CEM233-Urban Energy Systems

Module Provider: School of Construction Management and Engineering, School of Built Environment
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Phil Coker

Email: p.j.coker@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

Emerging technologies, especially alternative vehicles and electricity based heating systems, have potential to bring a rapid change in demand on urban energy systems. Such changes need to be understood at district and city scales and may also be best managed at these scales. This module will consider the possible impacts of such changes and appropriate mitigation approaches, including the emergence of smarter energy grids. A particular focus is given to the rapidly changing role of energy distribution networks. Consideration of urban energy systems is used to introduce wider systems thinking approaches that offer new insights and currently have an evolving place in energy and sustainability research. Wider aspects of urban sustainability specifically related to energy use are also addressed.


To develop skills in analysing energy systems at an urban scale; as well as to introduce specific issues from the sustainability agenda that are more problematic in urban areas and closely linked with energy use.

Assessable learning outcomes:

After completing this module, students will be able to:

  • Describe the uniquely urban factors that impact on the sustainability of energy supply and the factors that limit sustainable energy generation capacity in urban systems.

  • Describe alternative approaches for conveying energy to urban users to meet a variety of needs, including heating, transport and provision of electricity for electric only services.

  • Explain the concept of smarter energy grids and recognise the differing aspects and interpretations of this concept.

  • Contrast differing definitions of sustainability and explain supporting concepts.

  • Calculate energy efficiency from a whole system perspective.

  • Describe an ecosystem approach, together with its advantages and limitations, as well as recognise how this relates to the wider range of systems approaches.

  • Apply a system visualisation method to describe alternative approaches for a specific energy supply scenario.

  • Analyse a scenario with time varying supply, heat load and electricity demand in order to indicate whole system effectiveness and the relative benefits of alternative approaches.

Additional outcomes:

After completing this module, students will possess:

  • Insight into the characteristics of typical renewable energy sources and demand sectors as well as options to improve balancing, such as energy storage.

  • Improved team working and presentation skills.

  • Knowledge of the diverse possibilities of smart energy grids and the role that smart metering systems can play in supporting these.

  • Appreciation of alternative methods for quantifying energy flows.

  • Appreciation of, and respect for, the interdisciplinary nature of energy analysis.

Outline content:

  • Urban characteristics and considerations with energy implications, including transport, water and waste systems.

  • Systems properties/ behaviours and systems thinking approaches.

  • Quantification of energy through a system, including introduction to information, exergy and emergy.

  • Energy variability and options for supply/ demand alignment including storage.

  • Developments in urban energy infrastructure, including alternative (non-electricity) energy vectors,e.g. gas, hydrogen and heat networks

  • Smart grids and smart meters.

  • Concepts in sustainability with specific urban implications, e.g. ecological footprinting, circular economy and urban greening.

Global context:

This module reflects rapid global trends of urbanisation and transition to smart, low carbon energy systems. Although a greater share of attention is given to UK examples, the international relevance & limitations of local context (e.g. space heating dependency and mature gas network) are noted and international trends / comparators covered where feasible.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Alongside lectures and seminars, tutorials introduce techniques that are then explored further in the main assignment. Group investigations within the module delivery week provide additional engagement with international examples and a greater diversity of related trends.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 6
Tutorials 6
Guided independent study 78
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 80
Oral assessment and presentation 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Formative assessment methods:

Whilst contributing to module mark, both the group presentations and the assignment have significant formative roles.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Assessment requirements for a pass:

A mark of 50% overall

Reassessment arrangements:

Students are required to contact the School to confirm reassessment arrangements.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 21 September 2018


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