Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems (RESS)

Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems (RESS) Policy changes, technological advances, and an increased awareness of the world's resources are creating a growing need around the globe for advanced expertise in renewable and sustainability systems. There is an urgent need to prepare professionals who can serve as leaders of the emerging "green" economy.

Penn State's RESS programs deliver world-class, interdisciplinary education to professionals in the fields of renewable energy and sustainability that empowers them to lead the transformation of our nation's economy to a renewable, sustainable basis of operation. Options are available in Sustainability Management and Policy and Solar Energy. Much of the course content for the RESS program is available here as part of our Open Educational Resources.

Commercial Solar Electric Systems

Credit: Solarvoltaic System by OhWeh is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5

Course Description

AE 868 examines the theories and design practices of solar electric systems in the context of utility and commercial-scale applications. An important goal of the course is to equip solar professionals with skills to follow the impact of hardware trends in industry on feasibility, design, and the commissioning of such systems. Students will learn how to design solar electric systems as well as the processes required for permitting, construction, and commissioning.

Advanced Energy Policy

Credit: Solar Powered Landscape by Dennis Dimick is licensed under (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Course Description

Energy policy is typically evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary. We can look to historical policies to understand how we've inherited the policies governing our energy use today. But looking backward only tells us part of the story. In the face of climate change, we need to look ahead and instead envision a more revolutionary change to our energy systems and the policies that govern them. This class takes you on that journey to energy policies past, present, and future.

Course Description

EME 812 explores the main physical principles of core solar energy conversion systems, including direct power conversion photovoltaics, concentrating photovoltaics (CPV), and thermal conversion to electricity via concentrating solar power strategies (CSP). It also covers the fundamentals of enabling technologies such as light concentration, solar tracking, power conversion cycles, power conditioning and distribution.

Solar Resource Assessment and Economics

Credit: Photovoltaic System by andreas160578 is licensed under CC0

Course Description

Are you interested in Solar Energy? Solar Resource Assessment and Economics explores the methods, economic criteria, and meteorological background for assessing the solar resource with respect to project development of solar energy conversion systems for stakeholders in a given locale. It provides students with an in-depth exploration of the physical qualities of the solar resource, estimation of the fractional contributions of irradiance to total demand, and economic assessment of the solar resource.

Energy Markets, Policy, and Regulation

Credit: Calculator by stevepb is licensed under CC0

Course Description

EME 801 provides a broad introduction to global markets for crude oil and refined petroleum products, natural gas, and electric power. A major goal of the course is to help students understand how market design, market institutions, and regulatory structures affect firm-level decision-making in the energy industries and ultimately, how these decisions affect the functioning of energy markets and the prospects for alternative technologies.

Utility Solar Thermal and Industrial Solar Processes

Credit: Photovoltaic Panels by U.S. Department of Energy is public domain

Course Description

Solar thermal energy is a vast renewable energy resource that has been harvested by human civilizations for centuries. Now as energy conversion technologies quickly develop, we look at solar thermal energy as a significant contributor to the future world's energy profile. Solar heat, when properly collected and stored, can provide cost-effective benefits to a wide array of industrial and residential applications.

Course Spotlight

From Advanced Python Programming for GIS (GEOG 489), learn advanced applications of Python for developing and customizing GIS software, designing user interfaces, solving complex geoprocessing tasks, and leveraging open source.Visit the course.

Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Tim Bralower standing on a research ship

Dr. Tim Bralower (Ph.D. 1986, Earth Sciences, University of California) is Professor of Geosciences at Penn State. He studies ancient climate change and mass extinction from the geological record. He has participated in five expeditions with the International Ocean Discovery Program and conducted field studies from Europe to the Caribbean and South America. He is a former Fulbright Scholar and a Fellow of the Geological Society of America. Bralower was Head of the Department of Geosciences for nine years. See what Dr. Bralower has to say about online education in Earth Sciences.