Project-Based International Collaboration in Solar Energy Education: A Case Study from France

Project-Based International Collaboration in Solar Energy Education: A Case Study from France

Sohail Anwar (Pennsylvania State University – Altoona College, USA), Patrick Favier (IUT Bethune/Artois University, France) and Desire D. Rasolomampionona (Warsaw University of Technology, Poland)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1996-8.ch020
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Abstract

This chapter describes a project-based international collaboration in renewable energy systems design and implementation. The collaboration involves several educational institutions in Europe and USA. Working in teams, the undergraduate students at the partner institutions gain valuable experience in renewable energy systems design and construction. The participating students also learn effective teamwork and project management skills.
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Introduction

Renewable energy is becoming increasingly important as an energy source. The key forms of renewable energy include solar, wind, hydro power, biomass, biofuel, tidal waves, and geothermal (Anwar & Favier, 2011). Renewable energy serves as a replacement of depletable energy sources, such as fossil fuels, in many energy applications. The renewable energy usage areas include power generation, hot water/space heating, environmental monitoring and transport fuels. New applications of renewable energy are being constantly developed. Thus, research and development aimed at harnessing renewable energy sources is increasingly assuming an important role in the development of our society.

In France, use of renewable energy has long been focused on the generation of electricity from wind farms and solar panels. Another focus area for renewable energy usage is cogeneration, a process of simultaneous production of electricity and heat from natural gas, biomass, waste products, coal, and petroleum products. Biomass is the leading source of renewable energy used in France. In addition, hydroelectric power has been used in France on an industrial scale since the beginning of 20th century.

The French national energy policy calls for an achievement of a 50% increase in the production of heat from renewable energy, by 2015. Thus, France is actively supporting energy-related research, development, and innovation. French national energy research strategy focuses on energy efficiency, energy storage, solar energy, biofuels, and sea-based energy systems. The key objective of this strategy is to obtain greater energy efficiency from all technologies and to develop alternatives for fossil fuel based technologies. The French Agency on the Environment and Energy Management (ADEME) is supporting and coordinating research and development focusing on energy, air and soil quality, and the management of wastes and noise. The priority themes around which ADEME has established its research programs are as follows:

  • Ecologically responsible production and consumption.

  • Sustainable cities and regions.

The major research programs based on the above mentioned key priorities include:

  • Green buildings

  • Environmental assessment

  • Socioeconomic forecasting

  • Green transportation

  • Bioenergy and bioproducts

  • Generation of electricity from renewable energy resources

  • Smart grids

  • Energy storage

Following the French national energy research strategy, research is being conducted in the universities, public scientific and technological institutions, public and private industrial organizations, and public-interest foundations throughout France. In addition, many academic institutions in France are taking steps to integrate the renewable energy concepts into their curricula. One such institution is IUT Bethune of the Université d’ Artois in northern France. The IUT Bethune electrical engineering students learn the renewable energy concepts and applications through a project based international collaboration in engineering education. The subsequent sections in this chapter describe this international collaboration in renewable energy education and research. The driving factors for this collaboration are also listed. Moreover, obstacles faced in implementing this education and research collaboration are explained.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Solar Heating: Is the conversion of solar radiation into heat.

Inverter: Is an electronic device that reverses the sign of the current or voltage.

Wind Turbine: Is a rotary device from the wind.

Capstone Design Project: Is a large-scale design project meant to fulfill the last requirement for an undergraduate degree in engineering or technology.

Teamwork: Is the process of working collaboratively with a group of people to achieve a goal.

Hydroelectric Plant: Is an electricity generating facility that uses the mechanical motion of water to create power.

Energy Conversion: Is the process of changing energy from one form to another.

Photovoltaic: Panel: Is a packaged interconnected assembly of solar cells.

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