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Sarawak Campus

Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Science

Higher Education Division

Tutorial 4: Sustainable Energy

CVE10006
Sustainable Design
(Semester 2, 2015)
Version date (28 September, 2015)

Student Name:

SCORE

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1. Compute in units of kg CO2e (rounded to the nearest whole number) the average greenhouse gas
emissions per Megawatt hour (MWH) of energy produced from each of the following four power plants
types. [Total 8 marks]

Use the following conversion factors:

CH4 global warming potential = 23* CO2e
N2O global warming potential = 296* CO2e

a) Coal (emissions per MWH energy produced = 1125 kg CO2, 13 kg CH4, 6.0 kg N2O) [1 mark]
Coal = 1125 + (13*23) + (6*296) = 3200 kg CO2e = 3,200 kg CO2e (2 significant figures)

b) Natural Gas (emissions per MWH energy produced = 567 kg CO2, 0.10 kg CH4, 1.7 kg N2O) [1
mark]
Natural gas = 567 + (0.1*23) + (1.7*296) = 1073 kg CO2e = 1,100 kg CO2e (2 significant
figures)

c) Oil (emissions per MWH energy produced = 836 kg CO2, 12 kg CH4, 4.0 kg N2O) [1 mark]
Oil = 836 + (12*23) + (4*296) = 2296 kg CO2e = 2,300 kg CO2e (2 significant figures)

d) Municipal solid waste (emissions per MWH energy produced = 500 kg CO2, 0.80 kg CH4, 5.4 kg
N2O) [1 mark]
MSW = 500 + (0.8*23) + (5.4*296) = 2117 kg CO2e = 2,100 kg CO2e (2 significant figures)

e) Nuclear (emissions per MWH energy produced = 130.0 kg CO2, 0.00 kg CH4, 0.00 kg N2O) [1 mark]
Nuclear = 130 + 0 + 0 = 130 kg CO2e (2 significant figures)

f) Geothermal (emissions per MWH energy produced = 45.0 kg CO2, 0.10 kg CH4, 0.060 kg N2O) [1
mark]
Geothermal = 45 + (0.1*23) + (0.06*296) = 65.06 = 65 kg CO2e (2 significant figures)

g) Which type of plant has the lowest greenhouse gas potential per MWH of energy produced? [1
mark]
Geothermal

h) If you use CO2 alone to assess a power plants pollution rating, which type of power plant would be
the least polluting? [1 mark]
Geothermal

2. [Total 7 marks]
a) Determine the minimum size (in kW) of a solar system you would need to produce 100% of the
energy consumed by an average household (an average household consumes 15 kWh per day) in
Melbourne where we typically have 3.6 hours per day (on average) of solar generating capacity
(includes losses from system inefficiencies). [1 mark]
15 kWh per day / 3.6 hours per day of generating time = 4.2 kW system (2 significant
figures)

b) How much energy (not power so needs to be in kWh) does an average Melbourne home use in one
year? [1 mark]
15 kWh/day * 365 days = 5475 kWh/yr = 5,480 kWh/yr (3 significant figures)

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c) What is the total annual energy (not power so needs to be in kWh) generated in Melbourne by a 1.5,
3.0, and 5.0 kW solar system? [3 marks]
1.5 kW * 3.6 hours * 365 days = 1971 kWh/yr = 2,000 kWh/yr (2 significant figures)
3.0 kW * 3.6 hours * 365 days = 3942 kWh/yr = 3,900 kWh/yr (2 significant figures)
5.0 kW * 3.6 hours * 365 days = 6570 kWh/yr = 6,600 kWh/yr (2 significant figures)

d) If average energy costs over the next 25 years will amount to about 70c/kWh (which accounts for an
average annual increase of 5%) what is the total financial benefit over the lifespan (25 years) of
installing a 1.5 kW system? [1 mark]
1.5 kW * 3.6 hours * 365 days * 0.70c/kWh *25 yr = \$34,492.50 = \$35,000 (2 significant
figures)

e) What is the total financial benefit over the lifespan (25 years) of installing a 5.0 kW system (using
the energy prices indicated above)? [1 mark]
5.0 kW * 3.6 hours * 365 days * 0.70c/kWh *25 yr = \$114,975 = \$110,000 (2 significant
figures)

