‘An Introduction to our Energy System and Sustainable Energy’ with Dr. Clay Mitchell was one of my favorite classes at UNH. Clay utilized a variety of sources and in-class discussion and activities for his students to critically analyze and critique current legislation for policy within our state, and case studies across states that were innovative and enhancing renewable energy efforts. I enjoyed the class because it was my first exposure to a topic closely correlated with sustainability that offers an applicable solution to a sustainability grand challenge. The practical exposure to addressing renewable energy endeavors made me feel empowered. It is easy to feel the weight of despair when learning about sustainability issues, but this class gave me hope by seeing all the real-time efforts of advancement in technologies and implementation of renewable energy portfolio standards.
My previous sustainability classes provided the foundation for me to better comprehend the energy system, not for its technical components, but rather the socio-economic influences that have determined, hindered, and enhanced the resilience and renewable energy portfolio of our energy system. I learned about how the regulation or lack thereof of finances and policy have affected the consumer, market, energy companies, and the infrastructure of our land.
One of the topics I found particularly interesting was the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE). I was surprised how many people, including myself, have never heard of this brilliant concept. LCOE is a tool that allows there to be a financial comparison between all different types of energy production. This convenient economic measure is a way to observe the averaged costs of a power plant over the lifetime of its production. Once delving into this calculation, I was compelled to dig deeper. I was shocked to learn how many political leaders have not taken this measure into consideration while policies and projects are proposed for renewable energy, considering most renewables are the most cost effective. Saving money is usually at the top of the list for incentive for people!
The classroom environment had an electric feel of passion for problem solving in a world that is facing many issues; our consumption of energy being one of them. I was particularly enamored with this class because of its intricate analysis of how sustainability is being utilized and being sprung into action.
Below are two links: One that explains what LCOE is and the second is the organic report and analysis of the LCOE across all energy sectors.