Alternative Energy

Learn about alternative energy systems, develop a plan for reducing energy usage, and learn how to build a self-sustaining house with a focus on alternative energy use.

Course Code: VSS102
Fee Code: S1
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Understand Your Energy Options

Learn about alternative energy sources and their uses. Learn about the basics of electricity and how to harness with lessons on:

  • generating electricity from renewable resources
  • how to store energy
  • non-electrical systems
  • energy consumption
  • energy conservation

 

ACS Student comment: 
"
[My tutor] includes some useful comments and obviously has a good store of knowledge on the subject.
Yes, [I find the course a valuable learning experience]. I am in the middle of building a solar-passive designed house in southern Victoria and although I’ve done plenty of research and reading on almost every subject relating to self-sufficiency and alternative energy, the discipline of study has meant I have re-focussed my attention on each topic. I always find out something new that can be applied to the house".
 William Elder, Australia - Alternative Energy course.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction: The Problems and the Energy Sources.
    • Scope and Nature
    • Terminology
    • Energy consumption through history
    • Climate Change
    • Energy units
    • Problems with Fossil Fuels
    • Problems with other energy sources ... hydro electricity, nuclear, wind, solar
  2. Understanding Energy
    • Terminology
    • Understanding electricity
    • Conductors and non conductors
    • Measuring electricity ...current, voltage, resistance
    • Ohm's Law
    • Circuits ... Series; parallel
    • Kirchhoffs law
    • Power
    • Power ratings
    • Magnetism
    • Electromagnetism and Solenoids
    • Electric motors
    • Inductors
    • Lenz's law
  3. Generating Electricity
    • Turbines
    • Generators
    • Fuel cells
    • Wind Power
    • Large Scale Wind System Design
    • Small Scale Wind System Design
    • Solar Energy
    • Positioning a solar cell
    • Small Scale Solar
    • Future Developments in Solar
    • Geothermal Energy
    • Dry Steam Power Plants
    • Flash Steam Power Plants
    • Binary Cycle Power Plants
    • Advantages of Geothermal
    • How Geothermal is used
    • Geothermal heat pumps
    • Hydropower
    • Tide and Current Power
    • Tide Barage
    • Tidal Turbines
    • Wave Power
    • Nuclear Energy
    • Fission Reactors
    • Fusion
    • Half Lives and Radioactivity
    • Waste to Energy
  4. Storage and Using Electricity
    • Terminology
    • Cells - simple cell, car battery, gel, AGM, Nickel etc
    • Deep Cycle Battery
    • Lithium Rechargeable Batteries
    • Calculating Battery Requirements
    • Inverters
    • Alternators and Regulators
    • Converters
    • System Types
    • EMR & electricity use
    • Recommended Exposure Limits
    • Safety with Electricity
  5. Non-Electric Systems
    • Scope and nature
    • Passive Solar
    • Fire Wood
    • Drying and storing wood
    • Comparing different wood types
    • Smoke fires
    • Creosote formation in fire flues
    • Environmental aspects of burning wood
    • Biofuels
    • Ethonol
    • Small scale Biomass
    • Passive Solar Energy
    • Solar hot water ... flat plate collectors, evacuated tubes, open or closed circuit, passive or active systems, heat pumps
    • Greenhouses
    • Night insulation
    • Solar Garden Water Features
  6. Energy Consumption
    • Reducing energy consumption
    • Pricing
    • Population growth
    • Large scale reduction of energy consumption - managing green cities, urban sprawl, peak demands, transport, etc.
  7. Energy Conservation
    • How a home owner can reduce energy consumption
    • Temperature control
    • Minimising light energy consumption
    • Minimising appliance energy consumption
    • Insulation
    • Water conservation
    • Solar house design
  8. Converting to Alternative Systems
    • Estimating Energy Needs
    • Building Efficiency
    • System Design
    • System Designers

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Describe the nature and scope of alternative energy.
  • Describe the nature and application of electricity.
  • Compare different methods of generating electricity
  • Compare different techniques for storage and use of electricity.
  • Describe the application and operation of different non electric energy systems
  • Identify ways to better manage energy consumption.
  • Describe energy conservation techniques.
  • Discuss how to convert a building’s energy supply to an alternative system.

What You Will Do

  • List different insulating materials which may be commonly found inside electrical equipment?
  • Determine a practical example to show the relevance of each of Kirchoff's Laws to a technician, in their daily work?
  • Contact a number of suppliers of alternative energy generating systems (e.g. wind, solar).
    • Find out all that you can about the types of systems they supply. Collect any relevant leaflets and brochures. If possible observe such systems in action.
  • Design a floor plan and describe the current electricity use of a home which you are familiar with (but which uses only mains power supply).
  • This might be the home of a friend, relative, or even your own home.
  • Recommend ways in which this home might reduce reliability on mains supply (either in part or full) by introducing its own electricity generation system
  • Compare the relative significance of alternative sources of energy including wind, solar, fossil fuels, hydro, etc.
  • Explain electricity, including its nature, terminology and options for applying it as an energy source
  • Explain the generation of electricity through a variety of means including: Photo voltaic cells, Wind powered generators, Petrol powered generators and Batteries.
  • Describe procedures for appropriate use of electricity, including storage and safety
  • Develop ways of reducing energy consumption, including effective temperature control.
  • Evaluate a building and recommend appropriate measures for minimising it's consumption of energy.
  • Identify the restrictions or regulations which can affect the adoption of more appropriate energy applications for a specific property.
  • Plan the conversion of a property from high energy consumption systems to an appropriate network of sustainable and lower energy consumption systems

All energy sources have problems.

