Learn from pioneers and thought leaders in renewable energy.

A postgraduate qualification from Stellenbosch University will arm you with unique cross-disciplinary skills and experience to excel in your career.

Our postgraduate programmes in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies and Smart Grid Technology focus on the training of scientists, planners, economists, project developers and engineers to equip them to work in the fascinating field of renewable and sustainable energy in Africa.

Coursework masters & diploma

There are three masters and one diploma to choose from:

Course modules

1-5 February 2021

Get a broad overview of all components and technologies associated with, and connected to, the new Smart Grid. The field specific knowledge to be covered would be:

  • Renewable energy systems and characteristics
  • Grid code compliance
  • PV components and sizing
  • Storage components, e.g. batteries
  • Microgrids and power flow
  • Network dynamics and stability
  • Economics of smart grid installations
  • Communications technology and selection

1-5 March 2021

Your overview of the most significant renewable energy resources, concepts, technologies and challenges to overcome climate change and other sustainable development goals and an insight into the possible solutions to sustainable energy usage. Course participants will be able to recognise, understand and evaluate the different renewable energy resources available today and in the future. The main themes will include:

  • Basic energy concepts
  • Conversion of energy
  • Renewable energy resources
  • Hydro-energy
  • Geothermal energy
  • Tidal, wave and ocean energy
  • Wind energy
  • Solar thermal energy
  • Photovoltaic systems
  • Renewable energy scenarios
  • Case studies of renewable energy systems

*No MEng students may take Renewable Energy Systems in 2020

8-13 March 2021

Study the most significant global environmental, social and economic challenges that face humankind, and gain insights into the solutions suggested by the universal commitment to sustainable development. Course participants will be able to recognise, understand and apply the divergent interpretations of sustainable development that currently exist. The main themes will include:

  • Review of the most important environmental problems, such as climate change, waste and pollution, biodiversity destruction, and the general contradiction between resource use and carrying capacity.
  • Review of the most significant social challenges, including demographic change and expansion, pandemics, poverty, endemic violence, migration and urbanisation.
  • Review of the key global economic trends that currently determine and shape the dynamics of national and local economics.
  • Introduction to the history of, and different approaches to, the notion of sustainable development.
  • Case studies of sustainable development in practice at the policy and project levels.

12-17 April 2021

The South African white paper on renewable energy (RE) has set a target of 10 000 GWh of renewable energy (RE) by 2013. It has identified solar, wind, biofuels, small-hydro, landfill-to-gas and other renewable energy sources as development potential in South Africa.

The course participant will get to understand how the policy environment influences the financial aspects and project design of RE initiatives in South Africa. The participant will get to be familiar with a range of policy instruments, the financial structuring tools needed to attract investors, and how to use alternative financial sources, like carbon finance, outside of the commercial financial institutions to ensure financial viability of projects.

To achieve this general learning outcome, course participants will:

  • Understand the most important policy and legal mechanisms in place to facilitate the development and investment in RE.
  • Understand some of the global trends in policy, and how other countries have supported RE.
  • Have a good grasp of the barriers to RE implementation and risks.
  • Be able to use specific financial concepts and tools that can influence RE project design and financial structuring
  • Be apprised of the policy and financial realities of RE and what attracts investors.
  • Learn about carbon finance, green certificates and demand side management as sources of alternative finance.
  • Be taken through a landfill-to-gas case study to demonstrate how investment decisions are made and work.

19-24 April 2021

The course provides an insight into the supply side of the power system. The focus will be on power delivery characteristics of conventional power stations, intermittent renewable power stations and utility-scale energy storage. Economic dispatch, energy storage scheduling, load-frequency control and inter-area power flow, dynamic system stability and inertia will also be covered. An overview of applicable network codes and regulations, and introduction to power system modelling and simulation software will be discussed.

21-25 June

The global drivers of decoupling economic growth and addressing climate change have seen much emphasis placed on the development of renewable energy projects. This module enables participants to understand the parameters that influence the financial aspects and project design of renewable energy initiatives in Africa. The participant will get to be familiar with a range of instruments, the financial structuring tools needed to attract investors, and how to use alternative financial sources, like carbon finance, outside of the commercial financial institutions to ensure the financial viability of renewable energy projects. The module therefore aims to empower professionals to incorporate appropriate financing into their decision-making pertaining to renewable energy projects. This includes:

  • The basic financial metrics such as IRR, NPV and DSCR,
  • Understanding the economic justification and impact of renewable energy projects,
  • Understanding of what sustainability drivers have an effect on the renewable energy business,
  • Understanding what barriers exist to renewable energy project implementation from a financial perspective, and
  • Understanding what opportunities exist to facilitate renewable energy implementation.
  • The module is mainly aimed at sensitising participants to qualitative issues in renewable energy projects, but also enables participants to deal with quantitative measures.

