Academic Catalog


Foothill College Course Outline of Record

Foothill College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Units: 5
Hours: 4 lecture, 3 laboratory per week (84 total per quarter)
Advisory: CHEM 25 or equivalent; ability to do basic engineering calculations, including use of spreadsheets.
Degree & Credit Status: Degree-Applicable Credit Course
Foothill GE: Non-GE
Transferable: CSU/UC
Grade Type: Letter Grade (Request for Pass/No Pass)
Repeatability: Not Repeatable

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students will learn about clean energy technology for energy generation, distribution, commerce, industry, buildings, and transportation, and apply a specific technology to applications in each of these energy applications
  • Students will develop a qualitative and quantitative understanding of modern energy systems, how energy technology has evolved over the last 150 years, and how it meets the needs of residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation.
  • Students will develop a quantitative understanding of the connection (correlation) between population, income, energy use, and environmental impact (IPAT). Students will apply IPAT by global/region, level of economic development, and extrapolate to 2030, and understand the imperitive for developing clean energy technology


Introduces the technical student to the field of clean energy technology, including modern energy systems and utility infrastructure, fossil fuel and renewable energy power generation, solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind technology, buildings as systems, green and LEED building, smart energy and active distribution (microgrid concept), transportation energy and advanced transportation solutions, and the future of sustainable energy systems. Overview of the energy industry, environmental and economic considerations, and key research and policy areas for clean and sustainable energy solutions. Provides students with a conceptual framework and foundation to proceed to more advanced study, as well as exploring emerging clean energy careers.

Course Objectives

Student will be able to:
A. Explain what energy is, forms of energy, and how energy can be made to do work
B. Describe modern energy systems, including fossil fuel energy generation, and how the electrical utility system works
C. Explain the environmental and sustainability issues of current energy systems
D. Compare and contrast centralized and distributed energy systems
E. Compare and contrast centralized vs. distributed power systems
F. Explain how renewable energy is integrated into traditional energy systems
G. Explain solar power photovoltaic (PV) fundamentals, solar solutions for buildings and utilities
H. Diagram a working wind turbine, and explain small scale utility wind solutions, and challenges to integrating large scale wind into the power grid
I. Explain how buildings use energy, and the role of Energy Management Systems (EMS) and Building Management Systems (BMS)
J. Describe LEED and Green building (USGBC) from an engineering and construction perspective, and create a diagram of a net-zero energy building (system)
K. Explain transportation energy and diagram advanced transportation solutions
L. Explain how alternative transportation fuels are produced and advantages
M. Explain and diagram a vehicle as a system, and an advanced vehicle design, integrating high efficiency ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) and hybrid electric drivetrain, fuel cell, or battery electric energy source
N. Distributed energy networks
O. Explain and diagram how microgrids and active distribution work, and their benefits to both local and regional electric power systems
P. Explain smart energy, Advanced Metering Initiative (AMI), and Demand Response (DR)
Q. Diagram and explain the integration of Home Area Networks (HAN), Home Energy Networks (HEN), Energy Management Systems (EMS) and Building Management Systems (BMS) with Advanced Metering Initiative (AMI) and smart energy systems
R. Explain policy issues and considerations for developing clean energy systems
S. Explain the economics of energy use and availability and future global trends

