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Natural resources for energy systems in a biogeochemical perspective

The course gives you, as a student of civil engineering in energy systems, knowledge of the natural resources and limitations of the most important energy systems both in Sweden and internationally. Theory is interspersed with discussions, group projects, an excursion, a study visit and exercises.
Natural resources set the limits for where, when and how different energy systems can be used in a sustainable way. During the course you will be introduced to the necessary theory within the areas of meteorology, geology, and biology that is required to understand the substance flows and processes which affect the natural resources for different energy systems. We discuss topical conflicts of goals linked to the natural resources used by different energy systems, such as the use of agricultural land for bioenergy production, where there are competing land uses. Other current issues are how to utilize biochemical energy in a sustainable way within e.g. hydrogen, ethanol and biogas production. The course also discusses how the biogeochemical conditions are constantly changing while we are using energy systems, e.g. through the changing supply of raw materials and ongoing climate change.

Additional course evaluations for BI1360

BI1360 Natural resources for energy systems in a biogeochemical perspective, 10.0 Credits

Energisystemens biogeokemiska förutsättningar

Syllabus approved



Biology Soil science

Education cycle

Bachelor’s level


Title Credits Code
Exam 1. Sun, wind... and Energy and raw... 4.00 1002
Exam 2. Bio energy and bo chemical... 3.00 1003
Compulsory group work 1.00 1004
Compulsory course parts 2.00 1005

Advanced study in the main field

First cycle, entry requirements only from upper secondary school(G1N)

Grading scale

5:Pass with Distinction, 4:Pass with Credit, 3:Pass, U:Fail The requirements for attaining different grades are described in the course assessment criteria which are contained in a supplement to the course syllabus. Current information on assessment criteria shall be made available at the start of the course.



Prior knowledge

Knowledge equivalent Physics 2, Chemistry 1, Mathematics 4, or Physics B, Chemistry A, Mathematics E.


The aim of the course is to provide students with basic knowledge of the geological, meteorological, and biological conditions and limitations of the most important energy systems, both globally and locally. Knowledge of these natural conditions is needed as a basis for other courses on the program, but also when graduated civil engineers will develop, design and use different energy systems in an economically, socially and ecologically sustainable way.
After completing the course the student should be able to:
- describe the natural conditions for the primary energy sources - solar and geothermal energy - and how these in various forms drive the biotic and abiotic energy systems,
- orally and in text account for how different basic biogeochemical conditions and processes affect the conditions for different energy sources,
- discuss possible natural constraints on energy systems, which include access to raw materials, climate change and interventions in biogeochemical cycles on a global and regional scale;
- reflect on how the conditions for the energy systems change over time as humans use them,
- discuss the use of different energy systems from an ethical perspective, and
- work in a group and reflect on how the group work worked.


The course highlights how biogeochemical processes affect and drive energy systems, and how these energy systems can be used in a sustainable way. The course is divided into 4 sections:

The section on "Sun, wind and water" covers:
- Meteorological factors that control the global and regional conditions for solar, wind and hydroelectric power
- Global freshwater bodies for use in energy systems

Section on "Soil energy and raw materials" deals with:
- Biological and geological processes leading to the storage of bound solar energy in the form of oil, natural gas, coal, lignite and peat
- Hydrological and geological conditions for geo-energy and geothermal energy in a global and regional perspective
- National and global assets of metals for use in energy systems

The section on "Bioenergy and biochemical energy" deals with:
- Factors that govern global and regional production conditions for biofuels from agriculture and forestry.
- Prerequisites for microbial biochemical energy conversion within for example hydrogen, ethanol and biogas production

Section on "Biogeochemical conditions of the future" deals with:
- How long will the finite resources last?
- The impact of climate change on the conditions for the energy systems
- Ethical considerations for the energy supply of the future and the responsibility of the engineer in this.

Formats and requirements for examination

The following is required to pass the course:
- Active participation in compulsory parts of the course,
- Passed written exams,
- Approved written and oral presentation of group work
  • If the student fails a test, the examiner may give the student a supplementary assignment, provided this is possible and there is reason to do so.
  • If the student has been granted special educational support because of a disability, the examiner has the right to offer the student an adapted test, or provide an alternative assessment.
  • If changes are made to this course syllabus, or if the course is closed, SLU shall decide on transitional rules for examination of students admitted under this syllabus but who have not yet passed the course.
  • For the examination of a degree project (independent project), the examiner may also allow the student to add supplemental information after the deadline. For more information on this, please refer to the regulations for education at Bachelor's and Master's level.

Other information

  • The right to take part in teaching and/or supervision only applies to the course date to which the student has been admitted and registered on.
  • If there are special reasons, the student may take part in course components that require compulsory attendance at a later date. For more information on this, please refer to the regulations for education at Bachelor's and Master's level.

Responsible department

Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Cooperating departments:
Department of Ecology
Department of Soil and Environment
Department of Molecular Sciences
Department of Crop Production Ecology

Further information

Determined by: Programnämnden för utbildning inom naturresurser och jordbruk (PN - NJ)
Biology field: Övriga biologikurser
Replaces: B!1323
There are no Grading criteria posted for this course

Course facts

The course is offered as an independent course: No The course is offered as a programme course: Master Programme in Energy Systems Engineering Tuition fee: Tuition fee only for non-EU/EEA/Switzerland citizens: 25369 SEK Cycle: Bachelor’s level
Subject: Biology Soil science
Course code: BI1360 Application code: SLU-10162 Location: Uppsala Distance course: No Language: Swedish Responsible department: Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment Pace: 33%