University of Alberta
21st Century Energy Transition: how do we make it work?
University of Alberta

21st Century Energy Transition: how do we make it work?

Taught in English

Some content may not be translated

5,825 already enrolled


Gain insight into a topic and learn the fundamentals

Brad Hayes

Instructor: Brad Hayes


(76 reviews)

Beginner level

Recommended experience

16 hours to complete
3 weeks at 5 hours a week
Flexible schedule
Learn at your own pace

What you'll learn

  • Understand the complexity of systems supplying energy to people around the world

  • Evaluate the merits and the costs associated with each major available energy  source 

  • Explore competing viewpoints of how quickly, practically and effectively global societies can transition to alternative energy sources

Details to know

Shareable certificate

Add to your LinkedIn profile


8 quizzes

See how employees at top companies are mastering in-demand skills


Earn a career certificate

Add this credential to your LinkedIn profile, resume, or CV

Share it on social media and in your performance review


There are 6 modules in this course

Welcome to 21st Century Energy Transitions- how do we make it work? In this first module, we will introduce one of the great global challenges of our time: how do we deliver dependable global energy in a way that mitigates the effects of human-induced climate change, encourages sustainability, and meets the sometimes competing economic needs of many different countries? To begin answering this question, we will also dive into the past to discover how energy has transitioned throughout human history, and see how this might help us with energy transitions today.

What's included

2 videos1 reading1 quiz1 discussion prompt

To understand the challenges and opportunities of global energy transition, we need to be aware of the different energy sources that are used today, and those that could be more dominant in the future. From fossil fuels and established renewables like solar and wind, to more recent advances in energy sources like biomass and geothermal, in this module we'll introduce each major player in the world of energy, discuss their benefits, challenges, and see some new technology that might provide solutions to future energy issues.

What's included

13 videos1 reading3 quizzes2 discussion prompts

Now that we've covered the major energy sources, it's time to switch focus to another important part of the energy transition- energy storage. In this module we'll look at energy storage requirements and priorities, particularly in relation to electricity. We'll also examine hydrogen as a potential source of low GHG energy, discuss its positive and negative attributes, and explore some new technologies making hydrogen more available and competitive.

What's included

3 videos1 reading1 quiz

Congratulations! You've made it to the second half of the course! Now that we're comfortable with energy sources and storage technologies, it's time to ask some of the tough questions for the energy transition over the next century. How do we balance rising energy demands and increasing populations with reducing GHG emissions? How do we improve energy efficiency both as populations and individuals? What are some ways that we can keep GHG emissions as low as possible in future scenarios where fossils fuels will still be required? How do we balance rapid change with continuous energy delivery? How do we reconcile the competing energy policies of different countries? As you'll see in this module, there are very few clear answers, but the 21st century energy transition starts with asking the right questions.

What's included

4 videos1 reading1 quiz1 discussion prompt

In this module, we will explore the two most common viewpoints on the rate of energy transition: Reality 1 and Reality 2. In Reality 1, energy transition will be a measured, gradual process focused on reducing GHG emissions, driven primarily by market forces with diverse energy portfolios. In Reality 2, transition is a more urgent process because the world is facing a climate crisis. Focus is on reducing GHG emissions, with major energy reforms, including the elimination of fossil fuels now or in the near future. We will examine both points of view, discussing their requirements, challenges and implications.

What's included

3 videos1 reading1 quiz1 discussion prompt

Well done on reaching the final module of the course! In this module, we will switch the focus of our discussion from the energy sectors, to the governments and policy makers enacting legislation and guidelines to steer the energy transition. We'll have a look at some current policies, and ask whether stepping stones have been put in place to achieve realistic targets. We will also discuss the many things that we can do better in terms of communication, flexible and logical thinking, and recognizing viewpoints of various stakeholders. Finally, we'll reflect on what we've learned throughout the course and hopefully, find ourselves better equipped to answer our titular question: how do we make the 21st century energy transition work?

What's included

3 videos1 reading1 quiz1 discussion prompt


Instructor ratings
4.9 (45 ratings)
Brad Hayes
University of Alberta
1 Course5,825 learners

Offered by

Recommended if you're interested in Environmental Science and Sustainability

Why people choose Coursera for their career

Felipe M.
Learner since 2018
"To be able to take courses at my own pace and rhythm has been an amazing experience. I can learn whenever it fits my schedule and mood."
Jennifer J.
Learner since 2020
"I directly applied the concepts and skills I learned from my courses to an exciting new project at work."
Larry W.
Learner since 2021
"When I need courses on topics that my university doesn't offer, Coursera is one of the best places to go."
Chaitanya A.
"Learning isn't just about being better at your job: it's so much more than that. Coursera allows me to learn without limits."

Learner reviews

Showing 3 of 76


76 reviews

  • 5 stars


  • 4 stars


  • 3 stars


  • 2 stars


  • 1 star



Reviewed on Mar 26, 2023


Reviewed on Feb 24, 2024


Reviewed on Jun 16, 2024


Open new doors with Coursera Plus

Unlimited access to 7,000+ world-class courses, hands-on projects, and job-ready certificate programs - all included in your subscription

Advance your career with an online degree

Earn a degree from world-class universities - 100% online

Join over 3,400 global companies that choose Coursera for Business

Upskill your employees to excel in the digital economy

Frequently asked questions