The current trend for alternative energy sources is driven by a host of long-range ubiquitous problems associated with fossil fuels.
Fossil fuels have obvious environmental problems, as does nuclear energy, and even wind, solar and hydro power have some issues that need to be considered. If confined; radioactivity can be a clean and cost effective source of energy; but if something goes wrong, the costs can rapidly escalate.

Fossil Fuels
Gas, Coal Oil and Wood are easy to burn for energy; but they are not an infinite power source, and do contribute to climate change via greenhouse gasses, atmospheric sulphur dioxide (SO2) which is also known as acid rain; Smog and airborne particulates which contribute to lung diseases; nitrous oxide (N2O) which contributes to ozone formation at low altitudes; carbon monoxide (CO) and heavy metals.  Fossil fuels are not renewable, and many sources of supply are rapidly diminishing.

Hydroelectricity

Hydro power is frequently considered green due to the fact that it is renewable and relatively non-polluting, it does come with some fairly significant environmental costs. Hydroelectricity is generally the production of electricity from the movement of water; traditionally this is from the damming of a river to create a reservoir of water which via controlled release is used to drive turbines. Problems associated with damming and channelling water through a turbine include: reservoir stratification leading to a decline in the amount of dissolved water; habitat loss through dam construction; changing water levels in reservoir; sedimentation of the reservoir which can also lead to nutrient loading; erosion; dramatic changes in habitat for wildlife and fish.

Wind Energy
People do complain about wind turbines. The most common complain is that they look ugly, being very tall and dominating otherwise beautiful landscapes (particularly if grouped together).  They can also impact upon wildlife. Birds try and fly through them and are killed. They are also prone to being hit by lightning.  The energy produced by wind is not stored easily and if often generated far from population centres. Some say wind turbines are noisy; but generally this is not a significant issue for anyone more than a kilometer or two away from the turbine.

Solar Energy 
To date one of main drawbacks to common usage of solar energy is the cost involved with photovoltaic cells.  Other problems include the fact that they only work during sunlight hours, they can be affected by pollution (reduction in solar energy reaching the cell).

Learn to Choose, Implement and Operate Different Types of Energy Solutions

Many people use petrol in their car, electricity in their house and gas or wood burning for heating or cooking; because that's what is readily available,m and that is what everyone they know uses.

For some, this may change your living into something that is "greener" or more "environmentally friendly". At the same time, it can result in lower energy costs, and less dependence upon "mainstream" energy supply companies.  For others, this may open up opportunities for business or employment.

Where this Course Lead?

When you study this course, your eyes are opened to many other options, and you should begin to see how you can do things differently when it comes to energy.
Renewable and Sustainability energy technologies are changing and growing at a fast rate, therefore research and development in this area will be progressing worldwide.

With the solid foundation formed through this course, you will be set on a path whereby you can follow many different areas of renewable energy or focus on a discipline you are passionate about. 

Possible Roles that are available to you from here:

  • Energy Advisor
  • Sustainability Consultant
  • Climatology Roles
  • Renewable Energy Development Engineer
  • Towards other Engineering Fields: Hydro-electrical, Solar, Wind
  • Renewable Energy Farming (Bio-fuels)
  • Wind-farm Developer
  • Wind-farm Fabricator/Operator
  • Solar-farm Developer
  • Solar-farm Fabricator/Operator
  • Sustainable Transportation Roles
  • Energy Saving Building/Manufacturing Roles
  • Used towards further studies
  • Research Roles
  • Internship Roles


ACS Distance Education holds an Educational Membership with the ATA.

Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.

ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.


How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

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What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

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You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

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If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course has been designed to cover the fundamentals of the topic. It will take around 100 hours to complete, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and anything else that is contained in the course. Our short courses are a great way to do some professional development or to learn a new skill.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

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We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

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We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $55 (AUS) $50 (O/S) for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exam and you will be able receive your course certificate- a Statement of Attainment. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Jacinda Cole

Former operations manager for highly reputable Landscape firm, The Chelsea Gardener, before starting her own firm. Jacinda has over 20 years of industry experience in Psychology, Landscaping, Publishing, Writing and Education. Jacinda has a B.Sc., Psych.C

John Mason

Writer, Manager, Teacher and Businessman with over 40 years interenational experience covering Education, Publishing, Leisure Management, Education, and Horticulture. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner.
J





Tutors

Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Lachlan Allan

Lachlan has experience of the hospitality, banking and utilities sectors in managerial positions in the UK. Following a career change after moving to Australia, he is also experienced in the medical engineering field where he was an engineer responsible for devices at hospital sites and laboratories

Jade Sciascia

Former Business Coordinator, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Secondary School teacher (Biology); Administrator (Recruitment), Senior Supervisor (Youth Welfare). International Business Manager for IARC. Academic officer and writer with ACS for over 10 years, both in Australia and in the UK.

Yvonne Sharpe

Over 30 years of experience in horticulture, education and management, Yvonne has travelled widely within and beyond Europe, and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.

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