Sustainable Energy Sources


About this course

The course treats relevant aspects of sustainable energy systems and consists of 2 parts:

PART A : General concepts, principles and methods:

The course concentrates on the following commonsustainable energy sources :

  • Solar energy

  • Energy from biomass

  • Geothermal energy

  • Wind energy

Important for the exploitation of sustainable energy is that it cannot always directly be utilized in its primary form. Hence, actual utilization in a sustainable energy system often requires conversion into a useful form and/or storage for availability at a useful time. To this end the course treats concepts and methods for energy conversion and energy storage. The concepts and methods discussed may vary slightly from year to year.

  • Energy conversion. End users normally require energy in the form of heat and/or power (i.e. electricity). Relevant conversions within the context of this course are:

  • conversion of heat into power (e.g. a steam power plant heated by biomass);

  • conversion of solar energy into heat (e.g. solar-thermal panels);

  • conversion of solar energy into power (e.g. photo-voltaic cells).

  • Energy storage. Supply of and demand for energy are often out of phase. For instance, solar energy peaks during Summer yet the need for heating peaks in Winter. Storage of energy can tackle such mismatches. Two concepts relevant in the present scope are:

  • heat storage (e.g. aquifiers or solar ponds);

  • electro-chemical energy storage (e.g. batteries or fuel cells).

This part will be offered in the form of lectures on the following topics:

  • General introduction (Rindt)

  • Energy from biomass (Maes)

  • Geothermal energy (Speetjens)

  • Wind energy (Schepers)

  • Conversion of solar energy into electricity: photovoltaic cells (Creatore)

  • Conversion of solar energy into heat: solar-thermal collectors (Zondag)

  • Conversion of heat into power: Rankine cycle (Speetjens)

  • Thermal energystorage (Zondag)

  • Electro-chemical energy storage (Danilov)

The lectures are scheduled typically in blocks of 2x 2 hrs. per week (see CANVAS for a detailed planning per edition of the course).

PART B : Design of a geothermal combined heat & power (CHP) plant:

This part concerns the actual design of a sustainable energy system within the framework of the concepts and methods treated in Part A. Objective is the design of a geothermal combined heat & power (CHP) plant. The design process involves3 stages:

  • thermodynamic design of a CHP plant using the binary or flash-plant concepts;

  • design of heat exchangers and steam generators;

  • economic analysis to assess the commercial viability of the CHP plant.

This part will be carried out in the form of a project consisting of 2 parts:

  • Part B.1 : pair-wise design of a reference CHP plant by pairs of 2 students on the basis of design criteria specified during the introductory lecture (see below).

  • Part B.2 : pair-wise design of a CHP plant by modification of the reference plant. To this end 4 sets of alternative design criteria will be defined. Each pair modifies the reference design of the CHP plant according to one of these alternative design requirements. The lecturer determines the alternative design criteria for each pair via random selection.

The project is accompanied by a separate series of lectures and meetings:

  • Introductory lecture: general description and design criteria (Speetjens)

  • Support lectures (2 hrs. each):

  • Thermodynamic design of geothermal plants (Speetjens)

  • Design of heat exchangers (Rindt)

  • Design of steam generators (Smeulders)

  • Feedback and consultation meetings (2x 2 hrs. per week)

These lectures and meetings are also scheduled typically in blocks of 2x 2 hrs. per week (see CANVAS for a detailed planning per edition of the course).

Conclusion of Part B is as follows:

  • Part B.1 will be concluded by a report on the reference design of the CHP plant. Note that this report will not be examined or graded; its sole purpose is to provide a reference design for the geothermal plant and serve as guideline for discussions during the feedback meetings.

  • Part B.2 will be concluded by a separate report on the alternative plant design. The project will be graded on the basis of this report (see below).

Both the report on the reference design and the report on the alternative design must be completed in the form of specification sheets. To this end templates will be provided via CANVAS.


  • Part A will be concluded with a written exam . The grade of the written exam will contribute by 70% to the final grade.To pass the course as a whole, the minimum grade for the written exam is 5.0.

  • Part B will be concluded by an individual report on the individual plant design. The grade of the report on the alternative design of the CHP plant will contribute by 30% to the final grade.

  • The written exam is a closed-book exam ; aids other than standard calculators are not allowed.[1] Additional material (e.g. property tables) will be enclosed with the exam if necessary. Moreover, relevant formulas and/or diagrams will be provided directly with the exam problems. Refer to past exams for examples.

IMPORTANT : Rules regarding examination and (final) grading:

  • Written exams can be taken twice per academic year: first attempt at the end of the quartile of the course; second attempt at the end of the subsequent quartile. However, grades for the written exam are non-transferable. Hence, failing the course as a whole means that the written exam, regardless of the score, has to be retaken in any event.
  • Design reports can be handed in only once per academic year (i.e. at the end of the quartile of the project) and the grade remains valid for that whole year. Moreover, the grade for the project is transferable to the next academic year. Hence, failing the course only due to failing the written exam means only this exam has to be retaken either in the current or in the next academic year.

[1] Standard calculator: devices with only basic functionalities. This excludes (graphing) calculators with e.g. plotting, equation-solving, programming and/or file-storage capabilities.

For Student Mobility Alliance students: the requested prior knowledge is thermodynamics and Heat&Flow. The course can mostly be taken online using Students may need to come over to TU/e for 1 or 2 lectures that are not streamed. For the handwritten exam the students need to come to TU/e.

Learning outcomes

  • To gain insight into common sources of sustainable energy and their underlying physical phenomena and principles
  • To gain insight into concepts for utilization of sustainable energy sources
  • To gain insight into methods for energy conversion
  • To gain insight into methods for energy storage
  • To acquire skills for modelling, analyzing and designing (sustainable) energy systems
  • To develop and design energy systems by teamwork

Required prior knowledge

You must meet the following requirements

Link to more information

If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of TU Eindhoven.


  • Start date

    11 November 2024

    • Ends
      19 January 2025
    • Term *
      Block GS2
    • Location
    • Instruction language
    • Register between
      15 Jun, 00:00 - 13 Oct 2024
These offerings are valid for students of Utrecht University