Course Content

A. Overview of modern energy systems
1. History of world energy use
2. Development of steam energy and electrical utilities
3. Fossil fuel energy (coal, petroleum, natural gas)
4. Nuclear energy (history and technology)
5. Renewable energy development
B. Environmental/sustainability issues
1. Pollution form mining and extraction
2. Air pollution from combustion
3. Green House Gas warming
4. Peak Conventional Oil production
5. Limits of fossil fuels for global energy budget
C. Overview of clean energy technology
1. Non emission sources: geothermal
2. Renewable energy: solar and wind
3. Solar thermal technology
4. Advanced biofuels
5. Nuclear energy (Generation IV)
D. How electrical utilities work
1. Traditional fossil fuels: coal and gas
2. High efficiency combined cycle (IGCC)
3. Transmission and distribution system
4. Electrical power grids and markets
5. Voltage, frequency, and power regulation
E. Centralized vs. distributed power generation (DG)
1. Early power systems (Edison Electric)
2. Hub and spoke model of transmission
3. Distributed generation: Cogeneration and Combined Heat and Power
4. Fuel cells and local gas micro turbines
5. Integration of solar (PV) and small scale wind
6. Benefits and considerations of blending DG and centralized power
F. Renewable energy vs. fossil fuels
1. Total generating capacity
2. Base load and peaking power demands
3. Integrating intermittent sources of energy
4. Cost of expanding renewables (compare wind and coal)
5. Meeting Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS)
G. Solar power fundamentals
1. Photo voltaic (PV) production from silicon and II-VI compounds
2. Module assembly into panels, integrated roofing, typical power outputs
3. Power production curves, typical sizing for homes and business
4. Concentrating solar thermal and combined heat and electricity
5. Advanced materials for wide area solar PV production
H. Solar power solutions for buildings
1. Sizing a typical system, matching power needs
2. Rooftop solar, optimally siting a building
3. Residential vs. commercial solar applications
4. Analysis of utility bills, rebates, and financing
5. Installers, electricians, and construction issues
I. Solar power solutions for utilities
1. Conventional PV panels (silicon and CIGS)
2. Concentrating solar thermal (steam and molten metal)
3. Concentrating solar and high efficiency heterojunction PV
J. Wind power fundamentals
K. Small scale wind and utility scale
1. Rural systems for water pumping
2. Small scale residential and smaller wind farms
3. Utility scale wind, wind corridors
4. Economics of wind, production tax credits (PTC)
L. How buildings use energy
1. Heating and cooling, HVAC
2. Lighting
3. Appliances
4. Typical energy use of residential and commercial
5. Energy audits, baselining and benchmarking energy use
M. LEED and energy efficiency
1. LEED building engineering and design
2. Target power use and approaches
3. Target water use and approaches
4. Commissioning and retro commissioning
5. Construction cost and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
N. Transportation energy
1. Petroleum for gasoline and diesel
2. Petroleum use by aircraft
3. Train and high speed rail
O. Advanced transportation solutions
1. High efficiency ICE (Internal Combustion Engines)
2. Advanced biofuels and low carbon fuel standard
3. Electric drive (hybrid and battery electric)
4. EV charging networks
5. MLEV and high speed rail systems
P. Alternative transportation fuels
1. Biosynthetic approaches (yeast and algae)
2. Biomethane and agrimass
3. Hydrogen production
4. CTL (Coal to Liquids)
5. Cellulosic ethanol
Q. Distributed energy networks
1. New electricity model
2. Designing a system from the bottom up
3. Integrating DG into an existing grid
4. Integrating DG with the larger power grid
5. Designing communities with DG and grid power
R. Microgrids and active distribution
1. Microgrid concept
2. Distributed energy management
3. Cogeneration (CHP) and fuel cell generation
4. Renewable generation (solar and wind)
5. Storage solutions
6. Power management/active distribution
7. Grid issues and islanding/interconnect
S. Smart energy, AMI, DR
1. Advanced Metering Initiative (AMI)
2. Demand Response (DR)
3. Phasor networks (transmission lines)
4. SCADA for distribution networks
5. Energy informatics and analytics
T. HAN, HEN, EMS and BMS for building controls
1. Home Area Networking (HAN) fundamentals (demonstration)
2. Home Energy Networking (HEN) fundamentals
3. Energy Management Systems (EMS) practical considerations (lab exercise)
4. Building Management Systems (BMS) overview
U. Policy issues and considerations
1. How utilities are regulated (CPUC)
2. State energy management (CA government)
3. State RPS goals and AB 32 (California)
4. National energy policy
5. National and international climate accords
V. Economics of energy use and availability
1. Historic energy use with wealth
2. Developed and developing economies
3. GDP and BTU global energy projections
4. Developing clean energy for developing nations
5. Developing alternative energy for developed nations