3. Figure 1 present data tracking oil prices over the last 150 years or so. Use this figure to answer the
following questions. [Total 4 marks]

a) Between 1861 and 2004 the price of oil attained its maximum value in what time period? [1 mark]
Between 1861 and 1869

b) What types of events generally trigger large rises in the price of oil? [1 mark]
Wars or other international crises in oil producing countries

c) What types of events generally trigger large drops in the price of oil? [1 mark]
Financial crises or the discovery of new oil fields

d) In a historical context, are we in a period of high or low oil price volatility? [1 mark]
High volatility

4. A nations energy use generally shows a positive correlation with its gross domestic product indicating
that to achieve a high income per capita, a nation needs to expend a great amount of energy. This
relationship is summarised in Figure 2. Use this figure to answer the following questions. [Total 4
marks]

a) Which country has both the highest GDP per capita and the highest energy use? [1 mark]
The United States

b) How has the Australias per capita energy use and per capita GDP changed between 1980 and
2002? [1 mark]
Both energy use per capita and GDP per capita have increased

c) How has the UKs per capita energy use and per capita GDP changed between 1980 and 2002? [1
mark]
The GDP per capita has increased while the energy use has stayed roughly the same

d) Which country seems to be the most efficient at turning energy into income? [1 mark]
Ireland because it has a very high income but a lower or similar energy use to most other
countries
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5. Renewable energy still represents only a small fraction of global energy usage. This is especially true if
large scale hydropower schemes are excluded from consideration as a renewable energy source owing
to their large environmental impact. Table 1 presents data on renewable energy use around the world in
the year 2008. Use these data to answer the following questions. [Total 7 marks]

a) What % of the total electric power capacity of the world was met by all renewable sources combined
(including large hydropower) in 2008? [1 mark]
(280+860/4700)*100 = 24% (2 significant figures)

b) What % of the total electric power capacity of the world was met by all renewable sources combined
(excluding large hydropower) in 2008? [1 mark]
(280/4700)*100 = 6.0% (2 significant figures)

c) What % of the total electric power capacity of the world was met by only the lowest impact and most
sustainable forms of renewable energy (i.e., wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal) in 2008? [1 mark]
((121 + 13 + 10 + 0.5 + 0.3)/4700)*100 = 3% (1 significant figures)

d) Which country has the highest amount of installed wind power in 2008? [1 mark]
The United States

e) Which country has the highest amount of installed solar power in 2008? [1 mark]
Germany

f) Which country has the highest amount of installed geothermal power in 2008? [1 mark]
The United States

g) Which country has the highest amount of total renewable energy capacity in 2008? [1 mark]
China

6. Table 2 illustrates the remaining predicted life spans of the worlds fossil fuels (as of 2007). Use this
table to answer the following questions. [Total 4 marks]

a) Which fossil fuel is predicted to be the first to run out? [1 mark]

Oil and natural gas will both run out at about the same time but oil will go first

b) About how long will we continue to have access to this fossil fuel (from 2015)? [1 mark]
38 years or less

c) Is it likely that, in your lifetime, we will be forced to change our energy sources whether we want to
or not? Given this, does it make sense to transition to alternative energy sources before irreparable
harm is done to the Earths climate? [2 marks]
Yes
Yes

7. Figure 3 lists many of the chemicals (that we know of) that are found in hydraulic fracking fluid and the
potential health effects associated with these fluids. Use this figure to answer the following questions.
[Total 4 marks]

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a) Based on these data (and your knowledge about the value of natural gas as an energy source), and
knowing that hydraulic fracking almost always results in leakage of fracking fluids into adjacent
groundwater systems, do you think hydraulic fracking is a safe and effective means of acquiring
energy? Why or why not? [2 marks]
No
It is not safe as these chemicals are potentially very harmful to both humans and the
environment.
In addition, natural gas, as a fossil fuel, is not a viable future energy source and it also has
only a short useful life span (less than 40 years)

b) Would you support the expansion of hydraulic fracking in your home watershed if it meant a
significant increase in the number of jobs available there? Why or why not? [1 mark]
Open question

c) Would you support the expansion of hydraulic fracking in another state of Australia if it meant a
significant increase in the number of jobs available there? Why or why not? [1 mark]
Open question

8. Figure 4 illustrates the total and per capita CO2 emissions for several world countries. Use this figure to
answer the following questions. [Total 8 marks]

a) Where does Australia rank in terms of its TOTAL CO2 emissions? [1 mark]
16th highest

b) Where does Australia rank in terms of its CO2 emissions PER CAPITA? [1 mark]
7th highest

c) How do we compare to the USA in terms of per capita emissions? [1 mark]

