Solar Energy Studies at DU

If you’re reading this post, chances are that you are interested to know more about the solar programme at Dalarna University. Yes, the university website is thorough in detailing the syllabus, fee structure and the courses. But what I aim for with this post, is to help you out with understanding whether you should apply and whether the programme itself is a good fit for you.
So far, I am one semester into the programme and each course I have studied has been quite distinct.
The first course was ‘Solar Radiation and Geometry’ with Mats Rönnelid which was a treat. I found Mats’ teaching style very fluid and interactive. He has over two decades of experience in the solar domain and his command on the topic is amazing. For any solar engineer, it is important to understand the earth-sun angles and the resultant effect of these angles, making the course extremely relevant.

Next came Photovoltaics (PV), which was taught by a combination of three professors, one of whom was a visiting faculty, Thomas Walter, from Germany. A group of students from Germany accompanied Thomas and studied the course with us, giving us an opportunity to mingle and learn from students of another university. The course focussed on device physics of a solar PV module and designing a basic PV system. Simply put, it gives one an understanding of how electricity is generated from a PV solar module. For someone with no background of solar, this course is immensely useful.
Next up (and a popular amongst past students) was ‘Economics of Solar Energy’, taught by Tara Kandpal from India – a visiting faculty from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, and one of the earliest Post Doctorates in the solar technology field from India. Understanding market dynamics is crucial for any technology to be competitive and the same holds true for solar technology. This course teaches you all you need to know about solar tariffs, policy making, NPVs, IRRs, discount rates, payback periods. The only bone I could pick is the course could have been longer!

What has added to my experience here is classroom diversity. We have fresh graduates as well as professionals in class, coming from varying backgrounds like electrical or mechanical engineering, physics etc. Further, this bunch of about 30 is geographically diverse as well, coming from over 20 countries. It helps to mix with people all over the world – to understand how they learn, how they work.
An important thing to know is that there will be times when the course will seem intensive. Some weeks give you ample room to breathe, but others have you attending lectures six to seven hours a day. You are also expected to read on your own each week to keep up with the class.
The courses here are mostly taught one at a time. What that means is, we had Solar Radiation most of the first two weeks and then we had the final exam a few days after. After that we had PV for the next two weeks and then two weeks of Economics. I was a bit worried about this format since I’d been used to studying five subjects at a time. But the Swedish method helps you focus on one course at a time and learn more effectively. Thumbs up to this format from me!

So far, my experience at Dalarna has been immensely rewarding – not just academically, but in terms of the people I’ve met and the new cultures I’ve learnt. If you’re looking for an enriching experience, growing and learning with classmates across the world and gaining a truly international exposure, this course is for you!

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This post was written by Anukool, a student from the Master’s in Solar Energy Engineering and Dipti‘s husband.

Photo Credits: Ahmed Hathout.


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