Sustainable Energy: an unbiased Review of Options

Brian Sowerby
Award winning scientist
Learn how to teach your students good and interesting lessons about sustainable energy and climate change from a balanced and unbiased perspective.
Target Audience
Secondary Teachers of Science and Geography
143 reviews

Learning Areas

General Description

Hi there. My name is Brian Sowerby, a former CSIRO Chief Research Scientist. I have created this course to provide you with teaching tools that can be used to engage students in up-to-date learning on how to provide energy in the future while minimising environmental damage. The course provides a balanced and unbiased overview of the various options. The focus of the course is on providing information on the various technologies and on conducting a realistic evaluation of these technologies. The course has strong links to various parts of the high school syllabus, particularly in Science, Earth and Environmental Science, Physics and Geography. The course firstly looks at motivations for changing our energy production and use followed by an assessment of our energy demands now and in the future. To meet these demands renewable technologies are evaluated as well as coal or gas with carbon sequestration, nuclear and geothermal. A wide range of teaching resources is provided.


Secondary Teachers of Science and Geography

Available Delivery Formats

Format Description

24/7 lifetime course access


- If you have a TTA subscription or membership please ignore the pricing when enrolling. Rest assured if your school has a subscription you will not be charged and for Memberships, your invoice will be adjusted accordingly to reflect your discount.

- If you have no subscription or membership but you are interested in placing a bulk discounted order for a team of teachers see the ONLINE TEAM tab above.

- For more details on our Unlimited Online Subscription packages Click here .

- Money-Back Guarantee – If you complete less than 25% of an online course and aren’t impressed, simply visit 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 6 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 5.5 professional development hours.


  Start Date Location Availability Price    
Enrol Now Now Online Places available $269 + GST Enrol Now


Motivations for Change

1 hour

In the first session you will learn about motivations for changing our energy production and use. These motivations include finite resources, energy security and climate change. World energy reserves will be reviewed and climate data and climate models will be discussed.

Energy Consumption

40 minutes

Using the methodology developed by Prof David MacKay, our energy consumption will be expressed in simple units that are easy to understand and compare. Our energy consumption includes: transport (cars, planes, freight, etc); heating and cooling; lighting; information systems and other gadgets; food and manufacturing.

Renewable Energy Technologies

1 hour and 30 minutes

In this session renewable technologies will be discussed and their potential realistically evaluated. The technologies to be reviewed are wind, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, energy storage, biomass combustion and fuel, hydroelectric, geothermal, wave and tide.

Coal, Gas and Nuclear

1 hour

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. In addition we will evaluate nuclear as an alternative base-load technology for Australia.

Future Energy Plans

30 minutes

In this session we will consider a range of possible energy plans for the future (up to 2050) and evaluate the costs of implementing these plans.

Resources for Teachers

1 hour and 20 minutes

In the final session we will review some resources that are available for use in the classroom. You will be asked to create a lesson plan on sustainable energy and share it with the other participants.

What To Bring

Join the course with an open mind. One of the big problems for teachers is to access unbiased assessments of the various options available to provide energy in the future while minimising environmental damage. Unfortunately much of the information on this topic available on the internet is presented by proponents of a particular technology. Therefore I think that it is important that unbiased and realistic assessments be available. I am in a good position to provide this information, having worked on various projects with the Australian energy and mineral industries for over 40 years and having a strong background in applied physics.

User Rating


Latest Reviews

Please note the feedback listed here is unfiltered, and includes all comments and ratings collected.

Sustainable Energy: an unbiased Review of Options - Brian Sowerby

Highly relevant. I didn’t like the delivery style. too much reading and far more than 6 hours of work.

Sustainable Energy - An Unbiased Review of Options - Brian Sowerby

Highly informative with great detail and illustrations

Sustainable Energy - An Unbiased Review of Options - Brian Sowerby

Material is a detailed and factual account of options available to provide electricity in Australia, which will be used in classroom topic`Energy in Australia" for students

Sustainable Energy - An Unbiased Review of Options - Brian Sowerby

Amazing. Such a great depth of knowledge offered at an incredibly accessible level!

Sustainable Energy - An Unbiased Review of Options - Brian Sowerby

High quality and very relevant

Sustainable Energy - An Unbiased Review of Options - Brian Sowerby

The information was thorough and informative. Very relevant to what I wanted to know.

Sustainable Energy: an unbiased Review of Options
by Amy Young on 16/11/2017

Found this course incredible interesting and a wonderful source of resources and knowledge.

Sustainable Energy: an unbiased Review of Options
by Karen Eykelenkamp on 14/11/2017

This course had an overwhelming amount of information and data on the subject that was easily deciphered and understood with the use of graphs and diagrams. The supplied lessons on power point were excellent to be used in any classroom for geography, science, environmental sciences etc.

Sustainable Energy: an unbiased Review of Options
by Stephen boyd on 02/11/2017

The course was very informative. The materials were presented in a clear manner, and were of a very high standard.

The level of the course suited me well, as most of what was included I could directly use in the classroom.

Sustainable Energy: an unbiased Review of Options
by Tania Hogan on 17/07/2017

An interesting and well-designed course, with great resources that I will definitely use in my classroom.

Sustainable Energy: an unbiased Review of Options
by michelle daly on 29/12/2016

I found the course content engaging with plenty of interesting resources that I can weave into my planning documents.

Sustainable Energy: an unbiased Review of Options
by David Massingham on 14/12/2015

The online Course run by Brian Sowerby was very informative, and the break down of the course into Six main topics, some of them including Reasons for Change; Coal and Gas; and Renewable Resources helped to explain and engage participants in some rather complex and heady topics. Student participation was considerable, and Brian provided timely and insightful feedback to student responses that helped expand our learning and broaden our knowledge of the topic. I thought that this course was excellent and would recommend it to anyone trying to upscale or learn more about Australia’s (and the world’s) energy resources, and viable replacement options for Coal, Gas and Oil.

Sustainable Energy: an unbiased Review of Options
by Robert Melady on 07/12/2015

Really enjoyed the self paced online course. Whenever I could find the time I slowly made my way through the course. Leaving feedback and answering questions is a great way for people to get involved and feel connected.
The creation of the teaching resources pushes you to use the knowledge gained during the professional development into practice.

Sustainable Energy: an unbiased Review of Options
by Penny Whiting on 23/07/2014

This course material was incredibly interesting, however time consuming to read all of it.

Sustainable Energy: an unbiased Review of Options
by Melinda Mestre on 21/07/2014

I found the course very information and useful. It was beneficial from the content area (content that I can also use in the classroom). The statistics presented were challenging and they were from a good selection of sources.

by Toni Stevens on 21/01/2014

The course was amazingly eye opening. As I stated in my last post
“I will be honest and say that I entered this course with the belief that renewable energy should (and therefore could) solve most of our climate change issues. It has become pretty obvious that although renewable energy is very attractive it is not yet technologically at a stage where it could viable supply our base load of electricity on it own. I don’t believe that this is a reason not to employ it, i still believe it has major advantages, and the more we employ it the more it will continue to develop and improve.”

by Hayley Leonardi on 21/01/2014

This was a really interesting course and I will bring what I have learnt plus the excellent resources into my classroom.


The information was clear and included a good selection of media to discuss topics. The feedback was individual and prompt.


I found the course very interesting and informative. The wide range of resources presented are applicable to everyday teaching. The data presented gave me a much better understanding of the topic and I feel I have a better grounding in the basics.


I found this course excellent with very good resources. It was well set out, well-paced and very interesting. I really enjoyed this course.

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.