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The world is not running out of fossil fuels, as is often claimed. With technological progress and favorable economic conditions, a process of resource-base expansion occurs through the production of resources that were previously considered economically unviable. Resource-base expansion requires increasing capital investments per unit of energy extracted and an accompanying rise in production costs per unit. The world is running out of cheap fossil fuels, and in the long term, dependence on fossil fuels leads to energy services that are much more expensive and inaccessible. Given other important incentives for transitioning from fossil fuels, such as the need to mitigate global warming and eliminate the geopolitical struggles over the remaining fossil fuel reserves, the only alternative is a decades-long complex transformation of energy systems toward renewables. This brief narrates the evolution of this transition toward modern renewables by drawing on experiences of several countries and argues that these transitions will play a significant role on a global scale, because followers learn from the experience of pioneers.


Governance and Sustainability Issue Brief Series, Brief 12.



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