Unit Name

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES AND SUSTAINABILITY

Unit Code

MEE507

Unit Duration

12 weeks

Award

Graduate Diploma of Engineering (Electrical Systems) Duration: 1 year

Master of Engineering (Electrical Systems) Duration: 2 years

Year Level

One

Unit Creator/Reviewer

Trevor Blackburn

Core/Elective

Core

Pre/Co-requisites

Nil

Credit Points

3

Grad Dip total course credit points = 24 (3 credits x 8 (units))

Masters total course credit points = 48

(3 credits x 12 (units) + 12 credits (Thesis))

Mode of Delivery

On-Campus or Online

Unit Workload

10 hours per week: Lecture - 1 hour

Tutorial Lecture - 1 hours

Practical / Lab - 1 hour (where applicable)

Personal Study recommended - 7 hours (guided and unguided)

Unit Description and General Aims

Electric power systems have a major impact on the environment and this impact covers all areas of the system, from the generation of the power, the transmission and distribution and the end use of the electrical energy. The various impacts on society are extremely wide in scope and range from immediate and simple aesthetic effects, such as overhead lines, through to health problems. In addition there are the long term impacts on the environment such as those resulting from greenhouse gases, from nuclear radiation and more simply from the disposal problems of mineral insulating oil.

The scope of the unit will be wide-ranging and will cover (i) the impact of generation on the environment, including the climate and the general public, (ii) the impact of transmission and distribution on the environment and (iii) the effect of the various forms of electrical energy utilization on the environment and on health.

Generation: Greenhouse gas emission including SF6 and CH4, Sox and Nox, nuclear power generation and disposal issues, water pollution, safety hazards with PV systems, wind turbine issues

Transmission & Distribution: Line losses, Electric and magnetic fields, RF interference, AC vs. DC, negative ions, clearance requirements, substation land needs, non-mineral oil use, PCB disposal, mineral oil disposal, vegetation management, lightning protection and performance, fire ignition by overhead lines

Utilization: Industrial processes and hazards generated: steel mills, arc furnaces, Al refineries, etc.

Furthermore, this unit will consider the sustainability of the power system operation as a major factor in the operation of modern power systems, including the interaction between the three basic components of the environment, the economy and the society. While renewable energy generation is seen as a panacea to many problems of climate change and sustainability issues, it does, nevertheless, have a major impact in terms of use of resources in the manufacturing phase and thus it is of interest to perform life cycle analyses on some of the renewable methods to determine what positive or negative benefits they may develop over their operating life.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this Unit, students are expected to be able to:

  1. Analyse the operation of electrical energy systems in terms of their energy efficiency, uses of materials and their environmental impact.

    Bloom’s Level 6

  2. Analyse the electrical energy losses in the various aspects of the supply system and to understand the ways in which such losses can be reduced and minimized in practice. Line and transformer losses, lightning system evaluations.

    Bloom’s Level 6

  3. Demonstrate knowledge of the potential hazards and degradation properties of materials used in electrical energy supply, with knowledge of their disposal and safe use in electrical equipment.

    Bloom’s Level 5

  4. Understand the impact of the various fields that are associated with electrical power systems.

    Bloom’s Level 6

  5. Demonstrate knowledge of lightning and surge protection of low voltage power systems in the utilization stage and the protection of personnel and prevention of fire ignition.

    Bloom’s Level 5

  6. Analyse sustainability of power systems and methods of conserving resources so that ecological processes and the quality of life can be sustained and improved.

    Bloom’s Level 6

  7. Perform life cycle analysis of the various components of existing and renewable systems.

Bloom’s Level 6

Bloom’s Taxonomy

The cognitive domain levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy:

Bloom’s

Level

Bloom’s

Category

Description

1

Knowledge

Recall, define and list facts, concepts, methods, terminologies, theories and structures.

2

Comprehension

Demonstrate understanding by comparing, organizing, describing, translating, interpreting, paraphrasing, explaining and distinguishing.

3

Application

Use knowledge to solve problems, identify connections and show relationships, in context.

4

Analysis

Examine information, breakdown a problem, determine relationships and causes, make inferences, classify and infer from evidence.

5

Synthesis

Produce a pattern from relationships, propose operations, formulate a design,

compose a hypothesis, reassemble information, construct, plan, invent, predict and create.

6

Evaluation

Make judgements based on evidence and external criteria, determine best practice, optimise, validate ideas, judge and critique, assess, valuate and

make recommendations.

