Benjamin K. Sovacool

Benjamin K. Sovacool is Professor of Business and Social Sciences and Director of the Center for Energy Technologies, AU-Herning, Aarhus University, Denmark. He is also Associate Professor at Vermont Law School, where he manages the Energy Security and Justice Program at the Institute for Energy and the Environment (IEE). Sovacool is the recipient of the 2015 Dedication to Diversity and Justice Award for Environmental and Energy Justice, Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, American Bar Association.
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An exploration of commercially available technologies that can enhance energy security and address climate change and public policy options crucial to their adoption.

Tackling climate change and improving energy security are two of the twenty-first century's greatest challenges. In this book, Marilyn Brown and Benjamin Sovacool offer detailed assessments of the most advanced commercially available technologies for strengthening global energy security, mitigating the effects of climate change, and enhancing resilience through adaptation and geo-engineering. They also evaluate the barriers to the deployment of these technologies and critically review public policy options crucial to their adoption.

Arguing that society has all the technologies necessary for the task, Brown and Sovacool discuss an array of options available today, including high-efficiency transportation, renewable energy, carbon sequestration, and demand-side management. They offer eight case studies from around the world that document successful approaches to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and improving energy security. These include the Danish approach to energy policy and wind power, Brazil's ethanol program, China's improved cookstove program; and the U.S. Toxics Release Inventory. Brown and Sovacool argue that meeting the twin challenges of climate change and energy security will allow us to provide energy, maintain economic growth, and preserve the natural environment—without forcing tradeoffs among them.

The American electric utility system is quietly falling apart. Once taken for granted, the industry has become increasingly unstable, fragmented, unreliable, insecure, inefficient, expensive, and harmful to our environment and public health. According to Sovacool, the fix for this ugly array of problems lies not in nuclear power or clean coal, but in renewable energy systems that produce few harmful byproducts, relieve congestion on the transmission grid, require less maintenance, are not subject to price volatility, and enhance the security of the national energy system from natural catastrophe, terrorist attack, and dependence on supply from hostile and unstable regions of the world. Here arises The Dirty Energy Dilemma: If renewable energy systems deliver such impressive benefits, why are they languishing at the margins of the American energy portfolio? And why does the United States lag so far behind Europe, where conversion to renewable energy systems has already taken off in a big way?

Corporate media parrot industry PR that renewable technologies just aren't ready for prime time. But Sovacool marshals extensive field research to show that the only barrier blocking the conversion of a significant proportion of the U.S. energy portfolio to renewables is not technological—the technology is there—but institutional. Public utility commissioners, utility managers, system operators, business owners, and ordinary consumers are hobbled by organizational conservatism, technical incompatibility, legal inertia, weak and inconsistent political incentives, ill-founded prejudices, and apathy. The author argues that significant conversion to technologically proven clean energy systems can happen only if we adopt and implement a whole new set of policies that will target and dismantle the insidious social barriers that are presently blocking decisions that would so obviously benefit society.

Current events related to energy policy – skyrocketing gasoline prices, the 2003 Northeast Blackout, the Kyoto Protocol’s enactment, passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and the influence of recent Gulf Coast hurricanes on energy supplies and prices – demand innovative approaches towards conceptualizing the relationship between energy and American society.

This book takes on a central quandary in the study of energy and environmental policy: What myths continue to exist in American culture concerning energy, the environment, and society? It enrolls twenty-four of the nation’s top experts working on energy policy in industry, government laboratories, utilities, nonprofit organizations, and universities to debunk and contextualize thirteen energy myths relating to electric power, renewable energy, energy efficiency, transportation, and climate change.

While the book focuses on the American experience, it will be of interest to those working in the fields of energy policy, energy and the environment, and technology assessment worldwide.

'This is a brilliant, bold, and fascinating book ...that should be read by anybody even remotely concerned about energy, the environment, or the future of American society.’

Art Rosenfeld, Commissioner, California Energy Commission and recipient of the 2006 Enrico Fermi Award

‘...This work is a must-read for anyone interested in American energy policy.’

Kateri Callahan, President, Alliance to Save Energy

‘...By collecting the best minds to debunk the greatest of these myths, Sovacool and Brown have brought us a step closer to finding a national energy policy based on common sense.’

Chris Cooper, Executive Director, Network for New Energy Choices

‘... Sovacool and Brown provide a bold and imaginative way forward.’

John A. "Skip" Laitner, Visiting Fellow and Senior Economist, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

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