Can renewable energy sources power the world?
Can renewable energy sources power the world?

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Can renewable energy sources power the world?

Week 8: Towards a renewable future

Introduction

In the preceding seven weeks of the course, you’ve looked in turn at the principal renewable energy sources and described the individual contributions they might make to the energy needs of the UK, Europe and the world, under various conditions.

This final week draws the threads together. It examines a number of future energy scenarios showing how combinations of renewable sources could provide all, or most, of the energy needs of the United Kingdom, of other European countries and the World as a whole, during the first few decades of the 21st century, starting with the UK.

Download this video clip.Video player: intro_week8_can_renewables_640.mp4
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Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

GODFREY BOYLE: In the preceding seven weeks of the course, we've looked in turn at the principle of renewable energy sources, describing their underlying technologies, their economics, and their environmental impact. We've also looked at the contributions they might make to the energy needs of the UK, Europe, and the world under certain conditions.

In this final week, we draw the threads together. We examine a number of future energy scenarios, showing how combinations of renewable energy sources could provide all or most of the energy needs of the United Kingdom, of other European countries, such as Denmark and Germany, and of the world as a whole during the first few decades of the 21st century.

This final week also includes a series of six short video interviews with key figures in the renewable energy industry who give their expert opinions on how much energy could be supplied by renewables to the UK, other European countries, and the world as a whole.

There's little doubt that the technical, social, and political challenges involved in phasing out conventional fuels are formidable. But as you'll see, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that renewables are likely to play a greatly increased role in world energy supplies. And if the optimists are correct, given sufficient support from governments, industry, and the public, renewable energy could power the world.

End transcript
 
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By the end of this week, you will be able to:

  • assess at a basic level the contribution that renewable energy technologies can make to the overall sustainability of energy systems at different scales
  • discuss the difficulties created by the time-varying nature of some renewable energy supplies
  • describe the importance of energy storage and demand management
  • compare and contrast at a basic level British, other European and global approaches to renewable energy development and its importance in global sustainable development.
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