Power Surge

A Guide to the Coming Energy Revolution

Posted: 7 November 2000

Author: Christopher Flavin and Nicholas Lenssen
Earthscan, London, 1995, £10.95
W.W. Norton, New York, $14.95

Flavin and Lenssen's excellent book is much more than a guide to the coming energy revolution: it also provides an illuminating account of the history of energy use.

Both authors, researchers at the US-based Worldwatch Institute, have done and admirable job in explaining how the world uses energy, for what purposes and what the latest trends portend. And they chart the switch to alternative fuels and the use of renewable sources of energy, such as solar, wind, geothermal and tidal - a process which is much further along than most people realise. Indeed, the price per kilowatt hour of most of these 'fringe' energy sources is now approaching the cost of fossil fuels.

Another essential part of this revolution, and one often overlooked by others, is the impact that energy conservation and efficiency measures have had on demand. For example, while the US economy expanded by 57 per cent in the past 20 years, energy use rose by only 15 per cent. Much of the saving came from innovations in lighting, improved building codes and the widespread introduction of more fuel-efficient cars and household appliances.

This is a 'must' for anyone seriously interested in energy futures, and how we got to where we are.

Reviewer: Don Hinrichsen

Reviewer Info: Don Hinrichsen is a Contributing Editor to People & the Planet.