Beyond the Age of Oil
The Myths, Realities, and Future of Fossil Fuels and Their Alternatives
by Leonardo Maugeri Translated from the Italian by Jonathan T. Hine Jr.
February 2010, 259pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-38171-3
$55, £43, 48€, A76
eBook Available: 978-0-313-38172-0
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The transition from a world economy based on fossil fuels to one based on sustainable energy sources must take place between now and 2035 to avert unacceptable environmental consequences, but this dauntingly difficult transition will only happen if the community of nations can couple a massive phase-in of alternative energy sources with fossil-fuel efficiency improvements.

This book offers a revealing picture of the myths and realities of the energy world by one of our most renowned energy experts and managers.

At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the human race finds itself caught in an “energy trap.” Carbon-rich fossil fuels—coal, petroleum and natural gas—are firmly entrenched as the dominant sources of our energy and power. Their highly concentrated forms, versatility of use, ease of transport and storage, ready availability, and comparatively low costs combine to give fossil fuels an unassailable competitive advantage over all alternative sources of energy. This economic reality means that fossil fuels will inevitably continue to be the backbone of the global economy for the next quarter of a century, even while the adverse climate and environmental effects of our dependence on fossil fuels hurtle toward global crisis levels. To avert unacceptable environmental consequences, the world must deliberately and incrementally supplant fossil fuels with alternative energy sources, on a schedule that will have them overtake fossil fuels in the world’s energy budget by 2035. To achieve this urgent goal without massive economic dislocation and reduction in standards of living, global investment in fossil fuel efficiency will be just as important as the development and massive deployment of alternative energy technologies and delivery systems.

In this eagerly awaited sequel to his prize-winning bestseller, The Age of Oil, Leonardo Maugeri, the strategy director of one of the world’s biggest energy companies, puts forward a hard-headed, concrete plan in simple everyday language for how to shift the world economy’s primary energy dependence from fossil fuels to renewable energies by 2035. Assuming no specialized knowledge, the author walks the reader chapter by chapter through each of the fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas) and each of the alternative energy sources (nuclear, hydroelectric, biofuel, wind, solar, geothermal, and hydrogen). Drawing on the unparalleled data and analysis resources at his command, Maugeri assesses the problems and advantages of each energy source in turn in order to constrain the optimal mix of energy sources that the world should be aiming for in 2035. Critically, he lays out the arduous path for getting from here to there. Maugeri shows that the next 25 years will be a rocky marriage between the old and the new energy paradigms, during which we must dramatically improve the efficiency of our continuing use of fossil fuels, while driving ahead on all fronts to an energy future based on a suite of sustainable energy sources.


  • Comprises 11 chapters, each on a specific type of primary fuel, from oil and coal to more eco-friendly alternatives
  • Helpful appendixes provide additional data and other useful information
  • Offers references for works cited and further reading
  • Includes a comprehensive index
  • 26 tables marshal global data for quick and easy comprehension by general readers
  • The English edition is extensively updated and augmented by the author compared to the original Italian edition
Leonardo Maugeri, PhD, is senior executive vice president of strategies and development at Eni SpA, one of the world's leading international oil and gas companies and Italy's largest industrial company. He directs Eni's research and technology policies and renewables programs, and he serves on the boards of directors of Polimeri Europa SpA, Italgas, and Fondazione Mattei. Internationally recognized as a preeminent expert on oil, gas, and energy, Maugeri is a visiting scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a member of MIT's External Energy Advisory Board. He is the author of four books on energy, including Praeger's The Age of Oil: The Mythology, History, and Future of the World's Most Controversial Resource, which was named a CHOICE 2007 Outstanding Academic Title, won the 2007 Premio Roma, and has been translated into 11 languages. His articles on oil, gas, and energy issues have appeared in mainstream and professional periodicals, including Foreign Affairs, Science, Scientific American, Forbes, The Oil & Gas Journal, The Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek.


Outstanding Academic Title, 2010—Choice, January 1, 2011


"This authoritative, insightful assessment of the basic factors in the world's energy future is so timely, comprehensive, and well written that it belongs in most academic and public library collections. . . . Valuable for students of political science, economics, science, and technology. Summing Up: Highly recommended Academic and general libraries, all levels."—Choice, August 1, 2010

"In a very engaging narrative, Maugeri brings to life normally dry and inaccessible material—energy economics, geology, and geopolitics—in a pragmatic book that is a pleasure to read."—John Hamre, PhD, President, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, DC; former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense

"Much of the debate about clean energy veers from the arcane to the politicized. With this new volume, Leonardo Maugeri offers a refreshingly clear exploration of the history and future of our energy options, from oil to the most tractable alternative energy sources. From his perspective as a corporate leader, he argues compellingly that to achieve a clean energy future, we must 'terminate the perception of energy as near-near costless input' and decouple investments in energy alternatives from fleeting spikes in the price of oil." —Susan Hockfield, President, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"Beyond the Age of Oil is an important and timely contribution to understand our energy future. It provides an even-handed, deeply-informed—and highly readable—exploration of the energy choices that the world faces. Writing both as highly-knowledgeable specialist and as a 'rational environmentalist', Leonardo Maugeri provides a comparative framework for understanding the options—thus illuminating the challenges facing not only the familiar sources but also renewables and alternatives. He makes sense of many of the most vexing issues. Maugeri demonstrates not only why the energy question is so important for the world but also how we can constructively seek to answer it."—Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Prize: the Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power
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