Look closely at the semis at the base of this wind turbine south of Assiniboia. They are parked right beside it. That gives some idea of the scale of these turbines. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

CALGARY – There’s a new trend in education – free online courses for people who just want to learn something of interest. The University of Alberta is now offering such a massive open online course (MOOC) on the “energy transition.”

And Pipeline Online editor Brian Zinchuk has just signed up. And so can you, at https://www.coursera.org/learn/21st-century-energy-transition.

The course is free if you just want to audit it. It’s $66 if you want to take the tests and get a mark at the end.

It’s being led by Brad Hayes, president of Calgary firm Petrel Robertson Consulting. That firm is currently working on lithium from oilfield brine projects. Hayes has a PhD in geology.

Hayes said by email on Nov. 9, “I led the creation of the “21st Century Energy Transition – How do We Make it Work?” MOOC to bring out as much important information as possible on the future of energy, taking pains to be unbiased.

“Of course, there are a few of my LinkedIn non-fans who have a quick scan and decide it’s hopelessly biased in favour of fossil fuels, but that reflects their biases, not mine. We acknowledge the importance of the emissions issue right up front, but the entire thrust of the course is that we have to be driven by energy needs, not solely by emissions targets.”

He added, “I’d like to point out that there are a number probably about 10 guest lecturers that are subject matter experts in their fields. So it’s not just me, chatting away for 28 lessons. We’ve got people that are supply chain experts, electricity grid experts, policy experts who are contributing expert opinions, not just not just what I think.”

Hayes is also working on a similar course regarding lithium development. It will be offered through a different outlet in the coming months.

Watch for updates as Zinchuk progresses through the energy transition course.


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Alberta’s now 32 wind farms with 3,076 megawatts capacity put out just 15 megawatts at supper on Tuesday, and 3 megawatts at midnight