photovoltaic panels, courtesy of DOE/NREL

ECEE Department
University of Colorado
Boulder

   
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  Renewable Energy and Power Electronics

As the society moves away from the overwhelming dependence on fossil fuels towards more sustainable and environmentally friendlier alternatives, the need for Electrical Engineers ready to take on new challenges and bring innovations to present and future energy systems is expected to grow. The goals of the ECEE Department's Energy Program are to address the growing interests and technical engineering needs in renewable energy sources and efficient energy utilization.

  Undergraduate Curriculum

The Energy Program curriculum relies on and complements the EE core. Courses offered are:

Introduction to present and future electrical power systems, including renewable power sources, interface to the utility grid, and efficient utilization of power. The major topics covered are: the nation's electrical power system, photovoltaic power systems, wind power systems, hybrid and electric vehicles, energy efficiency in buildings, lighting, HVAC, computer systems.

Architectures, block diagrams, and operation of electromechanical systems. Energy system components, including renewable energy sources, controllers, power electronic circuits, inductors, transformers, rotating/linear machines (motors and generators), and mechanical loads.

High-frequency, high efficiency electronic power converters for control of energy. Topics include circuit operation, steady-state converter modeling and analysis, switch realization, discontinuous conduction mode, transformer-isolated converters, converter control systems including ac modeling of converters using averaged methods, small-signal transfer functions, and feedback loop design; design of inductors and transformers for switched-mode converters.

Hands-on design, construction and testing of a photovoltaic power system, including solar panels, battery storage, and power electronics: switched-mode power converters for peak power tracking and battery charge control, dc-dc voltage step-up converters, and dc-to-ac inverters.

Efficient electric motor/generator drives: induction and synchronous motors and generators, power electronic rectifiers and inverters, controls of drives.

Understanding device technology for renewable energy requires knowledge of aspects of thermodynamics, electronic and radiant devices, materials and nanostructures. This course provides a foundation in statistical thermodynamics, and uses it to analyze the operation and efficiency limits of devices for photovoltaics, energy storage (batteries & ultra-capacitors), chemical conversion (fuel cells & engines), solid state lighting, heat pumps, cooling, and even the harvesting zero-point energy from the vacuum.

  Other recommended courses

Relevant recommended supporting ECEE courses include:

  Graduate Curriculum

The ECEE Department hosts the Colorado Power Electronics Center (CoPEC), one of the leading research programs in power electronics and mixed-signal integrated circuit design for applications involving management or intelligent control of energy. Numerous research projects are supported by CoPEC industrial sponsors and agencies such as NSF, DARPA, DOE, DOEd. Courses offered include:

High-frequency, high efficiency pulse-width modulated switched-mode dc-dc converters: circuit operation, steady-state converter modeling and analysis, switch realization, discontinuous conduction mode, transformer-isolated converters, converter control systems including ac modeling of converters using averaged methods, small-signal transfer functions, and feedback loop design; design of inductors and transformers for switched-mode converters.

  Faculty