Lab Content

A. Basic Electrical measurements using a millimeter and oscilloscope - what is electricity?
1. Electrical safety
2. AC and DC measurements (o-scope)
3. Voltage measurements (batteries/plugs)
4. Resistance (measure resistors)
5. Making and reporting standard measurements (reports, units, calculations)
B. Breadboard (light bulb with battery, resistor, etc.)
1. Electrical circuit basics
2. Breadboard basics
3. Assembling small circuits
4. Making and reporting standard measurements
C. Household electrical energy voltage, current, polarity wiring a circuit to 117V
1. Residential building circuits
2. 117V socket wiring exercise
3. Testing polarity in a 117V socket
4. Rewiring the socket (inverted polarity)
D. Motors and generators, reactive energy and capacitor bank (demonstration)
1. Motor / generator demonstration
2. Building a small motor (magnets and windings)
3. Making measurements (mechanical energy, electrical energy)
4. Capacitor bank demonstration and reactive power
E. PG&E electrical networks - identify power systems equipment
1. Tour of electrical substation
2. Identifying electrical equipment on power poles
3. Identify service to commercial and residential buildings and meters
4. Building tour and electrical panel inspection
F. Building energy audit - panel installation of Fluke Power Logger
1. Installation of a power logger
2. Inspecting a power logger and down loading data
3. Group analysis of power data
4. Comparing power logger data to utility bill and smart meter
G. Green LEED building (net zero energy)
1. NASA zero net energy building tour
2. Identify building components (HVAC, lighting)
3. Identify energy inputs (solar and fuel cell)
4. Work with EMS/BMS inputs (examine data logs)
5. Compare building energy to a standard building
H. Solar panel (PV) laboratory
1. Small PV battery charger
2. Larger panel/circuit assembly (PV cart demo)
3. Tour of Foothill solar and inverter data
4. Diagram a typical (residential) solar installation (Green Home Project)
I. Batteries and fuel cells
1. Battery demonstration and measurements
2. Battery cell construction and measurements
3. Fuel cell demonstration (small scale kit)
4. Tour of Bloom Energy (SOFC Solid Oxide Fuel Cell)
J. Electric Vehicle laboratory
1. Electric vehicle kit construction
2. Electric vehicle component identification (RAV4 EV test car)
3. EV charging measurement and motor measurement (RAV4 test car on track)
4. EV charger dissection (Coulomb Technologies)
K. Bioenergy laboratory
1. Biomass calorimeter demonstration/experiment
2. Biofuel calorimeter demonstration/experiment
3. Biodiesel group synthesis lab demonstration/experiment
4. GCMS and heat calorimeter demonstration/experiment
L. Foothill College Campus as a classroom energy tour
1. Campus energy tour
2. Identify all key energy inputs and loads
3. Reconcile inverter data with smart meter data
4. Demonstration of HOMER (group exercise)
M. Field measurements and tours

Special Facilities and/or Equipment

A. Solar Photo Voltaic demonstration equipment
B. Fluke power data loggers for VAR measurements on buildings
C. Electrical power kits for home energy and efficiency measurements
D. Electric Vehicle (EV demonstration)

Method(s) of Evaluation

Written assignments, laboratory measurements and lab reports, class presentations, and small working models (prototypes), e.g., battery electric motor models.

Method(s) of Instruction

Class lectures, demonstrations, laboratories, hands on field measurements, and tour of energy facilities.

Representative Text(s) and Other Materials

Albright, Louis, Francis Vanek, and Largus Angenent. Energy Systems Engineering: Evaluation and Implementation. 3rd ed. McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, 2016. ISBN 1259585093 / 9781259585098


Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing, and Outside of Class Assignments

A. Readings from textbook and selected industry and technical papers (e.g., Scientific American Energy 3.0).

B. Writing assignments to describe a working microgrid, or strategy to meet CA state RPS goals.



Chemistry, Engineering, Physics