21-26 June 2021

Discover the technical issues, economic feasibility and sustainability of bio-energy production in the African context. The focus of the course is in the integration of technical, economic and sustainability considerations into project development, to find practical, innovative, sustainable solutions for bio-energy production. The course will involve the development of a conceptual understanding of the conversion technologies for bio-energy and biofuels production, including biodiesel, biogas, ethanol, combustion, pyrolysis, gasification and electricity generation.

Both first and second generation technologies will be considered, with an update on the commercial status of second generation technologies. The selection of the most appropriate technology from the demand side perspective will be a central thread through the course.

Participants will perform a critical analysis of the sustainability of bio-energy production, including aspects of life cycle assessment. The course will emphasise the use of project-based group work by the participants to develop integrated, practical, innovative, sustainable opportunities for commercial implementation of bio-energy production. The course programme will include site visits to familiarise participants with different conversion technologies for bio-energy production.

12-16 July 2021

The aim of the course is to provide attendees with the understanding and tools to design grid-tied (including hybrid configurations with backup power) PV systems within the South African solar resource, technical and legislative contexts. The underlying design criteria will be to optimise the energy yield versus lifecycle costs of the PV system within the given resource, technical and legislative constraints, i.e. the optimising the financial viability of the system.

Specifically, the following topics will be covered:

  • Solar resource & irradiation data sources
  • Different solar PV technologies
  • Photo-voltaic panel: electrical characteristics, maximum power point, influence of shading & diffuse irradiation, etc.
  • Photo-voltaic array: impact of positioning & tracking, string design and DC cable sizing, etc.
  • Connection to the distribution grid: power electronics basics, earthing and circuit-breaker design, system sizing, AC cable sizing, South African regulations & standards, etc.
  • Financial viability: understanding tariffs, payback, etc.

26-30 July

This module deals with the harvesting of energy from wind and water. It addresses the availability of the resources, the types of systems and machines, their capabilities and limitations, the processes of setting up such systems, and their associated costs and environmental impacts. The main elements of the course are listed below.

Wind power: Brief history, current state of industry and industry drivers. Predominant technologies, theory of operation, electromechanical and aerodynamic principles. Fundamentals of power quality and grid integration. Wind energy facility development process and methodologies, including wind resource assessment. Feasibility factors such as energy capture calculation, environmental impact assessment, grid studies and essential economics.

2-6 August 2021

Hydro and ccean energy, also known as hydrokinetic power, can make a significant contribution to the generation of renewable electricity. In this introductory course both ocean and hydro energy will be studied, giving students a basic overview of their resources, conversion technologies, project development and implementation and the associated environmental and economic impacts.

It is possible to extract energy from the ocean’s waves, currents, tides, salinity and temperature gradients, and converts, it into electricity. In this course the different ocean energy resources will be studied as well as the conversion technologies applicable to each. In addition aspects such as resource measurement and assessment, technology readiness, environmental concerns and the economics of ocean energy projects will be addressed, with particular emphasis on the available resource along the South African coast.

Economic and environmental considerations. Hydrological resources and project feasibility. Types of turbines. Specific speed and specific power parameters. Turbine selection criteria. Hydraulic energy, hydraulic losses, pipe friction and other losses. Turbine output. Multiple turbine units. Velocity of pressure waves in pipes. Basic operational constraints. Turbine cavitation. Turbine efficiency. Present hydro installations in the world and in Africa. Cost of hydro power. Technology developments. Future scenarios.

The course provides an insight into the supply side of the power system. The focus will be on power delivery characteristics of conventional power stations, intermittent renewable power stations and utility-scale energy storage. Economic dispatch, energy storage scheduling, load-frequency control and inter-area power flow, dynamic system stability and inertia will also be covered. An overview of applicable network codes and regulations, and introduction to power system modelling and simulation software will be discussed.

6-10 September 2021

The objective of the module is to enable participants to understand the concepts and technologies used for electric Energy Storage (ES). The course highlights Lithium Ion (Li-ion) batteries as the dominant technology in new projects and addresses the complex safety, performance and life issues of this technology. The technical and financial parameters that drive the project designs of grid connected and off-grid ES will be discussed. The participant will become familiar with the major factors that determine ES selection and sizing, and be provided with various case studies to use as benchmark. The module therefore aims to provide professionals with sufficient understanding to establish the key requirements and financial benefits of ES in various grid-connected and off-grid applications.

Contents:

  • Introduction: The need for Energy Storage; Proliferation of Renewable Energy => intermittent generation; Load variability; The utility’s challenge: balancing IN and OUT in real-time; How storage can help.
  • Large scale energy storage services and benefits: Key parameters of energy storage; 15 individual benefits; stacked benefits.
  • Global storage project examples and statistics: Energy Storage Technology cost, performance and maturity; macro overview and comparison of available technologies; anatomy of a battery; top 5 storage types in more detail; examples of specific products available.
  • Energy storage sizing and selection: Use of an open-source tool; understanding storage life-cycle cost; the selection and sizing of energy storage for certain applications; large off-grid hybrid.
  • PV/storage worked example; Small-scale Energy Storage applications; The economic impact of adding Energy Storage to certain applications; The regulations and safety issues related to energy storage systems