Introduction

Energy plays a central role in our society. All our sectors of activity, housing, transport, industry and agriculture depend on it.

The significant technological mutations in the field of energy have led to major changes in the economic and social operation of the world in which we live. This is illustrated, for example, with the industrial revolution, marked by the advent of the steam engine and coal as energy source, development of automotive and air transport, related to large-scale use of oil in the twentieth century and the increasing role played by electricity in our economic system.

Currently, however, increased energy consumption is no longer solely associated with the notion of progress, but also with a certain number of threats which weigh on our society and our environment.

The risks of depletion of fossil energies, above all oil, represent an initial factor for concern. The imminence of peak oil production is mentioned repeatedly. Tensions over oil supplies, induced by increasing demand, cause continued price instability and combine with political factors to create the threat of crisis.

The impact of energy production from fossil fuels on the environment is also becoming a matter of growing concern. In addition to the risks for the environment on a local scale, we are now faced with the danger of global warming caused by CO2 emissions.

The solution may seem to be straightforward: simply stop using fossil energies and replace them by energies which do not display the same disadvantages, namely nuclear energy and the renewable energies, thereby moving into the 'post-oil era'.

Unfortunately in practice, on a global scale, these alternative energies cannot be substituted rapidly and massively for the fossil energies, which will continue to represent a substantial share of the energy consumed for many years to come. Also, they are not risk-free, either in terms of safety as regards nuclear energy or in economic terms as regards the renewable energies. Moving from the current situation to a sustainable energy system cannot be done by waving a magic wand. This move will involve, in particular, radically changing our habits as well as our energy production and consumption structures.

We must therefore plan a transition to avoid, first, a major crisis in energy supplies and, secondly, a climate change with catastrophic consequences. The paths to be taken to ensure the success of this energy transition will be discussed in the remainder of this book:

■ Chapter 1 describes how energy is currently consumed in the context of globalisation, which favours a sharp rise in demand.

■ The threats for consideration in this consumption model are analysed in Chapters 2 and 3. The analysis demonstrates that the current model is not sustainable.

■ Chapter 4 deals with the conditions under which the energy transition must be undertaken. This analysis results in an action plan based on four points.

■ The actions to be carried out according to these four points are described in greater detail in Chapters 5-8. They are a collection of innovations which will be described and summarised in a table. Technical solutions alone, however, are not sufficient. A change in patterns of behaviour and the statutory context is also an integral part of the strategy proposed.

■ Chapter 9 describes the forthcoming perspectives, based on an analysis of the future contribution of these various solutions in solving the problems raised.

An acceptable development scenario is within our reach, but at the price of an effort which must not be underestimated. A substantial change is necessary. It concerns not only the energy sector, but also our entire economy and our society. The commitment of all citizens, companies and governments will be crucial to successfully implement the actions required. In view of the imminence and gravity of the dangers facing us, this change is urgent: we must act with determination and without delay.

Guide to Alternative Fuels

Guide to Alternative Fuels

Your Alternative Fuel Solution for Saving Money, Reducing Oil Dependency, and Helping the Planet. Ethanol is an alternative to gasoline. The use of ethanol has been demonstrated to reduce greenhouse emissions slightly as compared to gasoline. Through this ebook, you are going to learn what you will need to know why choosing an alternative fuel may benefit you and your future.

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