How the renewable energy transition could usher in an economic revolution

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In the sixth contribution to the INSURGE symposium, ‘Pathways to the Post-Carbon Economy’, Felix FitzRoy, Professor Emeritus at the School of Economics and Finance, University of St Andrews, argues that scepticism of the potential for a prosperous renewable energy ignores two key issues: the colossal, yet often hidden, economic costs of fossil fuels, including huge subsidies, many times greater than renewable energy subsidies; and the myriad economic dividends that could thereby open up when a renewable energy transitions weans us away from fossil fuel dependence. More details are in the book — An Introduction to Climate Change Economics and Policy, 2nd ed.Routledge, 2016, by Felix FitzRoy and Elissaios Papyrakis.

In this context, concerns about net energy decline, while understandable, might not account for what a renewable energy transition could achieve, with the right sort of support from both government and industry. For FitzRoy, we have still barely begun to tap into the potential to scale up for renewable energy in a way that is sustainable.

The key, he says, is not in any single renewable energy source — which alone would be insufficient — but in the way multiple renewable sources can be effectively combined and integrated through a smart grid.

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