Undergraduate Teaching

Engineering Tripos Part IIB, 4I7: Electricity & Environment, 2016-17

Engineering Tripos Part IIB, 4I7: Electricity & Environment, 2016-17

Not logged in. More information may be available... Login via Raven / direct.

PDF versionPDF version

Module Leader

Professor M Pollitt


Professor M Pollitt, Mr Jim Platts, Professor Richard McMahon

Timing and Structure

Lent term. Thursdays 3.00pm-5.00pm. Assessment: 100% coursework.


Students should have a basic engineering knowledge of electricity (first year undergraduate) and a familiarity with the units and notation associated with energy science and engineering. An understanding of undergraduate engineering thermodynamics is desirable if the full benefits of the course are to be achieved. Assessment will be structured so as to be accessible to students from a range of backgrounds although basic undergraduate physics or engineering proficiency is expected.


The aims of the course are to:

  • provide students with a firm foundation in modern electricity policy with an emphasis on the UK.
  • introduce students to a wide a variety of mature and emergent electricity generation and demand side technologies.
  • expose students to the local, regional and global environmental effects of energy use.
  • introduce the key considerations of energy policy and develops frameworks by which progress against policy goals may be achieved.


This module is complete by itself, but it is also designed to complement module 4M15 Sustainable Energy. 

This module is a postgraduate module of Cambridge Judge Business School. It has its origins as an elective course of the MPhil in Technology Policy and the MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development. The module is of the standard size adopted in the Engineering Department and the Judge Business School, i.e. a nominal 16 hours. The course is delivered via one two-hour lecture each week for eight weeks.

Overview - Class Introduction - Michael Pollitt

Thursday 19 January

  • History of Electrical Power and Energy Policy.
  • Fundamentals of the UK and USA Electricity System.
  • UK Energy Policy and Politics.
  • Recent UK Energy White Papers.

Environmental Effects of Fossil Fuel Use (Michael Pollitt)

Thursday 26 January

  • Air Pollution
    • Health Effects, Emissions Standards, Ambient Standards.
    • Acid Deposition, Photo-oxidants, Haze & Visibility
  • Climate Change
  • Science of Energy Related Climate Change
  • Strategies for Reducing Risk.
  • Impact of Climate Change Negotiations.

Electricity Demand (Michael Pollitt)

Thursday 2 February

  • Economics of Electricity Demand
  • Technological aspects of electricity demand
  • Social aspects of electricity demand
  • Demand side policy

Wind Energy (Jim Platts)

Thursday 9 February

  • Attributes of wind power
  • Technology and history
  • Wind resources and grid integration
  • UK and EU wind policy
  • Wind turbine manufacture

Fossil fuel generation, storage and future electricity markets (Michael Pollitt)

Thursday 16 February

  • Current status of fossil-fuel power generation.
  • Economics of Carbon Capture and Storage
  • Electricity storage
  • The economics of electricity storage
  • Future electricity market design

Renewables and the Electricity System (Michael Pollitt)

Thursday 23 February


  • Renewables context
  • Potential for renewables in the UK.
  • Place of renewables in electricity system.
  • How to subsidise renewables.
  • Lessons form around the world.

Electricity Networks (Richard McMahon)

Thursday 2 March

Electricity Transmission and Distribution

  • Engineering considerations
  • Design and operation
  • History of the grid and legacy issues
  • Distributed Generation
  • High voltage DC and interconnection

Nuclear Power, Electricity Security and EU Policy (Michael Pollitt)

Thursday 9 March

  • The economics of Nuclear Power
  • Energy Security
  • EU Energy Policy
    • EU 20:20:20 by 2020 Targets
    • EU 2030 Targets
    • Roadmap 2050


Two assignments of written coursework.

  • First: Paper of 1,000 words due Monday 13 February 2017 – weighting 30%
  • Second: Paper of 2,000 words due Tuesday 25 April 2017 – weighting 70%


Please see the Booklist for Group I Courses for references for this module.

Expected Reading:

Jamasb, T., Nuttall, W. and Pollitt, M. (2006)

Future electricity technologies and systems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

N.B. Discount available for students on CUP books at CUP bookshop.

Printed book at:

HD9697.A2 J34

Engineering: DE159

Mar: 26 AC 58

UL: 220:01.c.27.63

Scrase I. and MacKerron G. (2009)

Energy for the Future: A New Agenda, Palgrave Macmillan

EBook Available from UL eResources:


Printed Book UL: 235.c.200.1428 & West Room reserve: 2009.9.1174

Recommended Reading



Grubb, M., Jamasb, T., and Pollitt, M.G. (2008)

Delivering a low-carbon electricity system. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Printed book at:

JBS: TD195.E4 G72 2008

Engineering: DE.166

Nuttall, W.J. (2005)

Nuclear renaissance:  technologies and policies for the future of nuclear power. Bristol: IOP Pub.

Printed book at:

JBS: TK9145.N87

Engineering: XA.31

UL: 429:5.c.200.5

(South Front 6)

Jamasb, T. and Pollitt, M. (2011)

The Future of Electricity Demand Cambridge: Cambridge University Press   

                                                                             Printed book at:

                                                        JBS: HD9685.G72 J35 2011

                                                                   Engineering: DE.190

                                            UL: 235.c.201.356  (South Front 6)


MacKay, D.J.C. (2009)

Sustainable energy without the hot air. Cambridge: UIT

E-book via withouthotair



Printed book at:

Engineering: DE.164


HM Government

2050 Pathways analysis

Report via DECC Publications




Please refer to Form & conduct of the examinations.


The UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC) describes the requirements that have to be met in order to become a Chartered Engineer, and gives examples of ways of doing this.

UK-SPEC is published by the Engineering Council on behalf of the UK engineering profession. The standard has been developed, and is regularly updated, by panels representing professional engineering institutions, employers and engineering educators. Of particular relevance here is the 'Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes' (AHEP) document which sets out the standard for degree accreditation.

The Output Standards Matrices indicate where each of the Output Criteria as specified in the AHEP 3rd edition document is addressed within the Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering Triposes.

Last modified: 05/09/2016 15:29