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Sound far-fetched? Rifkin realizes that his proposal contradicts conventional economic theory. His book is meant as a wake-up call, alerting the world to the need for dramatic change to prevent a planetary crisis of untold proportions. Together, he believes, they represent what is needed for a comprehensive change to a new economic vision. Rifkin believes we already have the resources and technology to introduce a sustainable economic future, but he wonders whether we have the will to implement it.

A shared sense of community will challenge the present concept of private property.

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Copyrights and patents will not survive open-source networks. The world of competition and conflict will give way to unprecedented cooperation, because sharing knowledge, creativity, access and technology is the only way forward to a sustainable society. Homo sapiens is giving way to Homo empathicus. Yet the human story is full of conflict.

How To Save The World: Germany's Wind Power Economy

What Rifkin proposes is nothing short of a fundamental change in human nature. But in reality can any number of industrial revolutions bring that about? Or does the change of heart required depend on spiritual intervention from without? Is the era of fossil fuels really ending? Are renewable energy sources ready to rescue humanity from economic and ecological disaster?

While Rifkin objects to continuing doubt about the urgent need for alternatives, recent discoveries of oil and natural gas deposits, climate change skepticism and the comparative costs of green technology cause many to remain unconvinced. Together they call for restraint amid the enthusiastic rush toward green energy to fuel the economic engines of the world. The authors acknowledge the appeal of the green-energy movement, with its message of clean electricity, new green jobs and a clean environment. They reference a United Nations Environment Program report to illustrate the enormous scale of societal change sought by green-energy enthusiasts.

Is the underlying theory correct? Before launching yet another effort, on an even grander scale, we need to thoroughly critique the vision. As that observation makes clear, the authors are suspicious of programs that depend on government subsidies for support and survival. They believe proponents of new technologies bear the burden of proof to demonstrate that they can produce the results they claim.

Government subsidies are often directed to favored projects. This creates a situation where it appears that political factors determine winners and losers. By way of example, the authors remark that recent government biofuel subsidies contributed to significant unintended consequences. They cite the link between greater corn-based ethanol production and higher prices for the myriad foods that contain corn products or rely on corn for feed.

In the view of these four writers, then, the viability of green technology is currently being overstated and oversold to the public. Whatever position one takes in the debate over green energy and its role in our increasingly populous world, few would argue that the essence of life is water. Without it life would simply cease to exist. This is the most recent focus of Brian Fagan, emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of California—Santa Barbara, who has written extensively about the interplay of human culture and nature.


  1. Knowledge Management: Best Practices in Europe?
  2. Wind Power in View: Energy Landscapes in a Crowded World;
  3. Sustainability in a Crowded World.

History reveals that human beings have recognized water as a physical necessity for survival, a source of status for the rich, and a spiritual symbol common in religious ritual. Despite the challenges that the technology faces in the immediate term, the general global move towards using lower carbon forms of electrical generation means that we are likely to see increased use of waste as fuel. It fulfils a number of objectives that the UK government has set out from diverting waste from landfill to producing more non-intermittent energy domestically.

For Atkins, this means the chance to solve challenging and novel technical problems whilst helping our clients develop infrastructure that will contribute to helping the UK meet its renewable generation commitments and dispose of our waste in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner. Transforming the future of coal. David Esslemont 19 Oct Comments. Many countries around the world are integrating increasing amounts of renewable energy generation to mitigate against emissions and move to a low carbon energy system.

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When we rely on coal for so much of our power, and with a third of coal-fired power stations in the UK set to close as soon as in order to meet air-quality legislation, what will happen to the rest of our coal fired power plants? Many are undergoing some sort of retrofit. Converting power stations to biomass, and introducing low carbon modifications and add-ons like selective non-catalytic reduction and selective catalytic reduction are all having an effect on limiting emissions and meeting international climate change targets. These measures keep essential coal powered stations online and generating whilst reducing their environmental impact.

The biomass conversion at Drax is a great example of how coal power stations can be retrofitted to become low carbon. Atkins is the technical services provider for Drax and we have worked with them for decades helping to maintain their units and more recently understand the effects of burning a different type of fuel to what the boiler was originally designed for. Of course, eventually, polluting coal power plants will be entirely phased out and replaced with technologies that are low-carbon or even carbon free.

Wind Power in View: Energy Landscapes in a Crowded World by Martin Pasqualetti

In the meantime, coal has an important role to play in the energy mix for the foreseeable future. Innovating new ways of generating power and changing the way we use energy go hand in hand as we move towards a low carbon economy and face the challenges and opportunities around integrating new technologies into our power systems. Carbon capture and storage — fantastic or realistic? David Few 05 Oct Comments. Carbon capture and storage CCS has for long seemed quite fantastical. The idea of catching and setting aside carbon emissions may at first appear like pie in the sky, but getting CCS right and diverting CO 2 away from the atmosphere could have a major impact on reducing global carbon emissions.

