Last Updated S012019


Unit Code MEE 507
Unit Duration 1 Term (online) or 1 Semester (on-campus)

Graduate Diploma of Engineering ( Electrical Systems )

Duration: 1 year

Master of Engineering ( Electrical Systems )

Duration: 2 years 

Year Level One
Unit Creator / Reviewer Trevor Blackburn
Core/Elective: Core
Pre/Co-requisites Nil
Credit Points


Grad Dip total course credit points = 24

(3 credits x 8 (units))

Masters total course credit points = 48

(3 credits x 12 (units) + 12 credits (Thesis))

Mode of Delivery Online or on-campus. 
Unit Workload

10 hours per week:

Lecture - 1 hour

Tutorial Lecture - 1 hours

Practical / Lab - 1 hour (where applicable)

Personal Study recommended - 7 hours (guided and unguided)

Unit Description and General Aims

Electric power systems have a major impact on the environment and this impact covers all areas of the system, from the generation of the power, the transmission and distribution and the end use of the electrical energy. The various impacts on society are extremely wide in scope and range from immediate and simple aesthetic effects, such as overhead lines, through to health problems. In addition there are the long term impacts on the environment such as those resulting from greenhouse gases, from nuclear radiation and more simply from the disposal problems of mineral insulating oil.

The scope of the unit will be wide-ranging and will cover (i) the impact of generation on the environment, including the climate and the general public, (ii) the impact of transmission and distribution on the environment and (iii) the effect of the various forms of electrical energy utilization on the environment and on health.

Generation: Greenhouse gas emission including SF6 and CH4, Sox and Nox, nuclear power generation and disposal issues, water pollution, safety hazards with PV systems, wind turbine issues

Transmission & Distribution: Line losses, Electric and magnetic fields, RF interference, AC vs. DC, negative ions, clearance requirements, substation land needs, non-mineral oil use, PCB disposal, mineral oil disposal, vegetation management, lightning protection and performance, fire ignition by overhead lines

Utilization: Industrial processes and hazards generated: steel mills, arc furnaces, Al refineries, etc.

Furthermore, this unit will consider the sustainability of the power system operation as a major factor in the operation of modern power systems, including the interaction between the three basic components of the environment, the economy and the society. While renewable energy generation is seen as a panacea to many problems of climate change and sustainability issues, it does, nevertheless, have a major impact in terms of use of resources in the manufacturing phase and thus it is of interest to perform life cycle analyses on some of the renewable methods to determine what positive or negative benefits they may develop over their operating life.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this Unit, students are expected to be able to:
1. Analyse the operation of electrical energy systems in terms of their energy efficiency, uses of materials and their environmental impact.
Bloom’s Level 5
2. Analyse the electrical energy losses in the various aspects of the supply system and to understand the ways in which such losses can be reduced and minimized in practice. Line and transformer losses, lightning system evaluations.
Bloom’s Level 5
3. Demonstrate knowledge of the potential hazards and degradation properties of  materials used in electrical energy supply, with knowledge of their disposal and safe use in electrical equipment.
Bloom’s Level 6
4. Understand the impact of the various fields that are associated with electrical power systems.
Bloom’s Level 5
5. Demonstrate knowledge of lightning and surge protection of low voltage power systems in the utilization stage and the protection of personnel and prevention of fire ignition.
Bloom’s Level 6
6. Analyse sustainability of power systems and methods of conserving resources so that ecological processes and the quality of life can be sustained and improved.
Bloom’s Level 5
7. Perform life cycle analysis of the various components of existing and renewable systems.
Bloom’s Level 6

Student assessment

Assessment Type

(e.g. Assessment -2000 word essay (specify topic)

Examination ( specify length and format))

When assessed

(e.g week 5)

Weighting (% of total unit marks) Learning Outcomes Assessed

Assessment 1

Type: Multi-choice test / Group work / Short answer questions / Role Play / Self-Assessment / Presentation
Topic examples: “An assessment of the environmental impact of thermal (coal and gas) generation and nuclear generation” “A review of the progress in the search for a replacement gas for SF6 in electrical power systems” “The safety hazards associated with the operation of large scale PV generation systems”)
Week 5 20% 1, 2

Assessment 2

Type: Report / Research / Paper / Case Study / Site Visit / Problem analysis / Project / Professional recommendation

Example: Report (Midterm Project)

[This will include a progress report; literature review, hypothesis, and methodology / conclusions]

Word length: 1000

Topic examples: “A review of the state of art and the potential for practical fusion generation systems” or “The impact that climate change will have on lightning strike frequency and the potential effects that this will bring” or “A full life cycle analysis of a [PV or wind turbine or nuclear or large transformer] system, with net energy balance conclusions”

Week 8 25% 4,5,6

Assessment 3

Type: Report (Final Project)
[If a continuation of the midterm, this should complete the report by adding sections on: methodology, implementation / evaluation, verification / validation, conclusion / challenges and recommendations / future work. If this is a new report, all headings from the midterm and the final reports must be included.]
Word length: 2000
Topic examples: Continuation of midterm
Final week 35% 1,2,3,7

Practical Participation

Example: May be in the form of quizzes, class tests,
practical assessments ,remote labs, simulation software or case studies
Continuous 15% 7

Attendance / Tutorial Participation

Example: Presentation, discussion, group work, exercises, self-assessment/reflection, case study analysis, application.

Continuous 5% 1 - 7


Prescribed and Recommended readings

Required textbook(s)
1. Cigre study committee work –Assigned by lecturer
Reference Materials
  • Union of Concerned Scientists papers:
  • IDC/ EIT notes and Reference texts as advised.
  • Other material advised during the lectures

Unit Content

One topic is delivered per contact week, with the exception of part-time 24-week units, where one topic is delivered every two weeks.


Topics 1 to 3

Generation, transmission, utilization and the environment

1. Thermal generation, renewable generation,

2. Greenhouse gas emissions

3. Lines and cables, power losses

4. Interaction of lines with the environment

5. Utilization processes and impact

6. Use of DC grids and power electronics and their impact

Topic 4

Energy and Greenhouse emissions and targets
1. Kyoto protocol
2. International programs for energy reduction
3. Current international approaches


Topics 5 and 6

Impacts: Fields and materials
1. EMF of OH lines and cables: effects on personnel
2. Power frequency E and B field induction effects and impacts
3. HF interference, corona loss and IT problems
4. Materials and disposal
5. OH lines and vegetation: interaction effects


Topic 7

Renewable energy systems
1. Renewable energy systems: PV and wind
2. Their impact on the environment and on climate change
3. Integration into existing grids
4. Hazards associated with grid connection

Topics 8 and 9

Sustainability and Global responsibilities
1. The sustainability triangle
2. Economics – Environment – Society
3. UN frameworks
4. ISO 14001 requirements for businesses
5. Eco-efficiency


Topics 10 and 11

Life cycle analysis procedures

1. Material and manufacture process energy needs
2. Operation life energy needs
3. Replacement and disposal energy needs

Topic 12

Project and Revision
In the final week students will have an opportunity to review the contents covered so far. Opportunity will be provided for a review of student work, to clarify any outstanding issues, and to work on finalising the major assessment report.