Sustainable Energy

ENE425 Sustainable Energy

Spring 2021

  • Topics

    During the last century, human activity has reshaped the world from an economic and environmental perspective introducing challenges for sustainability. This course deals with the relation between renewable technology development, economic activity and sustainability. The course is organized in three blocks that complement each other. The first block studies the impact of renewable technology development on energy production. The second block analyzes the impact of renewable technology development on energy demand and energy supply. The third block studies the impact of changes on energy demand and supply on economic activity. The fourth block covers the different policies that could be implemented to boost the adoption of different renewable technologies.

    Overview of the course. In the overview of the course we will frame the objective and the content of the course.

    • We illustrate the relation between renewable technology development, economic policies and energy sustainability by using the "ecological footprint" game.

    Block I. Renewable technology development. In this block of the course, we study the impact of renewable technology development on energy production. We will study the different types of renewable energy sources. We will also study the impact of technology in batteries or smart grids, since those devices play a crucial rule in the development of a sustainable energy system.

    Block II. Energy demand and energy supply. In this block of the course, we study the impact of renewable technology development on energy demand and energy supply. The technological changes introduce new possibilities to consume and to produce energy and that could have important implications in the abatement of carbon emissions.

    Block III. Greening the economy. In this block of the course, we study the impact of changes on energy demand and supply on economy. The changes on energy demand and supply could facilitate the introduction of changes in economy that boost the reduction of carbon emissions. We will also study how the changes in the economy could impulse the development of new renewable technologies, since the massive adoption of new sources of energy and new technologies could open new business opportunities to many technological companies.

    Block IV. Economic policy and regulation. In this block of the course, we study the impact of economic policy and regulation on the previous three blocks. The economic policy and the regulation operate as an umbrella that cover the other three blocks. We will study the impact of different economic policies on the implementation of new technologies, and on the development of changes on energy demand and supply.

    The course will focus mainly on blocks I and II, but to frame the content of those two blocks, we will connect them with blocks III and IV.

  • Learning outcome

    Knowledge: At the end of the course, the students will

    • know the features of renewable technologies and its implications on the development of a sustainable energy system.
    • know the policies implemented by the government to promote the development of those technologies to boost the development of a sustainable energy system.

    Skills: The students will

    • learn to find information about new renewable technologies and economic policies that promote the development of those technologies.
    • learn to use the economic tools to evaluate the impact of those technologies and policies on economic activity.

    General competence: The students will be

    • able to identify relevant problems related to the development of renewable production technologies.
    • qualified to use the most suitable economic tools to study the impact of new renewable production technologies on the development of a sustainable energy system.
    • capable to present their analysis and conclusions by using written essays and presentations.

  • Teaching

    Lectures, about 20. Group presentations and discussion.

    The teaching methodology consists on three different pillars that complement each other: Motivation (overview) , economic analysis and homework .

    Every lecture in the course begins with an motivation (overview) of the economic problem that we address in that lecture. The overview helps us to frame the problem, and to understand the relevance of that problem from an economic and from a social perspective. The overview part of the lectures is also useful to help the students find information about real economic problems by themselves. I encourage the students to work in groups to find relevant information about the problems that we address in the lectures, or economic examples that could be useful during the overview discussion in the lectures.

    After framing the economic problem, I present the economic analysis . Economic problems are polyhedral, and we have to look at those problems from different angles by using the most suitable economic techniques. The economic analysis provides an holistic view of the tools used in economy by presenting the most advance theoretical models, experiments, econometric analysis and software simulations.

    We conclude each lecture with the distribution of different types of homework . Depending on the type of problem that we are analyzing in the lectures, the homework could be theoretical, empirical or analytical. I encourage students to cooperate and work in groups while they prepare the homework.

    I like the students participate actively during the lectures. Even during the time of covid19, I will design online questionnaires, or zoom presentations to give the students the opportunity to interact with each other (virtually) during the lectures.

  • Requirements for course approval


  • Assessment

    The assignment for the course consists in two parts. The first part is an essay that accounts for 40% of the final grade.  The second part is a presentation that accounts for 60% of the final grade. Both parts will be conducted in groups (of approximately 4-5 students).

    We will decide about the topic for the essay, and the topic for presentation, after the first month of the course.  The essay needs to be delivered before the last week of our lectures. The presentations will take place during the last two weeks of the course.

  • Grading Scale


  • Computer tools

    In principle, we will not use software simulations during the course. In case that we run simulations or we conduct some econometric analysis, I will help the students with Matlab and Stata.

  • Literature

    The aim of this course is to establish a link between renewable technological development and economic analysis. Therefore, during my lectures I will use books and documents that use a technological approach and a economic approach. I will also use documentaries to frame and to motivate our discussion. I will develop a manual with the material that we will use during the course. The lectures will be based on that manual.

    NB! I provide some very preliminary and illustrative literature review. One month before the beginning of the course, I will provide a final version of the literature that we will use during the course. In that final version, I will detail which chapters of which books we will use during our lectures.

    1. Renewable technology development.

    David JC MacKay, 2009, "Sustainable Energy - without the hot air," UIT Cambridge, England.

    Stephen Peake, 2018, "Renewable Energy, Power for a Sustainable Future,"  Oxford University Press.

    2. Market Failures.

    Charles Kolstad, 2009, "Environmental Economics," Oxford University Press.

    3. The impact of climate change. Energy sustainability policies.

    Paul Hawken, 2010, "The Ecology of Commerce Revised Edition: A Declaration of Sustainability," New York: HarperCollins Publisher.

    Tim Jackson, 2009, "Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for Finite Planet," Earthscan.

    Naomi Klein, 2014, "This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate," Penguin.

    William Nordhaus, 2013, "The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World," Yale University Press.

    Jonathon Porritt, 2007, "Capitalism: As If the World Matters," Earthscan.

    Stephen Smith, 2011, "Environmental Economics: A Very Short Introduction," Oxford University Press


ECTS Credits
Teaching language

Spring. Offered Spring 2021.

Course responsible

Assistant Professor, Mario Blázquez de Paz, Department of Business and Management Science