropriate for a wide-range of students from virtually any discipline or concentration who are interested in the concepts and environmental consequences of sustainable and fossil energy sources.
Class Format: At least 6 hrs weekly of lectures and field trips near Camp Davis in Jackson, Wyoming