Energy Systems and Sustainability: Power for a Sustainable Future (3rd ed.)

Everett, Bob; Peake, Stephen and Warren, James eds. (2021). Energy Systems and Sustainability: Power for a Sustainable Future (3rd ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.



Billions of people in developing countries are striving to achieve higher living standards. The rate of energy use in China and India has grown enormously over the past thirty years, accompanied by dangerous levels of air pollution. There is also the urgent need to address the dangers of climate change. Global emissions of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion, will have to be cut dramatically over the next three decades. It is vital that the rise in global temperature is, if possible, kept down to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels. The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically changed transport energy use across the world and its longer-term effects on global energy use remain to be seen. How can global energy demand be met cleanly, safely and sustainably? There are those who say that the continued use of fossil fuels is essential to continuing economic growth. Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels could be reduced using carbon capture and storage (CCS). However, coal, oil and gas are finite resources that cannot be used indefinitely. Nuclear power may offer a limited solution, but it has its own problems of uranium supply, waste disposal and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Renewable energy technologies, particularly those of wind power and solar energy have developed dramatically since the 1970s. These are now significant contributors to the energy mix in the UK and many other European countries. Future expansion of renewable energy could be the most sustainable solution to global energy needs. This book is focused on energy supply, but not because energy saving is any less important. It also concentrates on the UK, but also looks at a range of other countries, such as the USA, France, Denmark, India and China. Many readers will want to know what ‘the answer’ is. Alas, there is no ‘magic silver bullet’. This book attempts to set out the sustainability problems in energy use, and explain the issues, the terminology and the basic physics. It hopefully gives a good grounding for reading other reports and books on the subject, particularly the companion volume Renewable Energy. This book and its companion have been written initially for undergraduates studying energy modules at The Open University. However, they are also for all readers interested in sustainable energy futures. We hope that both books will convey something of the enthusiasm we feel for this complex and important subject.

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