What is CCS? Undoubtedly, as with all developing technologies, CCS will present some challenges, not least of which is driving the costs to levels comparable to other low carbon technologies, nonetheless, it offers a practical proposition and could play an essential role in the efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Arguments against CCS tend to focus on the fact that to date it has been expensive and more broadly any use of fossil fuels, even with carbon capture, is inherently bad for the environment and should be discontinued.

There are lots of crossovers with the oil and gas industry in terms of supply chain and skills base — as well as the potential reuse of facilities and infrastructure — but injection instead of extraction technology is needed and the composition of the CO 2 is different to the hydrocarbons that will have been extracted; a similar viscosity to gas with a density closer to a liquid.

Where it is viable is through enhanced oil recovery schemes and around ten projects in the USA are currently doing this. In Canada, Australia, China and Norway various projects are underway and at different stages of development. Regulations in Norway tax CO 2 and this has encouraged carbon sequestration schemes. In the meantime, capturing and storing CO 2 from coal and gas fired power stations will provide a way of lowering emissions in the short to medium term.

Whilst the technology for doing it is well-established, the pressing need now is to demonstrate full and large scale integration into the energy sector and show that CCS can be commercially viable. This is important as commercial viability builds confidence within the investment community and will enable government support to be reduced to prices comparable to other low carbon forms of technology by Atkins has been at the heart of this process acting as technical advisor to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change for 2 years bringing together an incredibly diverse range of skills from across the company advising on specifications, contracts and negotiations.

Whether a large scale worldwide roll out of the technology will happen as soon as was predicted remains to be seen. Ultimately the process in the UK is about pioneering and establishing a viable new industry that is commercially sustainable for use without extensive government support.

Where do we get our energy from? Sam Stephens 17 Sep Comments. The logical conclusion was to provide a sustainable mix of generation consisting of renewables, nuclear and conventional generation, with a transition to low carbon generation. Eight years on and the energy mix remains a pertinent issue, but with the additional dimension now of where our energy is generated.

All scenarios considered by National Grid forecast an increase in overall installed generating capacity over the next 15 years, but also an increase in generation at the lower end of the scale. There are now additional factors to consider. Traditionally, we have found economies of scale through building larger power systems, both in generation and networks.

The rise of renewables challenges this view, with economies of scale now achieved through scale of manufacture and financing models, and operational efficiencies gained through technology. The short to medium term view will be more complex, particularly with the gradual removal of renewable subsidies and incentives, and technology such as smart meters reaching maturity. However, in another ten years, we will look back at and realise that it marked the tipping point where renewable forms of generation started to become economically viable in their own right.

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In addition to this, the ongoing price reductions in battery storage technology , driven by investment in electric vehicles, will help manage the variability of renewable generation. As soon as we consider this question, it raises a number of further issues. Standing charges to users and Capacity Markets for generators will be important to finance the maintenance and operation of existing assets that are increasingly relied upon for balancing power and resilience.

Large scale consumers will increasingly look to grid scale generators to guarantee supply, either for national or economic interests. A good example of such users may be emergency services or operators of electric vehicle networks, as recently launched in London. A further issue is around whether these changes are actually beneficial for the environment. Will it be effective in cutting our carbon emissions? Are there any negative environmental impacts that need to be considered and built into regulation?

Have we fully thought through the consequences and will it enhance the security of supply and the overall resilience of energy system? These are the challenging questions we will be debating on the 23rd September in London, at Future Proofing Energy: Environment. In conjunction with Imperial College, Atkins has brought together key industry figures from finance, regulation, communities and generators, both large and small, to debate this and the wider issues around decentralised energy systems.

The full power potential of the sun. Hugh Falkner 15 May Comments. Investing in a solar power system might involve a large upfront cost, but within months of construction commencing it will start to generate a predictable energy stream that will last for 30 years, with no exposure to fluctuating fuel prices, and only minimal operations and maintenance cost — something which no other electricity producing technology can claim.

Solar power in the UK almost doubled during to around five gigawatts GW , enough to power 1. The Middle East region is aiming to generate 15GW from solar power by Understanding all the options that solar can bring can help developers produce buildings that not only offer green credentials, but by thoughtful selection of technologies, can also be visually stunning and act as cost saving structural elements.

Melvil Decimal System: 621.45

Around the world there is also growth in large scale multi-megawatt systems, and here we help clients with the new challenge of integrating these systems in to sometimes weak distribution networks. The current low prices of solar systems may offer a boom time for installers and purchasers while it lasts, but it has also meant bust for those established suppliers who have gone out of business.

And in the rush to reduce cost alongside rapid deployment to grab falling subsidies, too often innovation is falling behind. The rapid growth in solar also brings its own problem in the form of hotspots developing in areas of high penetration. This can be seen most notably in parts of Southern Germany where there is so much power produced from the many domestic solar installations, that in the middle of the day when power production is at a maximum there is a danger that the network will be overloaded.

The solution is storage; growing the functionality of inverters to include domestic battery storage and simple load control is a promising contribution towards the development of the smart grid. The hard work of getting solar technology to the price-performance position it is now in has been done.

Getting the incentives and network control technology in place to fully realise the potential of this extraordinary energy source is something that will keep our economists and engineers busy for a little longer.