NS 335 - Renewable Energy Design and Analysis 


Teaches the skills and knowledge necessary for the design and analysis of renewable energy designs on a variety of scales; from individual appliances through single family homes to regional power plants.  On the ground measurements are coupled with computer spreadsheets and established values for analysis. Hydroelectric, wind, biomass, geothermal, biomass and solar (both thermal and electric) sources are studied.  Background content in thermodynamics and the design process inform design projects that minimize environmental impacts.  Projects this year include improvements to the existing barn PV system and other campus improvements. 

Renewable Energy System Analysis and Design Syllabus

Spring 2013


Instructor: Adrian Owens

Pre-requisites: NS205:Environmental Science


Texts: The Renewable Energy Handbook: 2009, William H. Kemp

Supplemental Readings:

            The Solar Electric Independent Home Book, 1995, Fowler Solar Electric

            Designing Your own House Your Own Way, Sam Clark

            Energy Isn’t Easy


To teach skills and knowledge necessary for analysis and design of renewable energy systems on a variety of scales.  Focused on heat and electrical production more than transportation.

  • Thoroughly understanding electrical quantities and basic wiring.
  • Quantifying parameters for existing solar, hydro-electric, wind, biomass, and geothermal technology will be taught as well as relevant thermodynamic principles.
  • Exploring newer technology and storage systems
  • Following an iterative design process:
                Stating design parameters
                Drafting clear diagrams
                Calculations clearly shown
                Review by peer, instructor, client.
                Prototype testing
                Revised written proposal
  • Minimizing environmental impact



Design projects will be informed by direct instruction, readings, “library” research, field trips to local facilities, and hands-on installation.  Calculations using hand calculators and computer spreadsheets are a central pillar of the course.  This year group projects are refurbishing the PV/Wind Electric system at the Sterling Barn, lighting and thermal design of the Sterling Dining Hall, and a greenhouse heating system.

Individual design Projects will also be chosen by each student.



I. Design Basics

  • Design process
  • Plan drafting
  • Scale
  • Thermodynamic cycles and limits

II.  Electricity Units, Measures, Equations, Wiring

  • Volts, Amps, Watts
  • Wire sizing limits and line losses
  • Safety
  • Wiring of outlets, light fixtures, batteries, inverters, fuse boxes.

II. Solar          

  • Basics: seasonal angles and availability,
  • Passive Solar heating
  • Active and hybrid systems
  • Photovoltaics – stand alone and grid inter-tie                   

III. Biomass

  • Wood for heat
  • Co-generation
  • Bio-fuels                                                                                               

IV. Geothermal

  • Heat Pumps

VI. Wind

  • Site considerations                                                



Class Attendance and participation:                   45% (including group work sessions)

Individual design project:            1st draft            5%,

 2nd draft           10%,

  Final                20%

Group Design Projects contributions:                  20%