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InnoBlog: MSc. Renewable Energy or MSc. Sustainable Energy Systems?

When I was considering applying for the EIT InnoEnergy Master School, I was debating between the MSc. Renewable Energy (RENE) and the MSc. Sustainable Energy Systems (SELECT) programmes. Now, as a student ambassador, I regularly receive emails requesting more information on this topic. In this InnoBlog, I will highlight some of the key features in both Master’s programmes, and the kind of full-time positions one can apply for after graduating.


While all the EIT InnoEnergy programmes are developed with the core idea of improving innovation in the clean energy sector, some value-added courses can differ based on the programme. Furthermore, all the Master’s programmes have different university affiliations. If you have an ideal university you have been wanting to attend, make sure to keep track of the Year 1 and Year 2 universities on the EIT InnoEnergy website, pertaining to your preferred programme!

MSc. Renewable Energy

This Master’s programme is focussed on providing students with in-depth technical knowledge on the most popular renewable technologies such as solar (PV & thermal), wind (onshore & offshore), biomass and ocean / hydroelectric systems. The first semester of the first year is designed to provide basic knowledge on all the technologies, while the second semester offers some flexibility to choose more of what you want to learn. The second semester also starts incorporating economic and business analysis for the renewable technologies, to ensure the students understand how the energy markets work. Other non-technology related courses vary based on university, but the most popular topics are grid integration, energy modelling, energy policy and energy storage. 


The second year is focussed on providing in-depth knowledge on the chosen field of specialisation. It is not necessary to specialise and you can continue to select general electives to improve your overall knowledge. The thesis or internship opportunities are university specific and most students research the companies they want to work for, and select the second year based on that. The university electives can be viewed on the EIT InnoEnergy website. All the students must complete a mandatory practical energy related project in their second year. The students have the opportunity to work with any industry partner, the labs in the university or work independently. The topics are most provided by the industry partners and the students get to choose their teams and project of choice. This project is however short term, terminating at the end of the second semester.

MSc. Sustainable Energy Systems

This Master’s programme is designed to provide additional contribution to sustainable energy systems. While the first semester mandates courses necessary to understand different energy technologies, the scope over the next few semesters is wider. Students learn to address societal challenges with technical solutions. Some specialisations offered include combined energy systems, energy management using data analytics and energy efficiency. This programme tackles all sustainable and operation related issued when it comes to operating a renewable energy plant.


Furthermore, the programme offers some courses that cater to making other industries sustainable as well. For example, steel and cement industries are very energy intensive. Students get to brainstorm solutions that can help make these industries more energy efficient and clean. More information on the specialisations can be found on the EIT InnoEnergy website.   


The Sustainable Energy Systems programme (SELECT) has several industrial partners involved. The students get to work with these partners all through the two years of their studies, improving their industry knowledge while learning on-the-job. 

Innovation & Entrepreneurship journey

Both these Master’s programmes offer innovation and entrepreneurship journeys in a unique way. In the MSc. Renewable Energy programme, students visit ESADE Business School in autumn (1 week), winter (1 week) and summer (3 weeks). Over the entire first year, students develop a start-up idea of their own, complete from preparing a business model, unique selling features and a minimum viable product. During the 5 weeks, students learn business and management topics such as product development, team management, agile project management, intellectual property rights etc. The focus of the journey is to enable students to create an energy related start-up of their own, or develop innovative products while working in large companies. Either way, the core idea is to understand innovation, customer validation and creating products that will help succeed businesses.


The MSc. Sustainable Energy Systems offers the journey as PoY (Project of the Year, first year) and the iPoY (integrated Project of the Year, second year). In the first year, students are presented technical projects by industry partners during the fall seminar. The projects offered vary over the years, but the choices are plenty! Students work in small groups to provide technical solutions for the company projects. The second year is when students get to propose their own projects. You can choose to work with a company, with a governmental organisation or any other energy related organisation (subject to approval from supervisors). The iPoY extends over the entire year, where students perform technical analysis, site visits and interviews to provide solutions with a social and sustainable impact. Some of the PoY and iPoY projects have resulted in start-up initiatives and impactful solutions for communities, for example: MSc students create a hydrogen-based storage system on Kökar island for their PoY, Master’s in Sustainable Energy Systems students create a green solution for a remote Indonesian island!, Students learn social entrepreneurship while building a self-sustainable ecovillage in Brazil.


Alongside the PoY and iPoY, students also visit ESADE Business School in summer, to take courses in entrepreneurship, branding, fast prototyping and other management related subjects.


Overall, both programmes try to make students independent thinkers and enable them to visualise projects and products that are economical and suitable for large scale deployment.


Job opportunities

This part is the most subjective off all. Both programmes have specific goals while also being flexible enough to let students choose topics that interest them. While there is no specific job that ONLY prefers students from one of the programmes, the following are roles that are popular in both fields:


  1. Technical engineer (Solar PV, Solar thermal, onshore wind, offshore wind, hydroelectric power plants)
  2. Product / project manager (energy management services, energy efficiency services)
  3. Engineer at electricity utilities, grid operators, transmission companies
  4. Innovation & business development (for energy start-ups and MNCs)
  5. Energy / sustainability consultant
  6. Energy modeller or policy consultant


All-in all, both programmes are tailor-made to provide students with adequate knowledge and industry experience to make them ready for the workforce. Each programme has its own unique selling point and ultimately the decision is yours to make, based on the information provided in this blog! 

In my next InnoBlog I will similarly compare the MSc. Energy for Smart Cities and MSc.