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Renewable Energy Technology MSc/PgDip/PgCert

Full-time/Part-time

Renewable Energy Technology masthead

Cranfield is a respected provider of energy-related research and teaching, which represents about 10% of the University’s income. Students benefit from dedicated state-of-the-art facilities including unique engineering-scale facilities for the development of efficient technologies with low CO2 emissions.

Evidence is growing that production from conventional oil resources has already peaked, and that, at current usage rates, similar peaks will occur in the foreseeable future for natural gas and coal. The use of renewable resources through the development and application of renewable energy technologies is likely to play a major role in future energy supply.

Developed economies now face a number of challenges in procuring energy security and responding to energy pricing and affordability issues, as well as dealing with contributions to carbon emissions in line with the UK Government’s ambitious targets of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The MSc in Renewable Energy Technology develops professional engineers and scientists with the multidisciplinary skills and ability to analyse current and future energy engineering problems, and design and implement appropriate solutions, taking into account the social, environmental, technical, regulatory and commercial issues and constraints.



  • Course overview

    The MSc course comprises eight assessed modules, an integrated group project and an individual project. Students undertaking the Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) complete the eight modules and the group project. Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert) students complete six modules, a project and a personal development portfolio.
  • Group project

    The group project experience is highly valued by both students and prospective employers. It provides students with the opportunity to take responsibility for a consultancy-type project, working within agreed objectives, deadlines and budgets. For part-time students a dissertation usually replaces the group project.

    Register to attend our Group Project Exhibition Day at Cranfield University to be held on 2nd May 2014 when current students present their work to an audience of industry representatives, academics and their peers.

    If you are considering studying at Cranfield, this event provides an ideal opportunity for you to gain an insight into the types of applied projects you can expect to undertake. During the day you will attend a welcome talk and have an introduction to the Cranfield campus. Then you will join existing cohorts and academics for the Group Project lunch and poster display. Presentations will follow during the afternoon. There will be plenty of opportunity to network with course teams and current students during the breaks.

  • Individual project

    The individual thesis project, usually in collaboration with an external organisation, offers students the opportunity to develop their research capability, depth of understanding and ability to provide solutions to real business or industrial challenges in renewable energy technology.

  • Modules

    The MSc course comprises eight assessed modules, a group project and an individual project.

    Core

    • Principles of Sustainability
      Module LeaderDr Paul Burgess - Senior Lecturer
      Aim

      Sustainability is concerned with how society and businesses can best meet social and economic development objectives without compromising the future viability of natural and human systems. The 'Ecosystem service framework', popularised by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, provides one method by which society can categorise the different benefits we obtain from processes such as energy transfer, climate regulation, soil formation, and carbon, water and nutrient cycling. The approach also emphasises the importance of biodiversity and the complexity of ecological feedback loops. The module also examines how economics, legislation and stakeholder engagement can help society and businesses make sustainable decisions. Methods for applying sustainability principles and the ecosystem service approach are illustrated through case studies.  

      Syllabus
      • Definitions and models of sustainability, and the role of stability, resistance and resilience
      • Human well-being and ecosystem services; the development of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the UK National Ecosystem Assessment
      • Ecosystem processes and services: energy transfer; climate; geomorphology and soil formation; carbon, nutrient and oxygen cycles; water supply and quality; the link between processes and services
      • The role of biodiversity, population regulation and dampening and amplifying feedback loops; the Gaia hypothesis
      • Approaches to address complex processes such as the role of economics, legislation and stakeholder engagement.  Methods for identifying appropriate stakeholders
      • Case studies of the application of the framework in practice: renewable energy, management of wetlands, and management of montane forests in Tanzania.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Critique the concept of sustainability
      • Explain the development and use of the Ecosystem Service Approach in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
      • Explain how human well-being depends on ecosystem processes and services
      • Explain the key ecosystem processes of energy transfer, climate regulation, soil formation, and carbon, oxygen, nutrient and water cycling
      • Critique the role of biodiversity, population levels and feedback loops in ecosystem service provision
      • Explain methods for describing sustainability including stability, resistance, and resilience
      • Explain how economics, legislation and stakeholder engagement can be used to help optimise resource use and allocation
      • Explain how the ecosystem service approach can be applied in practice.
    • Environmental Valuation
      Aim

      In the search for methods that combine economic analysis and environmental assessments to achieve the goal of sustainable development, the measurement of environmental costs and benefits is an increasingly important element of the appraisal of policies and projects. This module explores economic concepts and techniques that can be used for the valuation of the environment, how these support decisions regarding the optimal allocation of resources and the design of policy interventions.

