Sustainable Energy

Learn to critically analyze modern energy technologies from engineering and socio-political perspectives, and gain the skills necessary to help the world meet rising energy demand while reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change

Sustainable Energy
This course is archived
Estimated 13 weeks
8–12 hours per week
Instructor-paced
Instructor-led on a course schedule

About this course

Skip About this course

Climate change is an urgent global challenge demanding engineering solutions and large-scale, systems-oriented coordination. In Sustainable Energy, you’ll join thousands of global learners in examining conventional and renewable energy generation technologies, studying how they are deployed throughout the world, and evaluating their roles in the future energy landscape. Technologies include solar power, wind power, storage, nuclear power, hydropower, and bioenergy.

In addition to technological components, you’ll become familiar with the economic, political, and social dimensions of energy project planning. Professionals from diverse backgrounds must work together to determine pathways to decarbonization amidst scientific uncertainty and unique geopolitical challenges. You will be presented with advanced tools and strategies to explore pathways to decarbonization in specific contexts, and to build consensus among stakeholders.

The course is instructed by Michael Golay, Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Additional experts in various technologies will offer guest lectures, including:

Dr. Patrick Brown, National Renewable Energy Lab

Dr. Diane Rigos, MIT Energy Initiative

Dr. Alex Kalmikov, Lead Data Scientist, Aetna

Dr. Francis O' Sullivan, Orsted North America

Dr. Charles Forsberg, MIT Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering

Dr. Donald Sadoway, MIT Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Dr. Dennis Whyte, MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center

Dr. Zach Hartwig, MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center

Dr. Gregory Stephanopoulos, MIT Department of Chemical Engineering

Dr. Vrushank Phadnis, MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Jessika Trancik, MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society

This is the course as taught to MIT students remotely during Fall 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Course image is the cover to Sustainable Energy, Choosing Among Options, second edition, reprinted courtesy of The MIT Press.

At a glance

  • Institution: MITx
  • Subject: Energy & Earth Sciences
  • Level: Advanced
  • Prerequisites:
    • Strong English skills recommended
    • Ability to perform mathematical operations, study of calculus is helpful
    • College-level study of physics, engineering, and/or environmental science is helpful
  • Language: English

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • How to critically evaluate key features, opportunities, and challenges associated with modern energy technologies, and understand how these factors shape their contributions to global decarbonization
  • Use systems-level tools and skills to analyze the technological, economic, and socio-political dimensions of real-word energy projects
  • Build consensus among involved stakeholders to achieve sustainability goals

About the instructors

Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners from one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. edX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.