Alternative Energy


The aim of this curricular unit is to train students in the present energy challenges, and deepen their knowledge in the technologies and their corresponding materials (with emphasis in nanomaterials) currently used in the:

1) conversion of energy, namely: solar to electrical (photovoltaic) or thermal energy, mechanical to electrical energy;

2) storage of energy, including, batteries, fuel cells, supercapacitors, among others.

Given the current paradigm of energetic transition, seeking ever more sustainable energy consumption processes, it is crucial that the students acquire knowledge on the operation principles of the transformation, storage and management systems, as well as on their fabrication and characterization methods.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Manuel João Dias Mendes


Weekly - 5

Total - 76

Teaching language



Available soon


- R. Martins, H. Aguas, E. Fortunado, "Energia Fotovoltaica: Materiais e Aplicações", Nova Editorial, 2020.

- J. Rogelj et al, "Energy system transformations for limiting end-of-century warming to below 1.5 °C". NATURE Clim Change 519-528, 2015

- JRC (2016) Assess. of potential bottlenecks along materials supply chain for future deployment of low-carbon energy (…)

- K. Mertens, “Photovoltaics: Fundamentals, Technology and Practice”, 2014, Wiley.

- M. D Archer, M. A Green, “Clean Electricity From Photovoltaics”, 2015, Imperial College Press.

- Enrich, Righini, "Solar Cells and Light Management", Elsevier, 2020.

- M. BaraK, P. Perecrinus, "Electrochemical Power sources, primary and secondary batteries", 1980;

- D. Linden, "Handbook of batteries and fuel cells", McGraw-Hill, 1984

Teaching method

The lectures are conducted using powerpoint presentation, including didactic materials and multimedia (videos, applets, etc). The laboratory work includes an application component through practical exercises and experimental work performed in group.

Evaluation method

Evaluation: 55% average of the tests or exam + 15% Work on the first two classes + 15% PV characterization Report + 15% dimensioning work.

Evaluation work of the first two classes: individual work between 5-6 pages A4 (Times New Roman 11) on the role of solar energy in the global and regional and main energy transition and challenges.

Report: Characterization of solar cells (I-V curves + spectral response); Determination of HotSpots in modules; Manufacture of a silicon thin film solar cell.

Subject matter

- Introduction tocurrent energy consumption and production problematic, and low carbon transition

- Scenarios and materials needs for the low carbon energy transition: environment, economic and social challenges associated to materials’ needs for energy

- Materials and technologies for solar to electrical energy conversion: working principles of solar cells, production processes, materials that can be used and their advantages/disadvantages at economical and environmental level, novel concepts to improve the photovoltaic efficiency via light management with photonic strategies;

- Materials and systems used in converting solar energy into thermal energy - coatings / materials absorbers of radiation and other materials;

- Materials and technologies for energy storage: electrochemical operation principles of batteries and fuel cells, supercapacitors and other energy storage systems, materials used and their advantages/disadvantages, environmental issues;

- Materials and technologies for mechanical to electrical energy conversion: piezoelectric principles, nano-generators, power management for systems harvesting energy from motion.