      Syllabus
      • Techniques for non-market valuation: cost and income based approaches, demand estimation methods - expressed and revealed preference, choice modelling: examples of applications
      • Multi-criteria analysis
      • Stakeholder analysis
      • Environmental accounting at sector and national levels
      • Case study examples of application.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Demonstrate an understanding and ability to apply different approaches and techniques to determining environmental value and demonstrate an understanding of the concepts of economic valuation and accounting
      • Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of methods to incorporate them into decision making techniques, especially extended cost benefit analysis, risk assessment and multi criteria analysis
      • Critically appraise the contribution of economic valuation and economic mechanisms to environmental policy
      • Demonstrate an appreciation of the purpose and methods of environmental accounting at sector and national level.
    • Renewable Energy Technologies: Fundamentals
      Module LeaderDr Stuart Wagland - Lecturer in Renewable Energy from Waste
      Aim

      An understanding of the fundamental principles of renewable energy technologies is key to understanding the technological basis of the systems and applications. The module provides the fundamentals of the main renewable energy technologies and their impact on global and national energy system. The purpose of this module is to introduce the basis for assessment of the performances of solar technologies (thermal and PV), wind, biomass and waste technologies, geothermal and hydroelectric technologies.

      Syllabus
      • Energy flows from renewable energy sources
      • Solar Energy Systems (Definition of solar radiation fundamentals and models of solar radiation)
      • Biochemical sources of energy (anaerobic digestion, landfill gas, gas cleaning and gas engines)
      • Wind energy (onshore near-shore and offshore): fundamentals of wind turbines and placement
      • Geothermal and Hydroelectric Systems (Fundamentals of the operating principles of the geothermal and hydroelectric technologies)
      • Ground-source heat pumps (Fundamentals and installations).
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this study the student should be able to:

      • Articulate the fundamental principles, terminology and key issues related to the major renewable energy technologies
      • Understand the challenges for the development and operation of the major technologies
      • Identify potential opportunities for exploitation of the main renewable energy technologies.
    • Fuels and Energy Conversion
      Aim

      A complete knowledge of the main conventional fuels and the principles of the energy conversion systems are fundamental for a better understanding of concepts related to energy. The course provides the fundamentals of thermodynamics and their application to major energy conversion systems, including hydrogen production and utilization. The purpose of this module is to introduce the basis for assessment of performance and consumption of fossil fuel and related fuels (biomass, biogas, waste, etc) involved in the generation of electricity and heat, usually through changes in thermodynamic conditions of fuels, interacting with thermo-mechanical devices.

      Syllabus
      • Definition of chemical and physical properties and characteristics of the main fuels (coal, oil, natural gas, biomass,
        waste, etc)
      • Fundamentals of thermodynamics of the major energy conversion systems
      • Principles of operation of fossil fuel and biomass systems:
        - Combustion
        - Gasification
        - Pyrolysis
      • Fundamentals of hydrogen production and fuel cells
      • Polygeneration.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this study the student should be able to:

      • Articulate the main principles, terminology and key issues related to the major energy conversion systems
      • Describe and explain the major energy conversion systems related to the use of fossil and related fuels and explain the difference between conventional and renewable fuels.
    • Evaluating Sustainability
      Module LeaderDr Gill Drew - Lecturer in Environmental Management
      Aim

      To provide specialist understanding of the frameworks and techniques available to evaluate process performance of an organisation or cohesive system in terms of sustainability.

      Syllabus
      • Sustainability performance evaluators:definitions, indicators, indicator selection and analysis assessing information against performance criteria
      • Frameworks and techniques: environmental management systems, life cycle assessment, strategic and environmental impact assessments carbon and water foot-printing.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Select and evaluate accepted frameworks to assess the performance of processes and/or systems in terms of sustainability
      • Identify and implement appropriate techniques to assess the environmental performance of an organisation or product or process
      • Critically evaluate the outcomes of environmental assessment techniques.
    • Renewable Energy Technologies: Systems
      Module LeaderDr Stuart Wagland - Lecturer in Renewable Energy from Waste
      Aim

      Building on the fundamental understanding of the renewable energy technologies, it is important to understand the in-depth operating principles, development and small/large scale systems of the main renewable energy generation technologies. The purpose of this module is to cover the state-of-the-art knowledge on the technological systems that make up the systems able to generate renewable energy. This module will cover solar energy, waste and biomass, wind and energy storage systems. This will cover the main engineering, chemical, biological and economic factors that influence the operation and uptake of these systems.

