Energy for Sustainability is both thematic in the emphasis on sustainability, which is defined as, “…patterns of economic, environmental, and social progress that meet the needs of the present day without reducing the capacity to meet future needs”(3). This definition is applied to sustainable energy by specifying patterns of energy production and the need for energy with the least economic, environmental, and social costs all the while maintaining the capacity to meet future needs. The book focuses on the current problems with global sustainability in the contexts of energy.
The book elaborates on the issues with achieving energy sustainability, simplifying it into three major components: oil, carbon, and expanding global demand. Oil still provides 37% of the world’s total energy use, and the Earth’s oil reserves are continuing to be depleted. Fossil fuels provide 86% of our energy and are continuing to increase carbon emissions that change the global climate. The ever-present and expanding global demand is also a major hindrance to global energy sustainability. Some complicating factors listed include society’s slow progress in using alternative energy, it is difficult to bring about change because of social norms, vested interest, etc., and time to prevent detrimental consequences is very short. In order to fix these issues the reading proposes that we improve energy efficiency and reduce demand growth, replace oil with alternative energies with less influence on the economy and environment, and finally to increase carbon-free energy sources such as fossil fuels.
Some of the means to achieve these goals are also suggested, “Sustainable energy technologies, including efficient production and use, renewable energy systems, and selected clean and safe fossil fuel and nuclear technologies”(27). The section also emphasizes the need for consumer and community choice for efficient and sustainable technologies, as well as public policies to help develop and exercise sustainable technologies.
Plastic pyrolysis is a solution with an easily accessible fuel source, as well as the ability to create a more sustainable waste and recycling process. Although plastic pyrolysis will not help with the sustainable issue of carbon emissions, it would be a great help in facilitating sustainable energy technologies.