Energy Transitions
Global and National Perspectives, 2nd Edition
by Vaclav Smil
December 2016, 282pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-5324-1
$75, £58, 66€, A103
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-5325-8
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Despite decades of efforts to shift to alternative energy sources, more than 80% of the world’s primary energy supply is still derived from coal, oil, and natural gas.

This book provides a detailed, global examination of energy transitions, supplying a long-term historical perspective, an up-to-date assessment of recent and near-term advances in energy production technology and implementation, and an explanation of why efforts to limit global warming and to shift away from fossil fuels have been gradual.

Based on the best international and national statistical sources, the second edition of Energy Transitions: Global and National Perspectives supplies an in-depth evaluation of how economies and nations around the world are striving to move away from traditional energy sources, the unfolding decarbonization process, and problems with intermittent energies and national transition plans. It supplies readers with a clear introduction to the basic properties of energy systems and key concepts of their appraisal, puts energy transition patterns in long-term historical perspective, and looks at the energy transition in eight of the world’s leading economies. The last chapters focus on the advances in the decarbonization of the global energy supply and consider how the energy transition will continue in the coming decades.

This fully updated and substantially expanded edition addresses the many new developments affecting energy supply, such as the recent expansion of hydraulic fracturing, oil price fluctuations, the Fukushima nuclear power plant catastrophe, advances in solar and wind generation, adoption of combined cycle gas turbines, and increased availability of electric cars. The coverage highlights the differences in the pace of transitions in various countries, thereby providing a complete and accurate picture of the current state of energy development in different parts of the world. The book serves as an invaluable resource for students as well as for anyone interested in a realistic appraisal of the current state of energy transitions in various nations and regions and the likely future development of the global energy supply.


  • Presents historical coverage of energy production, energy use, and key technical and economic factors that affect the currently unfolding transitions
  • Offers insightful analysis of energy transitions on both the national and global scale to explain the possibilities and limitations of the process
  • Supplies a critical appraisal of new renewable conversions that makes clear their advantages and potential benefits as well as their inherent unavoidable limitations
  • Enables general readers to gain an in-depth understanding of energy transitions from the perspective of an acclaimed scientist with expertise in the fields of energy, environmental and population change, technical innovation, and public policy
Vaclav Smil is Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Manitoba. An interdisciplinary scientist who has worked in the fields of energy, environmental and population change, technical innovation, food production and nutrition, risk assessment, and public policy, he is author of 39 books and has published nearly 500 papers and essays in more than 100 periodicals. His latest work includes Power Density: A Key to Understanding Energy Sources and Uses; Natural Gas: Fuel for the 21st Century; and Still the Iron Age: Iron and Steel in the Modern World. In addition to his published research, Smil has worked as a consultant for many institutions in the United States and internationally; presented at more than 400 conferences and workshops in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Africa; and lectured at many universities in North America, Europe, and East Asia. Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (Science Academy), he was the first non-American to receive the American Association for the Advancement of Science Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology. Smil was named one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy in 2010, appointed to the Order of Canada in 2013, and given the OPEC Award for Research in recognition of his independent writings on energy in 2015. His website is


"This new edition of the book thoroughly provides readers with the latest published data on the discussed subjects and numerous useful references. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers."—Choice, July 1, 2017
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