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Can renewable energy sources power the world?

Free statement of participation on completion
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Can renewable energy sources power the world?

We ask the question ‘Can renewable energy sources power the world?’ as a response to the growing awareness that increased use of renewable energy technologies is making a major contribution to global efforts to limit anthropogenic climate change.

The course begins by examining the environmental concerns that have caused a rise in interest in renewable energy, introducing the main sources and technologies, and describing global efforts to increase the share of renewables.

The course then looks at each of the principal renewable energy technologies and the contributions they might make to global energy demand.

Finally, several future energy scenarios are analysed to show how combinations of renewable energy sources and technologies could provide a major share of global energy needs.


This OpenLearn science course is produced with the kind support of Dangoor Education6, the educational arm of The Exilarch's Foundation.

Enrolling on the course will give you the opportunity to earn an Open University digital badge. Badges are not accredited by The Open University but they’re a great way to demonstrate your interest in the subject and commitment to your career, and to provide evidence of continuing professional development.

Once you are signed in, you can manage your digital badges online from My OpenLearn. In addition, you can download and print your OpenLearn statement of participation – which also displays your Open University badge.

The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course before you begin, in our optional start-of-course survey . Once you complete the course we would also value your feedback and suggestions for future improvement, in our optional end-of-course survey . Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others.

This course is endorsed by the CPD Standards Office .  It can be used to provide evidence of continuing professional development but is not accredited learning. We are unable to provide formal learner verification services for participation in our open online courses, which are provided freely by The Open University as self-directed CPD.  

Anyone wishing to provide evidence of their enrolment on this course is able to do so by sharing their Activity Record on their OpenLearn Profile, which is available before completion of the course and earning of the Statement of Participation.

Can renewable energy sources power the world?

Earn this free Open University digital badge if you complete this course! The badge can be displayed, shared and downloaded as a marker of your achievement. The badge is awarded for completing the course and passing the quizzes.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand at an introductory level the basic physical principles underlying the operation of renewable energy systems
  • understand the key role of the Sun as the main source of renewable energy
  • be aware of the essential characteristics of energy demand and supply in the UK and the world
  • be aware of the principal renewable energy technologies and their main characteristics
  • be aware of some of the factors that are working to promote the deployment of renewable energies and those acting to inhibit it. 

First Published: 15/03/2018

Updated: 06/03/2020

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