Engineers Australia

The Australian Engineering Stage 1 Competency Standards for the Professional Engineer, approved as of 2013. This table is referenced in the mapping of graduate attributes to learning outcomes and via the learning outcomes to student assessment.

Stage 1 Competencies and Elements of Competency

1.

Knowledge and Skill Base

1.1

Comprehensive, theory based understanding of the underpinning natural and physical sciences and the engineering fundamentals applicable to the engineering discipline.

1.2

Conceptual understanding of the mathematics, numerical analysis, statistics, and computer and information sciences which underpin the engineering discipline.

1.3

In-depth understanding of specialist bodies of knowledge within the engineering discipline.

1.4

Discernment of knowledge development and research directions within the engineering discipline.

1.5

Knowledge of engineering design practice and contextual factors impacting the engineering discipline.

1.6

Understanding of the scope, principles, norms, accountabilities and bounds of sustainable engineering practice in the specific discipline.

2.

Engineering Application Ability

2.1

Application of established engineering methods to complex engineering problem solving.

2.2

Fluent application of engineering techniques, tools and resources.

2.3

Application of systematic engineering synthesis and design processes.

2.4

Application of systematic approaches to the conduct and management of engineering projects.

3.

Professional and Personal Attributes

3.1

Ethical conduct and professional accountability.

3.2

Effective oral and written communication in professional and lay domains.

3.3

Creative, innovative and pro-active demeanour.

3.4

Professional use and management of information.

3.5

Orderly management of self, and professional conduct.

3.6

Effective team membership and team leadership.

Graduate Attributes

Successfully completing this Unit will contribute to the recognition of attainment of the following graduate attributes aligned to the AQF Level 9 criteria, Engineers Australia Stage 1 Competency Standards for the Professional Engineer and the Washington Accord and the Program Level Outcomes (PLO):

Graduate Attributes / Program Level Outcomes (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Professional and Personal Development)

EA Stage 1 Competencies

Learning Outcomes

A. Effective Communication (PLO 1)

A1. Cognitive and technical skills to investigate, analyse and organise information and ideas and to communicate those ideas clearly and fluently, in both written and spoken forms appropriate to the audience.

2.2, 3.2

1, 2, 3, 7

A2. Ability to professionally manage oneself, teams, information and projects and engage effectively and appropriately across a diverse range of international cultures in leadership, team and individual roles.

2.4, 3.2, 3.4,

3.5, 3.6

 

B. Critical Judgement (PLO 2)

B1. Ability to critically analyse and evaluate complex information and theoretical concepts.

1.1, 1.2, 1.3,

2.1

2, 6, 7

B2. Ability to creatively, proactively and innovatively apply theoretical concepts, knowledge and approaches with a high level of accountability, in an engineering context.

1.5, 2.1, 3.3,

3.4

3, 4, 5, 6

C. Design and Problem Solving Skills (PLO 3)

C1. Cognitive skills to synthesise, evaluate and use information from a broad range of sources to effectively identify, formulate and solve engineering problems.

1.5, 2.1, 2.3

1, 2, 7

C2. Technical and communication skills to design complex systems and solutions in line with developments in engineering professional practice.

2.2, 2.3

3, 4, 7

C3. Comprehension of the role of technology in society and identified issues in applying engineering technology ethics and impacts; economic; social; environmental and sustainability.

1.5, 1.6, 3.1

1, 6, 7

D. Science and Engineering Fundamentals (PLO 4)

D1. Breadth and depth of mathematics, science, computer technology and specialist engineering knowledge and understanding of future developments.

1.1, 1.2, 1.3,

1.4

5, 6, 7

D2. Knowledge of ethical standards in relation to professional engineering practice and research.

1.6, 3.1, 3.5

1, 6, 7

D3. Knowledge of international perspectives in engineering and ability to apply various national and International Standards.

1.5, 1.6, 2.4,

3.4

6, 7

E. Information and Research Skills (PLO 5)

E1. Application of advanced research and planning skills to engineering projects.

1.4, 2.4, 3.6

2, 4, 5

E2. Knowledge of research principles and methods in an engineering context.

1.4, 1.6

4, 5, 6

Unit Content and Learning Outcomes to Program Level Outcomes (PLO) via Bloom’s Taxonomy Level

This table details the mapping of the unit content and unit learning outcomes to the PLOs and graduate attributes at the corresponding Bloom’s Taxonomy level, specified by the number in the table.

