Course Syllabus

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Anholt_Havmøllepark-1.jpg Picture: Anholt Wind Farm, DK (Anonymous)

Semester & Location:

Spring 2024 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Elective Course - 3 credits

Major Disciplines: Sustainability, Environmental Studies, International Relations
Prerequisite: None
Faculty Members:

Emmanuel Gentil -current students use Canvas inbox 

Contact information

Time & Place:

Fridays 10:05-13:00, S12-02 and S12-05

Description of Course

Accelerating the Transition Towards Renewable Energy

For more than 40 years, Denmark has embarked in its renewable energy transition journey and has become a role model for the rest of the world.  Much more effort is still needed to move away from fossil fuels and have a 100 % renewable energy society by 2050. What are the drivers for this remarkable achievement? What lessons can be drawn? what are the bottlenecks for the development of renewable energy infrastructure?

The course is designed to provide a better understanding of renewable energy systems and do not require a technical background. This course is recommended for students who have an interest in sustainability, climate action, economics, environmental impacts, business, policy, planning and general problem solving. It is not an engineering course, although some basic technical components will be addressed. 

More than half of the climate crisis can be attributed to the extensive use of fossil energy. Globally, in 2019, more than 80 % of our energy consumption was still based on fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal). A profound and urgent transition is required to move our current energy systems towards more sustainable energy production, if society wants to minimize the catastrophic consequences of our changing climate, largely induced by our increasing use of energy.

This class will focus on many Danish and Northern European examples, by exploring the interdependence of electricity, heating and transport systems through concrete and innovative energy solutions (wind, solar, biofuel, electrification, etc.). Drivers and barriers for these solutions will be discussed in order to identify the critical paths towards energy transition acceleration. The mutually reinforcing roles in energy transition of policy makers, government, civil society and businesses will also be discussed in depth.

Learning Objectives of the Course 

By the end of this course you will be able to

  • To understand and explain the basics of energy systems
  • To evaluate the merits of different energy solutions
  • To identify the drivers and barriers for accelerating the renewable energy transition
  • To appreciate the importance of integrating electricity, heating and transport in renewable energy systems
  • To assess the untapped potential of energy efficiency (as a mean to reduce energy consumption)
  • To conduct a discourse analysis of the different stakeholders involved in energy politics
  • To carry out a policy analysis of energy systems


Emmanuel Gentil. Ph.D. in environmental engineering, DTU, Denmark, 2011. Independent environmental consultant. Senior Consultant at Copenhagen Resource Institute, for the European Environment Agency and for the European Commission on waste management policy in the EU. Ph.D. School Manager and Ph.D. researcher at DTU, Denmark 2006-2011. Master of business strategy and environmental management, Bradford. With DIS since 2013.


Lovins et al. (2011). Reinventing Fire : Bold Business Solutions For The New Energy Era. Chelsea Green Publishing Company. 334 pp. (Avail in the library)

Usher, B. (2019). Renewable Energy: A Primer for the Twenty-First Century. Columbia University Press. 224 pp

Jacobson, M.Z. (2020). 100% Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for Everything. Cambridge University Press. 442 pp

REN21 (2017). Renewables Global Futures Report: Great debates towards 100% renewable energy. 98 pp.

REN21 (2020). Renewables 2020 Global Status Report. 367 pp

Rubeck Andreasen, T. and Hvidtfeldt Larsen, B. (2013). Business Partnership Driving Sustainability. How To Save Energy And Increase Profit While Investing In Renewable Energy. 44 pp

The Danish Government Climate Partnerships (2020). Powering Denmark's Green Transition. Roadmap fora near carbon neutral energy sector to achieve Denmark's 70% reduction target by 2030. 110 p.

Additional reading is provided for specific lectures.


Final project

You will find the final project instructions on the Assignments section.

Field Studies

Field studies are visits or workshops lasting half a day. These field studies are an important, and mandatory part of the course in order to experience a real life situation or to interact with external experts.

  • We will climb an offshore wind turbine (weather dependent) and get to know the components and how it works in the field
  • Biogas production plant TBC


Approach to Teaching

The course is taught as a mixture of lectures and discussions. Also, guest speakers and field studies are important parts of the learning process. The course heavily emphasizes your own engagement and active participation. Much of the learning in this course is dependent on how much effort you put into your own explorations and research, not least in connection with the different types of assignments. 

AI Policy for my classes

(Adapted from Ethan Mollick)

There is an increasing probability you have been using large Language Model AI (ChatGPT or other) or that you are using  AI (ChatGPT or other) in class or outside. 
Some assignments and exercises will require the use of AI. 
Learning to use AI is an emerging skill, please check this website for  some short videos

I am happy to meet and help with these tools outside of class.

Be aware of the limits of ChatGPT or other AI tools:

  • If you provide minimum effort prompts, you will get low quality results. You will need to refine
    your prompts in order to get good outcomes. This will take work!
  • Don't trust anything it says. If it gives you a number or fact, assume it is wrong unless you either
    know the answer or can check in with another source. You will be responsible for any errors or
    omissions provided by the tool. It works best for topics you understand.
  • AI is a tool, but one that you need to acknowledge using. Please include a paragraph at the end
    of any assignment that uses AI explaining what you used the AI for and what prompts you used
    to get the results. Failure to do so is in violation of academic honesty policies.
  • Be thoughtful about when this tool is useful. Don't use it if it isn't appropriate for the case or circumstance.
  • Please make sure that you clarify whether you can use AI with your other teachers and courses 

Expectations of the Students

  • Active and voluntary participation in class discussions

  • Having prepared properly for every class, i.e. doing all the required reading and research

  • Being able to address the readings critically during class, thus displaying a good understanding of the subject matter


Article presentation
10 %
Short Essay (1-2p) 20 %
Knowledge check (Home quiz) 15 %
Final Project 45 %
Participation 10 %

*According to our DIS Universal Design policy, no graded test or exam is taking place in class

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on: 


DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -

Course Summary:

Date Details Due