The next energy revolution: Glorious or bumpy? Winners or losers?

The future green energy revolution is often pictured as a glorious combination of economic growth, employment and a solution to climate change. However the signs look more ominous.

Oil companies, the main stay of pension funds and western economies, have failed to turn themselves from extraction companies into energy companies. Their profitability is down or non-existent as energy returns on investment shrink and their debts are rising. Renewable energy is almost paying for itself, but solar is dominated by China and energy returns on investment anyway are an order of magnitude lower than Oil had in its hay day. Solutions to renewable energy intermittency still seem elusive. How might this all play out in a world plagued by debt overhang and international trade and political tensions?

Professor Tim Foxon has looked at past revolutions in his new book “Energy and Economic Growth: Why we need a new pathway to prosperity” and they weren’t pretty. He talked about what we can learn from them and what this might mean for a future revolution.

Tim Foxon

Tim is Professor of Sustainability Transitions at SPRU (Science Policy Research Unit). His research explores technological and social factors relating to the innovation of new energy technologies, the co-evolution of …

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