Unintended Consequences of Renewable Energy – a short review

Energy technologies in the future will need to be based on renewable sources of energy and will, ultimately, need to be sustainable. The Springer book “Unintended Consequences of Renewable Energy” by Otto Andersen provides insight into unintended, negative impacts and how they can be avoided. In order to steer away from the pitfalls and unintended effects, it is essential that the necessary knowledge is available to the developers and decision makers engaged in renewable energy.

Unintended consequences have also been described as “unintended outcomes” due to the implementation of a policy, technology or initiative. This is what this well researched book looks into in terms of the increased uptake of renewable energy. Such consequences can become apparent at a later time in the future or at a different place other than where implemented – which can make it difficult to determine them. “Murphy’s Law” is also thought to play a role in this-  if there is more than one way to do a thing and one of them will end up in disaster, somebody will do it that way.photovoltaic.gif

The IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (2011) treats this issue within the interactions of climate and energy policies context. The report concludes that a clear understanding of the cumulative effects of policies is crucial to improve implementation of modern technologies like renewables and energy efficiency.

Future consequences consist of Consequential LCAs ( Life Cycle Assessments) and the Rebound Effect, Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and Environmental Assessments and Molecular Dynamic Simulations. The book looks especially into Environmental and Health Consequences (emissions to air, soil and water etc) as well as Resource and Land Use.

Controversies such as palm oil production and the increased uptake of biofuels are looked into. Electric cars and its impacts are considered, and transport in general is given much room in this publication. The book presents results from cross-disciplinary research on the implementation of alternative fuels in the transport sector, namely hydrogen, electricity and biodiesel. This is followed by an assessment of environmental impacts from the production of solar cells. Critical reviews on the use of nanotechnology and nanomaterials in the energy technologies is then provided, with the formation of nanoparticles during combustion of bio-blended diesel and their toxic effects, is discussed in detail.co2.gif

Also it is pointed out that the effects across society have to be considered as well as how the distribution of benefits looks like.

The concept of a “risk society” as a basis for thinking accepts the need to improve renewable technologies as a shift becomes unavoidable.

The author Otto Andersen has an unusually broad scientific background covering a wide spectra of science disciplines. He has applied both natural science and social science methods to address societal problems.

Link: Springer Books on “Unintended Consequences of Renewable Energy”


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