      Syllabus
      • Solar Energy Systems (low and high temperature solar thermal technologies, Photovoltaic systems and different type of collector)
      • Biomass and Waste Systems (availability of biomass and waste as a renewable sources, fundamentals of the main technologies)
      • Biochemical sources of energy (anaerobic digestion, landfill gas, gas cleaning and gas engines)
      • Wind energy (onshore near-shore and offshore): scale, energy generation and link to grid
      • Energy Storage (fundamentals of Chemical, Biological, Electrochemical, Electrical, Mechanical and Thermal Storage - link to energy generation technology)
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this study the student should be able to:

      • Discuss the in-depth process for each of the major renewable energy technologies
      • Describe, explain, and compare the main renewable energy conversion systems related to the different sources and explain the difference between conventional and renewable fuels
      • Critically assess the suitability of each technology, and how the scale of the required system would be determined.
    • Renewable Energy Technologies: Design Case Study
      Module LeaderDr Stuart Wagland - Lecturer in Renewable Energy from Waste
      Aim

      The rationale for this module is to deepen the understanding of the scientific, technological operating principles of key renewable energy technologies. The module will build on the wide examination of available renewable energy technologies provided in the “Renewable Energy Technologies: Fundamentals”, “Renewable Energy Technologies: Systems” and “Fuels and Energy Conversion Technologies” modules to allow in-depth and focussed teaching combined with design case studies to provide the opportunity for in-depth examination of the application of renewable energy technologies. The case studies will allow groups of students to examine the design of a particular renewable energy in system in the context of competing technologies and economic viability.

      Syllabus
      • Design case study
      • Energy technologies and systems
      • Scale and options appraisal.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this study the student should be able to:

      • Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the main principles, terminology and key issues related to the major renewable energy systems
      • Demonstrate the ability to utilise this understanding to identify and design a viable renewable energy system for a given application
      • Demonstrate an understanding of group working, and roles within a group, to examine a design brief and achieve the stated requirements of that brief.
    • Energy Policy, Carbon Markets and Futures
      Module LeadersDr Gill Drew - Lecturer in Environmental Management, Dr Ben Anthony - Reader in Energy Processes
      Aim

      Decreased regulation, declining transport costs, improved infrastructure and the innovation of a range of financial instruments has helped to make the energy market one of the most financially attractive commodity markets to investors. Price movements on the energy markets have important implications for economic growth and social welfare, while perceptions of dwindling energy resources and excessive CO2 emissions are making governments’ increasingly sensitive to energy security issues . In this context, this module analyses the range of policies used to achieve sustainable and secure energy supplies and the methods for assessing the performance of policy interventions. An important policy strategy is an increased reliance on market forces to deliver energy solutions and this module reviews commodity market structure, commodity exchanges and financial instruments related to energy. Linked to this is a review of the carbon market and how this is evolving over time.

      Syllabus
      • Energy policy theory and practice
      • Energy commodity market structure, carbon market structure
      • Financial markets, spot and futures markets
      • Financial instruments in energy markets
      • Price forecasting
      • Policy analysis and impact assessment.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this study the student should be able to:

      • Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of the purpose of energy policy
      • Demonstrate an understanding of the range of policy strategies and instruments 
      • Demonstrate an understanding of the structure of energy and carbon markets
      • Demonstrate an understanding of the financial instruments traded within energy and carbon markets
      • Analyse methods used to forecast energy and carbon prices
      • Critically evaluate strategies for energy security and sustainability.
  • Assessment

    Taught modules 40%, group project 20% (dissertation for part-time students), individual project 40%.

  • Start date, duration and location

    Start date: Full-time: October. Part-time: throughout the year.

    Duration: One year full-time, two-five years part-time.

    Teaching location: Cranfield

  • Overview

    Cranfield is a respected provider of energy related research and teaching, which represents about 10% of the University’s income. Students benefit from dedicated state-of-the-art facilities including unique engineering-scale facilities for the development of efficient technologies with low CO2 emissions.

