Electricity from Coal, Gas and Nuclear. What is the Future?

Brian Sowerby
Award winning scientist
Tackle the issue of electricity generation from coal, gas & nuclear with a balanced overview of options to provide electricity in the future, minimising environmental d...
Target Audience
High school teachers of science and geography with an interest in energy generation in the 21st century.

Learning Areas

General Description

This new course will focus on just future electricity production from non-renewable resources rather than the wider subject of energy production and use. It is based closely on a section of the current 5 hr Online course ‘Sustainable Energy: An Unbiased Review of Options’.
The purpose of the course is to equip high school science and geography teachers to tackle the issue of electricity generation from coal, gas and nuclear by providing a balanced overview of the various options required to provide electricity in the future while minimising environmental damage.
The focus of the course is on providing technical details on the various technologies to provide electricity in the future and on conducting a realistic evaluation of these technologies.
The course has close links with the Australian Curriculum, namely:
o Unit 3: “Living on Earth – extracting, using and managing Earth resources” of the Senior Secondary Science/Earth and Environmental Science syllabus
o Unit 1: “Thermal, nuclear and electrical physics” of the Senior Secondary Science/Physics syllabus
o Unit 4 “The changing Earth – the cause and impact of Earth hazards” (Earth and Environmental Science)
o Year 7 Science on renewables (ACSSU116)
o Year 8 Science on science and technology finding solutions to contemporary issues (ACSHE135)
o Year 8 Science/Gifted and Talented Students on “Meeting Future Energy Needs”
o Year 6 Science: Energy from a variety of sources can be used to generate electricity (ACSSU219)
o A number of general Geography units.


High school teachers of science and geography with an interest in energy generation in the 21st century.

Available Delivery Formats

Format Description

Course Access - This course is available 24/7. Once your enrolment is complete you will be emailed with details to give you course access. You can complete the course when it suits you, and you will have ongoing access to revisit the course at any time.

My school has TTA School Membership - If your school has TTA School Membership and will be paying for your course, please enrol in the normal way. Upon submitting your enrolment confirmation, your enrolment request will be sent to your PD Coordinator for approval. Once they approve the enrolment you will be emailed with details for course access. The school will not be charged until the PD Coordinator approves the enrolment.

Did you know that courses are 50% off with TTA School Membership? - Click here to learn more about School Membership

Are you paying for this PD yourself? - If so, you might benefit from TTA Online Individual Subscription. Pay $299 + GST and access up to 20 PD hours over 12 months. Click here to learn more about Individual Subscription.

Money Back Guarantee - If you complete less than 25% of an online course and aren’t impressed, simply visit tta.edu/go/refund to let us know what happened, and we will cancel your enrolment and provide a full refund.

Teaching Standards

2.1.2 Proficient Level – Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area
2.3.2 Proficient Level – Curriculum, assessment and reporting
6.2.2 Proficient Level – Engage in professional learning and improve practice

Are you in NSW? If so, this is relevant for you


Completing this course will contribute 2 hours of NESA Registered PD addressing 2.1.2, 2.3.2 & 6.2.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.

This course contributes to 2.0 professional development hours.


  Start Date Location Availability Price    
Enrol Now Now Online Places available $99 + GST Enrol Now



30 minutes

Discuss motivations for changing our energy production and use (resource depletion, energy security, global warming); define terms; put Australia’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in perspective; review coal, gas and uranium ore reserves; introduce a new methodology in which we use a single set of personal units everyone can relate to; view videos by Bill Gates on “Energy – Innovating to Zero” and David MacKay “How Many Light Bulbs

Electricity Generation using Coal and Gas

20 minutes

Coal is currently an important part of the Australian economy. Coal is our second largest export commodity and coal provides about 85% of Australia’s electricity production. In the present course we review current and future coal technologies. Gas is becoming increasingly important fuel and its future in electricity generation will be assessed

Carbon Capture and Sequestration

20 minutes

In this session, we will attempt to determine whether coal or gas with carbon capture and storage is a viable option to meet our future energy demands.

Nuclear Power

30 minutes

Nuclear has the potential to solve our energy needs with low CO2 emissions. Current and future nuclear technologies will be discussed as well as waste disposal, weapons proliferation, safety and cost. However, after Chernobyl and Fukushima, nuclear has a serious problem with regaining public trust.

Conclusions and Resources for Teachers

20 minutes

Briefly consider possible energy plans for the future (up to 2050). Provide copies of slides from the present course and review some resources (videos, online tools, relevant games, etc) that are available for use in the classroom. (20 min)

Note that at the end of some sessions above, a number of questions will be posed for forum discussion.

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About the team

Brian Sowerby


Brian Sowerby recently retired as Chief Research Scientist and Program Manager (Instrumentation and Control) with CSIRO Minerals. He obtained a BSc (Hons 1) from the University of NSW and a PhD in physics from the Australian National University. Following two years post-doctoral work in Canada, Brian has carried out research and development in Australia on the application of on-line analysis techniques in the mineral, energy and security industries. His work led to the commercialisation of a number of on-line analysis instruments and he has received many awards for this work including the prestigious Australia Prize in 1992.