Energy Transition Engineering

InTIME (Interdisciplinary Transition Innovation, Management and Engineering)

 Enrol Now and attend in person or distance learning


Learning Outcomes

  • You will understand and appreciate fully the implications of the issues of climate change and resource limits.
  • You will learn and be able to use the Transition Engineering methodology
  • You will able to carry out level-one Energy Audits on both buildings and vehicle fleets, according to the standards for professional energy engineering and energy management.
  • You will understand and be able to model the energy end use in buildings and transport.
  • You will understand the current electricity and fuels supply systems and markets. 
  • You will understand and be able to carry out a Demand Side Management project.
  • You will be familiar with the wide range of technology and engineering involved in converting fuels or heat sources to electric power or energy services.
  • You will be familiar with the operating principles and state of the art for renewable energy conversion technologies, and be able to calculate the useful energy that could be produced from renewable energy resources to provide feasibility analysis and decision support for renewable energy options.
  • You will understand the state of the art for efficiency, alternative, and renewable energy technologies, and understand the technical and energy issues involved in any future development. You will be able to explain why electric cars will not be substituted for oil and why they will not be part of a smart grid to your parents using the development vector and energy flow diagrams.
  • You will understand energy return on energy investment (EROI), carrying capacity and depletion risks, and be able to discuss implications for future growth with non-engineers.
  • You will be able to assess a geothermal power generation plant and carry out a system level thermodynamic design of steam, binary and bottoming cycle power plants.


Course Coverage

Introduction: The Unsustainable Energy Systems

Complexity, Energy & Growth, Energy & Water, Energy & Policy, Energy & Economy Energy & Food, Energy & Wellbeing, Energy Risk, EROI, Wicked Problems

Transition Engineering Fundamentals, & Methodology

Long-Term Risk, Strategic Analysis, Transition Planning

Energy Economics and Policy

Conventional Economics and Financial Analysis, Cost/Benefit Analysis, LCA, IO Models  Transition Economics analysis            

Fossil Fuels 

Oil, Gas, Coal, Uranium                                                                               

Solid Fuels, Combustion, Air Pollution                                                                                       

Peak Oil and looking for Alternative Energy

Electric Utility 

Sectors, Load, Demand, Supply, Generation History and Future, Costs,                                                                       

Renewable Resources Prospecting and conversion technologies                                                                       

Geothermal Technology and the Development Process

Energy Management in Buildings                                                                   

Energy Use in Buildings, Energy Audit Methods

Energy Audit Analysis, Building Load Modelling

Heating Degree Day Calculations

Demand Side Management, Energy Economics and Risk Analysis                                                                              

Energy Expectations                                                                                         

Future Scenarios, Carbon Capture and Storage, Hydrogen, Fuel Cells, Clean Coal, Biofuels and Politics, Waves and Ocean and other Development Challenges


Urban form, Travel Demand, Travel Behaviour, Modes                                                           

Transport Futures: Electric Cars, Hybrid Cars, Hydrogen, Freight, Re-Development

Production and Products

Unsustainable materials use, energy and materials, transition of products, particularly disposable plastics.

Special -  Erskine Visitor for 2019

Guest Lecturer, Hezy Ram will lead students through the geothermal development process from exploration and development, to project execution and financial planning.

  • A comprehensive, commercially-focused understanding of the geothermal power development processes, from resource assessment through to construction and operation
  • Clear explanations of the key aspects of geothermal technology – resources, exploration, drilling and plant operations, using clear language suited to senior commercial people and non-engineers
  • The market economic and commercial aspects of geothermal energy, from both the wider economic conditions to specific project features such as EPC contracting and PPA arrangements
  • The key processes, phases and risk factors in individual geothermal projects
  • Quantifying the key learning points through interactive exercises and illustrations, including a geothermal project feasibility and an excel-based financial plan.



Transition Engineering -  reading materials will be provided that are the draft chapters of a new text on Transition Engineering.

Selected reading materials are suggested and available as e-books from the library.

It is a good idea to get some desk references for Energy Engineering. I recommend you look at investing in the Energy Handbooks by Prof. Frank Kreith for a desk reference, but you can get all the readings electronically during the class.

The New Zealand Energy Information Handbook and subscription to Energy News are ideas for those who want to be “in the know” about energy in New Zealand.



Attendance and Attention at Lectures is Required

Lectures relate directly to the course readings. Lectures will cover the course material in a different manner from 1st or 2nd pro courses where you learned about thermal and fluid science, and how to use the energy balance and 2nd law to engineer energy conversion devices. Energy engineering is the application of fundamentals and mostly it is experience. Thus, reading and attending the lectures is crucial as I will give lots of examples in lecture that have mostly pictures in the lecture notes. Energy systems is about the context and integration of different subsystems:

  • Resource – Characteristics of the energy resource, availability, environmental impacts…
  • Energy Conversion Technology – Fundamental principles and design relations
  • Regulations and Economics – Any current or pending factors for the particular technology
  • Utilization and Integration – How this energy resource fits into the energy system. 
  • Safety, Security and Sustainability – Human factors and behaviour
  • Systems Thinking – Joining up the benefits and risks, costs and opportunities
  • Transition Innovation and Engineering – The job of re-developing everything


New Climate for Energy Engineering

Electric base-load power supply for large grids is a mature engineering filed involving electrical and mechanical engineering.  Low cost, reliable resources are currently at the limits for further growth. Environmental impacts, in particular global climate damage, have already led to international agreement for 80% reduced fossil carbon emissions by 2050. Nearly all of the “low hanging fruit” have been picked.  The century of growing supply and demand of low-cost energy is past. Future development will require integrated energy management and design for constrained and contracting supply. Reducing energy use will be a common requirement during your career.

The course text and the summary hand-outs cover some of the resource and technology information.  However, the context and issues involved in engineering a useful, serviceable, and profitable energy system are much more complex.  These topics are covered through discussions in the lecture period.  So, plan to read through the material in the reader to get literate in energy engineering.  But also plan to take notes in lecture and participate in discussions.  Course Assessment


Assignment #1           Energy Transition Modelling and Collaboratory

Description:                Field Trip to Cass Field Station

Due Date:                   (A: 8-10 March)  (B: 15-17 March)

Weighting:                  10%


Assignment #2            Scenario Models

Description:                Technical results of engineering modelling to explore scenarios 

Due Date:                   25 March

Weighting:                  10%


Assignment #3           100% Renewable Energy Modelling

Description:                Technical Assessment Report

Due Date:                   5 April  by 22:00

Weighting:                  10%


Assignment #4           Geothermal Energy System Modelling

Description:                Energy System Modelling: EES Model of a Geothermal Energy Development - Feasibility, Economics, Design Investigations

Due Date:                   Tutorial Attendance and parametric pre-feasibility investigation results

Weighting:                  10%


Assignment #5           Geothermal Power Project Case Studies

Description:                Group presentations of case studies of real geothermal power projects

Due Date:                   Last Week of Class

Weighting:                  10%


Project:                       Transition Innovation Policy Advice

Description:                Research and analysis of the wicked problem of affordable quality housing in NZ – not handed in

Weighting:                  (used in answer of a question in the final exam worth 30% of the exam)


Attendance                  Students are expected to attend all lectures, tutorials and field trip


Final Exam                3 hrs

Marks:                        50%



InTIME  Course