 

Integrated Specification /

Program Learning Outcomes

PLO 1

PLO 2

PLO 3

PLO 4

PLO 5

Unit Learning Outcomes

LO1

6

-

6

6

-

LO2

6

6

6

-

6

LO3

5

5

5

-

-

LO4

-

6

6

-

6

LO5

-

5

-

5

5

LO6

-

6

6

6

6

LO7

6

6

6

6

-

Unit Study

Assessments

6

6

6

6

6

Lectures/Tutorials

6

6

6

6

6

 

Max Bloom’s level

6

6

6

6

6

Total PLO coverage

6

8

8

6

6

Student assessment

Assessment Type

(e.g. Assignment - 2000 word essay (specify topic) Examination (specify length and format))

When assessed (eg Week 5)

Weighting (% of total unit marks)

Learning Outcomes Assessed

Assessment 1

Type: Multi-choice test / Group work / Short answer questions / Role Play / Self-Assessment / Presentation

Topic examples: “An assessment of the environmental impact of thermal (coal and gas) generation and nuclear generation” “A review of the progress in the search for a replacement gas for SF6 in electrical power systems” “The safety hazards associated with the operation of large scale PV generation systems”)

Week 5

20%

1, 2

Assessment 2

Type: Report / Research / Paper / Case Study / Site Visit

/ Problem analysis / Project / Professional recommendation

Example: Report (Midterm Project)

[This will include a progress report; literature review, hypothesis, and methodology / conclusions]

Word length: 1000

Topic examples: “A review of the state of art and the potential for practical fusion generation systems” or “The impact that climate change will have on lightning strike frequency and the potential effects that this will bring” or “A full life cycle analysis of a [PV or wind turbine or nuclear or large transformer] system, with net energy balance conclusions”

Week 8

25%

4, 5, 6

Assessment 3

Type: Report (Final Project)

[If a continuation of the midterm, this should complete the report by adding sections on: methodology, implementation / evaluation, verification / validation, conclusion / challenges and recommendations / future work. If this is a new report, all headings from the midterm and the final reports must be included.]

Word length: 2000

Topic examples: Continuation of midterm.

Final Week

35%

1, 2, 3, 7

Practical Participation

Example: May be in the form of quizzes, class tests, practical assessments, remote labs, simulation software or case studies

Continuous

15%

7

Attendance / Tutorial Participation

Example: Presentation, discussion, group work, exercises, self-assessment/reflection, case study analysis, application.

Continuous

5%

1-7

Prescribed and recommended readings

Required textbook(s)

1. Cigre study committee work – Assigned by lecturer

Reference Materials

  • Union of Concerned Scientists papers: https://www.ucsusa.org/

  • IDC / EIT notes and Reference texts as advised.

  • Other material advised during the lectures

Unit Content

One topic is delivered per contact week, with the exception of part-time 24-week units, where one topic is delivered every two weeks.

Topics 1 to 3

Generation, transmission, utilization and the environment

  1. Thermal generation, renewable generation,

  2. Greenhouse gas emissions

  3. Lines and cables, power losses

  4. Interaction of lines with the environment

  5. Utilization processes and impact

  6. Use of DC grids and power electronics and their impact

Topic 4

Energy and Greenhouse emissions and targets

  1. Kyoto protocol

  2. International programs for energy reduction

  3. Current international approaches

Topics 5 and 6

Impacts: Fields and materials

  1. EMF of OH lines and cables: effects on personnel

  2. Power frequency E and B field induction effects and impacts

  3. HF interference, corona loss and IT problems

  4. Materials and disposal

  5. OH lines and vegetation: interaction effects

Topic 7

Renewable energy systems

  1. Renewable energy systems: PV and wind

  2. Their impact on the environment and on climate change

  3. Integration into existing grids

  4. Hazards associated with grid connection

Topics 8 and 9

Sustainability and Global responsibilities

  1. The sustainability triangle

  2. Economics – Environment – Society

  3. UN frameworks

  4. ISO 14001 requirements for businesses

  5. Eco-efficiency

Topics 10 and 11

Life cycle analysis procedures

  1. Material and manufacture process energy needs

  2. Operation life energy needs

  3. Replacement and disposal energy needs

Topic 12

Project and Revision

In the final week students will have an opportunity to review the contents covered so far. Opportunity will be provided for a review of student work, to clarify any outstanding issues, and to work on finalising the major assessment report.

The Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) is dedicated to ensuring our students receive a world-class education and gain skills they can immediately implement in the workplace upon graduation. Our staff members uphold our ethos of honesty and integrity, and we stand by our word because it is our bond. Our students are also expected to carry this attitude throughout their time at our institute, and into their careers.