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Sustainability: Energy Transition

How does energy help us secure a sustainable future? Delve into energy systems to discover the path to sustainable solutions.

1,435 enrolled on this course

Windmills looking over the water

Explore sustainable energy with the experts at the University of Canterbury

To tackle the climate crisis, it’s important for us all to understand the complex problems we face and the significant transformational changes required.

On this three-week course, you’ll identify how energy plays a substantial role in our ability to secure a sustainable future.

Guided by the experts at the University of Canterbury (UC) College of Engineering (COE), this course will help you explore the relationship between energy and emissions, and the effects of climate change on the environment and our future.

Understand the complexity of our current energy systems

You’ll explore why our present energy systems are unsuitable as you identify the changes needed to work towards a sustainable future.

You’ll learn about the complexities of these systems and the need to take into account different parameters, including economic viability, so you understand the many factors to consider in energy transition.

Explore the limitations of renewable energy

With an understanding of our current energy systems, you’ll examine the limitations of renewable energy to help you explore solutions to tackle the challenges we face.

You’ll also explore the principle of energy transition and the concept of Energy Return on Energy Invested (ERoEI) for a deeper understanding of energy systems.

By the end of this course, you’ll have the knowledge to recognise the limitations of our current energy systems and identify the path to energy transition and sustainability.


  • Week 1

    Introduction: the Unsustainability of Continued Growth

    • Welcome to the Course

      You will be introduced to your new course, your course educator and your fellow learners.

    • Course Information

      You will learn about the big question, the week-by-week structure and the assessment in your course.

    • Introducing Energy Transition

      In this activity we are going to learn about energy transition and the narratives around economic growth and sustainability.

    • Building a Positive Future

      In this activity, you will learn why continued growth cannot be sustained.

    • Wrap-up of Week 1

      You will find a Quiz in this activity and an opportunity to reflect about what you've learnt in Week 1.

  • Week 2

    Energy, Emissions and Oil Supply

    • Introducing Climate Change

      In this activity, we are going to explore the concept of climate change and the actions taken to mitigate climate change.

    • Global emissions and fossil fuels

      In this activity, we are going to explore essential activities in your region and their dependence on fossil fuels.

    • Oil Supply – the Unsustainability of Oil Supply

      In this activity we are going to focus in on oil and look at all the complexities and risks related to oil supply.

    • Wrap-Up of Week 2

      You will find a Quiz in this activity and an opportunity to reflect on what you've learnt in Week 2.

  • Week 3

    Renewable Energy Constraints and using EROI to compare energy systems

    • Introduction to Renewable Energy

      In this activity we are going to think about the feasibility of what the media is telling us about the future.

    • Renewable Energy Limitations

      In this activity we are going to take a brief look at some of the challenges of transitioning to renewable energy.

    • Economic viability of Energy Systems

      In this activity we are going to compare different energy systems and their impact on the economy and complete a quiz to test your understanding.

    • The Journey to Sustainability

      In this activity we will begin to summarise what we have learnt about the future of energy and the way forward.

    • Your Business Case Proposal

      This activity includes the assessment for this course and gives you opportunity to communicate what you have learnt through writing a brief business case.

    • Course Wrap-Up

      This activity gives you the opportunity to reflect on what you have learnt in this course and tells you about some courses you can take to continue your learning journey.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe energy's role in our ability to secure a sustainable future.
  • Reflect on why our present energy systems are unsustainable.
  • Explore the limitations in the transition to Renewable Energy.
  • Identify the principles of an economically viable Energy Transition.

Who is the course for?

This course is suitable for anyone interested in contributing to building a sustainable future.

It will be particularly of interest if you want to learn about the role of the energy transition in securing sustainability.

Who will you learn with?

Fiona currently works with New Zealand organisations to assist and support them in their transition to a strong and sustainable future

Patricio has over 10 years of experience in industry and academia. His current area of research focuses on transport as an energy system, working on strategic planning of freight transport systems

Who developed the course?

University of Canterbury

University of Canterbury strives to deliver excellent, research-informed education, and creative and innovative research. UC prepares its graduates to care, think and be future ready.

  • Established

  • Location

    Christchurch, New Zealand
  • World ranking

    Top 270Source: QS World University Rankings 2021

What's included?

This is a premium course. These courses are designed for professionals from specific industries looking to learn with a smaller group of like-minded individuals.

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Tests to validate your learning
  • Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you're eligible
  • Download and print your Certificate of Achievement anytime

Still want to know more? Check out our FAQs

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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