Our emissions are almost 17% higher

d) A common argument made by Australian Liberal party as to why Australia does not need to do
much to tackle climate change is that our total global emissions are quite low. Looking at these
data, do you think this is a valid argument? How do you think other world nations would view that
argument? Do you think this attitude (in light of what the data show) gives us more or less credibility
in international negotiations on climate change treaties? [5 marks]
No
Poorly
We may not contribute a huge amount of total CO2 but we are amongst the most polluting.
This leaves us with little respect and a view that Australia are trying to get a free ride.
Much less

9. Figure 5 illustrates regional (and/or national) investment levels in clean energy and the rise in energy
production according to energy source. Use this figure to answer the following questions. [Total 6
marks]

a) How has the global investment in clean technologies changed since 2004? [1 mark]
It has gone up considerably

b) Which countries (or regions) are driving these changes? [1 mark]

China, the USA, Europe, Asia Pacific

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c) As of 2015, what is the fastest growing source of energy? [1 mark]
Renewables

d) As of 2015, what is the slowest growing source of energy? [1 mark]

Coal

e) Based on these data, do you think that Tony Abbotts 2015 assertion that coal is the energy of the
future and should be a major focus of the Australian economy makes sense? If not, what energy
sources do you think we should be investing in? [2 marks]
No
Coal is clearly on the way out and Australia needs to move on from it
Non-hydro renewables

10. Figure 6 illustrates the average CO2 intensity of consumed grid electricity (the energy we use as mains
power) and the most of this electricity for various nations around the world. Use this figure to answer the
following questions. [Total 4 marks]

a) Our government argues that the use of fossil fuels and our abundant coal reserves gives Australia
the competitive advantage of cheap energy. Based on what you can see, does Australia have
cheap energy? Does this result give you confidence that forcing down the renewable energy target
(as the Australian Liberal Party recently did) had anything to do with energy prices? [2 marks]
No
No

b) How does Australias energy price compare to that Germany, which derives a very large proportion
of its energy from renewables? [1 mark]
Our energy is cheaper but not by much

c) How does our energy cost compare to that of South Africa or India which also generate a huge
proportion of their energy from coal? [1 mark]
Our energy is considerably more expensive

11. Figure 7 provides data on jobs created by renewable and non-renewable industries. Use these data to
answer the following questions. [Total 5 marks]

a) Australians have been told that mining (and fossil fuel) are the only way to preserve our economy.
Do these data support this assertion? Why or why not? [2 marks]
No
There are many more jobs in renewable industries than fossil fuel industries

b) How do the number of jobs created by the solar and wind industries (which have been under
constant attack by the government) compare to those created by the coal industry (which receives
special protection by the government)? [1 mark]
They produce twice as many jobs

c) All else being equal, including opportunity and education, given a choice, do you think most people
would choose the life of a coal miner or the life of a renewable energy engineer? Why? [2 marks]
Renewable energy engineer
It is a job they could be proud of with fewer health risks

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12. Figure 8 provide information on biomass sources and issues associated with these different sources.
Use this figure to answer the following questions. Is biomass a green energy source? Why or why
not? [2 marks]
Some types of biomass are, others are not.
Green biomass comes from the waste and residue streams only (like landfills).
The other biomass sources actually have negative impacts on greenhouse gas emissions;
habitat and food prices and so may do more harm than good.

13. Table 3 presents some data on the causes of bird fatalities in the USA. Use these data to answer the
following questions. [Total 3 marks]

a) Wind turbines are often opposed on the grounds that they cause huge numbers of bird fatalities. Do
the data presented in Table 2 support this claim? [1 mark]
No, very few bird fatalities are caused by wind turbines

b) What are the greatest causes of bird fatalities in the USA? [1 mark]
Feral and domestic cats, power lines windows

c) If wind turbines should be banned on the grounds of causing bird fatalities, what other things should
be similarly (or more urgently) banned for causing large numbers of bird fatalities? [1 mark]
Pesticides, lighted communication towers, overhead power lines

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Figure 1. Oil prices from 1861-2014.

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Figure 2. Relationship between income and energy use. Note: the track of points for each nation from left
to right represents the years from 1980-2002.

Table 1. Renewable energy generation capacity around the globe for the year 2008.

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Table 2. Remaining lifetime for traditional fossil fuel energy sources.

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Figure 4. Total and per capita greenhouse gas emission by country.

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Figure 5. Total investment in clean energy by region and the global growth in energy by energy source.

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Figure 6. Average carbon intensity of consumed grid electricity and electricity prices by country.

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Figure 7. Jobs created from renewable and fossil fuel industries.

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Table 3. Causes of bird fatalities in the USA.

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