Wind, Waves and Tides: Alternative Energy Systems

Learn how energy is extracted from three naturally occurring fluid flows: wind, waves and tides. Strengths and weaknesses of the various technologies will be discussed and illustrated through case studies of specific installations.

About the Course

The wind is a part of our everyday experience. Anyone who has lived on a coast or even vacationed there is familiar with waves and tides. That these naturally-occurring fluid flows contain energy is intuitively recognizable and indeed technologies to harvest wind and tidal energy were in use centuries ago. Our current quest for sustainable energy sources has led us to refocus once again on the potential of wind, waves and tides. This course will explain and describe the technologies to extract energy from each. The strengths and weaknesses of these various technologies will be discussed and illustrated through case studies of specific installations.

Course Syllabus

• Part A  Wind sources and influences (week 1)
• Part B  Fundamentals of wind energy technology (week 2)
• Part C  Predicting wind turbine output (week 3)
• Part D  Economic and environmental issues (week 4)
• Part E  Case studies (week 4)


• Part A.  Wave energy fundamentals (week 5)
• Part B  Wave energy converters (week 6)

Recommended Background

The course is designed as a technical elective for final year undergraduates or beginning graduate students in Mechanical or Chemical Engineering or other engineering programs that cover the prerequisite material.  Prerequisites include undergraduate level courses in thermodynamics and fluid mechanics, with some knowledge of heat transfer.

Suggested Readings


Course Format

The class will consist of approximately five lecture videos, each on the order of 15 minutes in length, per week. Some videos will include integrated quiz questions. There will also be standalone homework assignments that are not part of the video lectures and a (not optional)  final exam. Part of the course will involve grading assignments submitted by other participants (peer-assessment).


Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment upon completing this course?

Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.


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