[Univ of Cambridge] [Dept of Engineering]

Climate Change and Renewable Energy


This page contains links to sites of interest to those taking the Part IB Selected Topic on Renewable Energy.

Course Summary

Thu 24 May Lecture 1 - Hugh Hunt and David MacKay's website Renewable Energy without the hot air
Fri 25 April Lecture 2 - Michael Sutcliffe - Life-cycle analysis
Tue 29 April Lecture 3 - Hugh Hunt - Aero-Betz
Wed 30 April Lectures 4, 5 and 6 - Digby Symons - Wind loads
Thu 1 May
Fri 2 May
Tue 6 May Lectures 7, 8 and 9 - Michael Sutcliffe - Blade Structure and Materials
Wed 7 May
Thu 8 May
Fri 9 May Examples Class
Tue 13 May Guest Lecture 10 - Mike Wastling - Evance Wind
Wed 14 May Lecture 11 - Digby Symons Gearboxes
Thu 15 May Lecture 12 - Michael Sutcliffe - Vibration
Fri 16 May Lectures 13, 14 - Tim Flack - Power generation handout 1 handout 2
Tue 20 May
Wed 21 May Examples Class
Examples Paper 1
Examples Paper 2


Past Examination Questions that are substantially relevant to the current syllabus
  • 2013 6, 7, 8
  • 2012 6(d), 7, 8
  • 2011 6, 7,
  • 2010 6, 7, 8
  • 2009 6, 7, 8
  • 2008 6, 7, 8
  • 2007 6, 7, 8 (this was the first year of the course)

    Lecture summaries

    1. Introduction and course overview (Hugh Hunt, David MacKay)
    Introduction to the course. General overview of the issues surrounding CO2 and global warming. The Hockey-stick curve (doom-and-gloom scenarios). How can we get off our fossil fuel addiction? Thinking about plans that add up.

    2. Aerodynamic fundamentals (Hugh Hunt)
    Fundamental fluid mechanics limits to energy generating potential (Betz Limit), including the influence of size and height. Estimates of wind loading.

    3-5. Wind turbine blade design (Hugh Hunt)
    Design of Wind Turbines - Blade aerodynamics, loads and structure based on "Danish concept" HAWT. Aerofoil aerodynamics: lift, drag and angle of attack. Wind turbine blade kinematics: blade rotation, wake rotation, relative wind velocity, resolving forces. Blade element momentum theory: equating blade forces with air flow momentum change. Blade loading: aerodynamic, centrifugal, self weight & storm loading.

    6. Life cycle analysis (Claire Barlow)
    Life cycle analysis of renewable energy systems. Product life cycles: material production, manufacture & installation, use and maintenance, disposal and recycling. Estimates of embodied energy in wind turbine systems and payback period; recycling potential for end of product life. Comparison with other renewable energy systems.

    7-9. Blade structure and materials (James Talbot)
    Material selection for wind turbines
    (i) material selection for blades (stiffness, fatigue, mass, cost) - comparison of materials; effect of scale
    (ii) design and manufacture with composite materials

    10. Small wind (Mike Wastling)

    Mike will share his first-hand experience of the design and development of the 5kW Evancewind AT5-1 wind turbine. The AT5-1 is an innovative, cutting edge design with high output even at low wind speeds It is quiet, affordable, robust and durable. Iskrawind is based in Leicestershire and is the winner of 2 DTI Smart Awards.

    11-12. Mechanics of wind turbines (Hugh Hunt) Gearboxes and generators - mechanical impedance matching, speed/frequency control, optimising efficiency, noise and vibration. Response to changes in wind speed and direction, furling, coning, gyroscopic effects, power dropout during transients. High wind and overspeed protection.

    13-14 Power Generation (Tim Flack>
    Electrical Challenges faced by the electrical engineering of wind turbines with those faced by conventional fossil-fuelled generation and the available electrical technologies for overcoming the challenges. We look at their advantages and disadvantages and it will be seen why the wound rotor slip-ring induction machine together with a special scheme for enabling variable-speed operation is currently the preferred technology.

    Selected Booklist

  • 1. Sustainable Energy - without the hot air, David MacKay, http://www.withouthotair.com/
  • 2. Aerodynamics of Wind Turbines, Hansen M.O.L., 2008, TI 48
  • 3. Wind turbine design: with emphasis on Darrieus concept. Paraschivoiu I, 2002 TI.45
  • 4. Wind turbine technology: fundamental concepts of wind turbine engineering. Spera D.A. (editor), 1994, 1995 reprint DE.143
  • 5. Renewable Energy, Sorensen B., 3ed 2004, DE.95
  • 6. Renewable energy. Boyle G. (editor), 2004 DE.158
  • 7. Guidelines for Design of Wind Turbines, DNV/Risoe Publication, 2002

    Renewable Energy without the hot air David MacKay - a "must read", download the pdf for free.
    BBC video, Harnessing Off-shore wind Only 2 minutes long, a great summary.
    Noise Emissions associated with wind farming in Australia - a good document.
    Anti - Noise video 1 - "the facts"
    Pro - Noise video 2 - frank and honest stuff!
    Anti - Noise video 3 - Causeymire - comments of people living nearby
    Pro - Noise video 4 - compares wind turbines with traffic and trains
    Anti - Noise video 5 - Tooruk, South Gippsland

    A huge wind turbine 7MW, 126m diameter (not radius as stated).
    Wind-turbine failure videos:
    video 1
    video 2
    Marine turbines - pictures of some ideas for pretty massive ocean-current installations
    withouthotair.com Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air. A popular book by David MacKay
    The Independent "The real global warming swindle" refuting claims made in a Channel 4 documentary that claimed that climate change was a conspiratorial lie. But an analysis of the evidence it used shows the film was riddled with distortions and errors


    POSTNOTE Carbon Footprint of Electricity generation. A publication from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.
    The Energy Masterclass 2006 held at the Cambridge BP Institute 4-6 Dec. Some very interesting information in the online presentations.
    Iskrawind, one of the UK's leading small-wind companies.
    Danish Wind Industry Association, useful news and links.
    British Wind Energy Association , useful news and links.
    The Renewable Energy Association , useful news and links.
    The Environmental Change Institute , Oxford University.
    PowerhouseKids , information designed for schools.
    Energy Efficiency and Renweable Energy , US Department of Energy (animation)
    Some wind turbine pictures
    The sky at night - an alternative view
    Betz limit derivation
    from Wikipedia
    from Dartmouth College
    South Australian Conventional & Renewable Energy - Wind Farms - The Successful Alternative Energy Source
    Upper oceans are warming after all - New Scientist Environment, 28 April 2007
    Wind maps - from Stanford - evaluation of global wind power


    The Age of Stupid was screened at 7.30pm Friday 22 May 2009, CUED LT0. For more info (of historical interest now) click here.