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The Dirty Energy Dilemma


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"An extensively researched, highly accessible, authoritative explanation of the challenges facing the American electric utility sector. The Dirty Energy Dilemma will stimulate debate about its content, and offers inspiration for those who seek to promote more progressive energy policy." -- Dr. Art Rosenfeld, Commissioner, California Energy Commission, Recipient of the 2006 Enrico Fermi Award "This is a bold, provocative, and brilliant work that examines why wind, solar, and other clean power technologies have not penetrated the American electricity market, but it also provides a much-needed blueprint for how they could." -- Dr. Hermann Scheer, Member of the German Bundestag, President of the European Association for Renewable Energy,^LGeneral Chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy, and the Recipient of the 1999 Right Livelihood Award. "The U.S. wastes more energy from the inefficient production of electricity each year than Japan harnesses for its entire economy. This is just one of the many remarkable revelations in this volume. New energy policies are a global priority. The world desperately needs thinking in this area. This brilliant volume by Benjamin Sovacool will provide new insights and stimulate new debates. Its appearance could not be timelier. It should be read carefully by all, from academics to policymakers, from businessmen to journalists." -- Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, Former Ambassador to the United Nations, Author of The New Asian Hemisphere "This is a book the president and his staff should read. They should give copies to every member of the House and Senate if they're to intelligently vote on energy policy. Insightful, clear, and forceful, Sovacool explains how America's renewable energy policy has been hijacked for 30 years and what we need to do to reclaim it for a safer, cleaner, and more secure country." -- Paul Gipe, Renewable energy advocate, Author of Wind Energy Comes of Age "In this timely work, Benjamin Sovacool explains both the alternative energy possibilities now available and the political, economic, and social impediments that the United States must overcome to create a clean energy society." -- Dr. David E. Nye, Professor of American Studies at the University of Southern Denmark, Author of Consuming Power: A Social History of American Energies "The Dirty Energy Dilemma offers a new insight into America's energy issues. Sovacool takes us past the oft-visited and necessary, but insufficient, questions of hardware and finance and into new terrain. By viewing the electric utility industry as a set of human interests and perceptions, Sovacool adds a vital element: cultural analysis. With a blend of sensitivity and bluntness, recognizing that we have met the enemy and they are us, Sovacool outlines the perceptions--the paradigms--that have tied our minds to old and dirty energy choices. Shining a light on the ways that we have limited our thinking, he opens the chance for us, together, to go beyond our past and into a future that we consciously make far, far, better. We all--as analysts, as technologists, as economists, or as humans--owe Sovacool a thanks for showing us the limits of our thoughts, so we can transcend them in our future." -- Michael Dworkin, Professor of Law & Director, Institute for Energy and the Environment, Vermont Law School

Table of Contents

Preface Introduction Chapter OneThe Big Four Energy Challenges Chapter TwoThe Big Four Clean Solutions Chapter ThreeFinancial and Market Impediments Chapter FourPolitical and Regulatory Obstacles Chapter FiveCultural and Behavioral Barriers Chapter SixAesthetic and Environmental Challenges Chapter SevenThe Big Four Policy Mechanisms Chapter EightConclusions

About the Author

Benjamin K. Sovacool is Research Fellow in the Energy Governance Program at the Centre on Asia and Globalization in the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He is Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Government and International Affairs Program at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. He investigated the social impediments to renewable energy systems for the NSF Electric Power Networks Efficiency and Security Program. He has worked in advisory and research capacities at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research, and the U.S. Department of Energy's Climate Change Technology Program. He is the co-editor with Marilyn A. Brown of Energy and American Society: Thirteen Myths (2007) and a frequent contributor to such journals as Electricity Journal, Energy Policy, Stanford Environmental Law Journal, and Daedalus.


"Conventional energy sources are low-cost but dirty, finite, and prone to price volatility, while clean energy is sustainable and reduces air pollution and emissions of greenhouse gases. However, clean energy is more expensive, demands difficult changes from both consumers and suppliers, and results in environmental disruption, so how do we embark on a cleaner, more sustainable energy path? Sovacool (Energy Governance Program, National Univ. of Singapore) solves this 'energy dilemma' by dismissing it. He argues that the negative aspects of clean energy are best ignored, even if doing so requires a federal mandate compelling utilities to purchase more expensive clean energy and forces energy consumers to pay a 'benefit charge' to finance their own reeducation by funding programs that promise to reduce consumers' aesthetic and environmental objections to clean power." - Choice
"When advocates of the conventional electric industry dismiss alternatives to fossil fuels and nuclear technology as immature, inefficient, and risky, says Sovacool (energy governance, National U. of Singapore), they are lying. He identifies the impediment to adopting them not as technological challenges, but social, cultural, economics, and political interests. He looks at financial and market impediments, political and regulatory obstacles, cultural and behavioral barriers, and aesthetic and environmental challenges." - SciTech Book News
"...[A] gem of an analysis pertaining to the energy industry in the United States...[A] superb piece of work..." - Energy Policy
"...the book is not light reading, but is important reading for anyone with serious interest in national and global energy issues. ...Although I may not agree with Sovacool on all points, his work is informative, interesting and compelling in logic. Without question, The Dirty Energy Dilemma provides some very serious food for thought. I would add it to the required reading list for all energy policymakers." - Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Waypoint Book Review
"Grappling with a topic that too many find boring, Sovacool ignites new passion to conserve energy, experiment with alternatives to fossil fuels, while seeking independence from suppliers who resent their customers along with a grid that's antiquated and burdensome. Obama's inaugural address offers hope that the time has come for the US to recognize that self-restraint can produce more freedom and happiness than excess, and Sovacool's book joins a rallying cry that marks the end of an era of so much wasted potential." - Yale Global Online

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