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Why is the world's transition to renewable energy moving so quickly?

When May 30, 2019
from 05:30 PM to 07:00 PM
Where Webb Library, West Court, Jesus College, Jesus Lane CB5 8BL
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Professor Peter B Littlewood will give an illustrated lecture on why the world's transition to renewable energy is moving so quickly.  The lecture will be followed by a question and answer session.

The impact of renewable energy technologies - principally solar, wind, and electrical storage - is now exponentiating. Introduced in earnest from the early 2000's, the world's first TeraWatt of modern renewable generation capacity was built by 2018, and the second TW will be completed in the early 2020's, at a cost of about 1$ per Watt. (The world's consumption of power of all kinds is about 20 TW on average.) Staggering reductions in costs now mean that unsubsidized solar and wind is less expensive than any other form of power generation.

The speed of this change shows every sign of being much more rapid than the first industrial revolution (based on coal, from 1700-1870), the 20th century mobility revolution (based on oil), and even the information technology revolution (1950's onward). Accelerating change might be expected, since increasingly sophisticated technologies build on each other. But each revolution has so far also been led by countries that can bring resources, financial capital, and science together: first the UK, Germany and France, then the USA, and now China.

China now has the largest deployed capacity of solar power, wind power, and electric vehicles, of any country. Its manufacturing scale has reduced costs globally. China is not yet a hub of science discovery or technology innovation, but usually science follows the money.

Professor Littlewood is Professor of Physics at the University of Chicago. He was previously Director of Argonne National Laboratory, USA, and before that a Professor of Physics at the University of Cambridge and Head of the Cavendish Laboratory.  He is the Founding Executive Chair of the Faraday Institution, the UK's independent centre for electrochemical energy storage science and technology, supporting research, training and analysis.

Professor Littlewood holds six patents, has published more than 250 articles in scientific journals, and has given more than 300 invited talks at international conferences, universities and laboratories. His research interests include superconductivity and superfluids, strongly correlated electronic materials, collective dynamics of glasses, density waves in solids, neuroscience and applications of materials for energy and sustainability.

This is one of the lectures in the on-going China Centre Seminar series, hosted by the China Centre, Jesus College. The lectures, given by eminent speakers, will cover a broad range of topics and disciplines.


Attendance is free and booking is not required.