The use of renewables is spreading rapidly. Over a quarter of global electricity is already generated from solar, wind, hydro and biomass energy. With costs falling significantly, renewables are booming, helping to avoid the major climate change risks associated with fossil fuel use in power stations, homes and vehicles. But can we get rid of all of these dirty energy sources – and nuclear power, as well – and deliver 100% of our energy from renewables? Or are renewable energy systems inherently unreliable and expensive, given the need to deal with their variability?
In this timely analysis, leading energy expert David Elliott tackles these issues head on and asks to what extent renewables can deliver a technologically and economically viable energy future. Exploring both the progress and problems of renewables against a backdrop of rising energy demand, he argues that, on balance, they do seem to be living up to their promises. With renewables rapidly expanding across the globe, and China now leading the pack, a renewable future could really be on the horizon.
List of Boxes
Chapter 1. Introduction: all change?
Chapter 2. The Renewable Transition
Chapter 3. Energy technologies for the future
Chapter 4. System development: tying it all together
Chapter 5. The limits to a sustainable future
Chapter 6. The Geopolitics of the transition
Chapter 7. Global action
Chapter 8. Conclusions
David Elliott is Professor Emeritus of Technology Policy at the Open University, UK, where he developed courses and research on technological innovation, focusing on renewable energy policy. Since retirement, he has continued to write extensively on that topic, with this book bringing the strategic issues into sharp contemporary focus.
"This timely book provides an easily readable account of how renewable energy has emerged as the main driver of a transition away from fossil fuels. I highly recommend it for all readers interested in energy and climate."
– Mark Z. Jacobson, Stanford University
"How can we move to a sustainable energy system? This book addresses the key issues, with the insights and clarity expected from the UK's most distinguished commentator on renewables."
– Nick Eyre, Director, Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions