The programme is of four years duration. The first year provides students with an appropriate academic foundation in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, and electronics/electrical science, in addition to introductory energy and sustainable development.
From 2nd year onwards students have a choice of specializing in one of four key areas (streams): namely Energy Markets, Power(Energy Control), Energy Management and Energy Science. In all four streams students will, in the 2nd year and 3rd years take additional modules in physics, chemistry, and electronics/electrical science, together with subjects such as Earth Science, and Energy and the Environment that build on the foundation year to provide a thorough understanding of energy.
Energy Markets: Provisions of the Kyoto Protocol have underpinned a truly global expansion of environmental energy markets in which environmental commodities such as Carbon Allowances and Certified Emission Reductions can now be traded alongside financial contracts for the forward purchase and sale of biofuels and renewables such as solar, wind and ocean generated electricity, as well as weather-based contracts designed to provide a hedge against volumetric or demand uncertainty. Hence, energy markets have grown to become one of the biggest and most important 'financial markets' in today's global financial system, and like their financial counterparts, they have grown to become just as volatile. In this stream you will take courses in economics, and in the mathematics necessary to understand the operation of markets. In final year, you will take specialised science courses in alternative and traditional energies together with advanced financial and economics courses to provide a rigorous treatment of the economic rationale and financial workings of energy markets. In particular an experiential-learning based approach to trading energy and hedging energy-related financial exposures will be provided. Delivery of the stream's capstone module 'Energy Markets' will be based in the campus-based Trading Floor located in the Kemmy Business School.
Power (Energy Control): In the future, there will increasingly be a mixture of wind, solar, ocean, wave and other renewables on the supply grid and thus the technology on the generation side will become more varied and will require different system controls. Rather than a single synchronous supply network controlled and dominated by large utilities the future will mean increasing levels of independent and small scale local production. The Power stream focuses on the electrical energy systems of the future and the design and control of future distributed energy production networks. As part of your specialisation you will also go on to develop the technical skills required to work in the design and operation of the multi source generation systems with mixes of wind, wave, solar, biofuel, and conventional production. This will include the study of topics such as sensors & actuators, control systems, electrical energy generation and distribution, electrical power systems, power electronics, wind, wave and hydro production among others.
Energy Management: To create the type of transformational change required to truly become sustainable, there needs to be a complete re-invention of our concept of energy management. This will enable industrial organisations to improve their operating efficiencies, organise their activities in harmony with renewable energies, guarantee their security of supply and significantly reduce their exposure to energy costs with consequent competitive advantages. Companies that cannot make this shift will be unsustainable. In developing your specialisation you will acquire the technical skills necessary to monitor and control energy consumption and look at how automation can be employed to leverage the full benefits of sustainable energy sources. This will include the study of topics such as sensors, actuators, instrumentation, control, automation, the internet, communications and smart grids. You will also study building services and the factors that determine the energy efficiency of buildings, and take courses in environmental management and project planning.
Energy Science: Central to tackling the issues around sustainability, and climate change is the need for innovation. The next generation of researchers must be capable of understanding energy to a depth and at a level appropriate to developing new ways of dealing with issues of energy generation and storage. Your specialisation is focused on the core science of energy, with a view to working in a research environment. Therefore you will study a broader range of science subjects that underpin energy, and cover certain subjects in more depth, such as Physical Chemistry which is critical to being able to develop the Fuel Cells and Energy Storage facilities of the future. You will also acquire the skills necessary to develop fuels from renewable sources, materials essential to renewable energy applications (combustion systems, fuel cells, solar cells etc.) and technologies that minimize environmental damage.
During the spring semester of the third year, a period of cooperative education (placement in industry) provides students on each stream with practical experience in a relevant work environment to complement their course work. This is organized by the University's Cooperative Education Department in collaboration with representatives from various industries, both in Ireland and abroad. Students are interviewed by the company representatives. On selection, they are offered full-time employment during the Cooperative Education period and are paid at a competitive rate.
During the final year, a project is undertaken that allows students to analyse a particular energy problem in depth. This also gives students interested in postgraduate research an opportunity to carry out an exploratory investigation of a potential research topic.