  • Informed by industry

    Our courses are designed to meet the training needs of industry and have a strong input from experts in their sector. These include:

    • P A Consulting
    • Joint Research Centre, Ispra
    • Adas
    • Cresswell Associates
    • Chartered Institute of Waste Management
    • Geospatial Insight
    • Oakdene Hollins
    • Golder
    • Astrium Geo-information Services
    • Unilever
    • Landscape Science Consultancy
    • WRc PLC
    • FWAG
    • RSPB
    • ERM
    • GIGL
    • WRG
    • Environment Agency
    • Chartered Institute of Water and Environment Management
    • Enviros
    • Health Protection Agency
    • Neales Waste
    • Natural England
    • National Trust
    • Trucost
    • SLR Consulting
    • Highview Power Storage
    • Nomura Code Securities
  • Your teaching team

    You will be taught by industry-active research academics from Cranfield with an established track record, supported by visiting lecturers from industry. To ensure the programme is aligned to industry needs, the course is directed by its own Industrial Advisory Committee.

  • Facilities and resources

    Students benefit from access to dedicated state-of-the-art facilities at Cranfield including unique engineering-scale facilities for the development of efficient technologies with low CO2 emissions. These include a variety of energy conversion facilities for renewable fuels such as biomass and waste (using combustion and gasification), burner rigs and furnaces to simulate process environments in gas turbines and other systems using gas and liquid biofuels, CO2 capture and transport research facilities, anaerobic digestion, etc.

  • Entry Requirements

    Suitable for graduate scientists and engineers with an interest in developing specialist knowledge in the selection and application of low carbon renewable energy production technologies to achieve lower environmental impacts.Candidates must possess, or be expected to achieve, a 1st or 2nd class UK Honours degree in a relevant engineering or science-based discipline, or the international equivalent of these UK qualifications. Other relevant qualifications together with industrial experience may be considered.

    English language

    If you are an international student you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved a satisfactory test result in an English qualification.  The minimum standard expected from a number of accepted courses are as follows:

    IELTS - 6.5

    TOEFL - 92

    TOEIC - 800

    Pearson PTE Academic - 65

    Cambridge English: Advanced - C

    Cambridge English: Proficiency - C

    In addition to these minimum scores you are also expected to achieve a balanced score across all elements of the test.  We reserve the right to reject any test score if any one element of the test score if too low.

    We can only accept tests taken within two years of your registration date (with the exception of Cambridge English tests which have no expiry date).

    Students requiring a Tier 4 (General) visa will also need to meet the UKBA Tier 4 General Visa English language requirements.  Other restrictions from the UK Home Office may apply from time to time and we will advise applicants of these restrictions where appropriate.

  • Fees

    Home/EU student

    MSc Full-time - £6,800

    *

    The annual registration fee is quoted above. An additional fee of £1,080 per module is also payable.

    MSc Part-time - £1,070 *

    PgDip Full-time - £5,000

    PgDip Part-time - £1,070 *

    PgCert Full-time - £2,500

    PgCert Part-time - £1,070 *

    Overseas student

    MSc Full-time - £16,250

    MSc Part-time - £8,500

    PgDip Full-time - £12,000

    PgDip Part-time - £6,250

    PgCert Full-time - £6,000

    PgCert Part-time - £4,500

    Fee notes:

    • Fees are payable annually for each year of study unless otherwise indicated.
    • The fees outlined here apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2014 and 31 July 2015 and the University reserves the right to amend fees without notice.
    • All students pay the annual tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
    • Additional fees for extensions to registration may be charged.
    • Fee eligibility at the Home/EU rate is determined with reference to UK Government regulations. As a guiding principle, EU nationals (including UK) who are ordinarily resident in the EU pay Home/EU tuition fees, all other students (including those from the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) pay international fees.
  • Funding

    Funding opportunities exist, including industrial sponsorship, School bursaries and a number of general external schemes.  For the majority of part-time students sponsorship is organised by their employers. We recommend you discuss this with your company in the first instance.

  • Application process

    Online application form. UK students are normally expected to attend an interview and financial support is best discussed at that time. Overseas and EU students may be interviewed by telephone.

  • Career opportunities

    With the current worldwide focus on addressing low carbon energy production and renewable energy technologies, graduates of this course can expect to be highly sought after by employers. Successful graduates will have the skills and knowledge to be able to analyse current and future energy needs, and design and implement appropriate solutions, taking into account the social, environmental, technical, regulatory and commercial issues. Graduates can expect to go on to a wide-range of careers as professional scientists or engineers in energy production, distribution and demand management across the full breadth of industrial and public sector organisations.