International Politics Reviews

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 118–122 | Cite as

From Stranger to Status Quo: How Renewable Energy Achieved a Political Coup

Review of Renewables: The Politics of a Global Energy Transition by Michaël Aklin and Johannes Urpelainen (MIT University Press, 2018)
  • Varun SivaramEmail author
Book Review

In 2017, wind and solar power were the fastest-growing energy sources on Earth, and they attracted more global investment – over $100 billion each – than any other power source, clean or dirty (Hirtenstein, 2018). Their costs have plunged, and their share of the global electricity mix is on the rise. Within the next 5 years, they could supply over 10 percent of the world’s power, up from virtually zero at the turn of the twenty-first century.1

Yet even though the explosive growth of renewable energy is a relatively recent phenomenon, its roots stretch far back into the twentieth century. As Aklin and Urpelainen document in their fascinating new book, Renewables, the seeds of the renewable energy boom were sown when a few pioneer countries made investments in renewables in the wake of the 1970s oil crisis. And it was never a sure thing that those seeds would ultimately bear fruit; in fact, the momentum behind renewable energy was at risk of withering on the vine. Had some countries not...


  1. Hirtenstein, A. (2018) China’s Solar Boom Boosts Clean Energy Funding Near Record. Bloomberg Markets, January 16, 2018.Google Scholar
  2. Kingdon, J.W. and Thurber, J.A. (1984) Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies (Vol. 45). Boston: Little, Brown.Google Scholar
  3. Sivaram, V. (2017) Unlocking clean energy. Issues in Science and Technology 33(2): 31.Google Scholar
  4. Sivaram, V. (2018) The Dark Side of Solar: How the Rising Solar Industry Empowers Political Interests that Could Impede a Clean Energy Transition. Washington: Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  5. True, J.L., Jones, B.D. and Baumgartner, F.R. (1999) Punctuated equilibrium theory. Theories of the Policy Process (Chap. 6, pp. 175–202).

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philip D. Reed Fellow for Science and TechnologyCouncil on Foreign RelationsWashington, DCUSA

Personalised recommendations