The best books on the people and places leading the clean energy revolution

Clark A. Miller Author Of Cities of Light: A Collection of Solar Futures
By Clark A. Miller

Who am I?

My motto is: we are techno-humans. Whatever nature or God created, we re-created. We move in cars, chat via the Internet, and eat industrial food. Technologies shape our bodies, identities, even imagination. That’s why the energy transition fascinates me. We propose to rip out and replace the technological foundations of the global economy. No less than the data revolution, energy transitions are about human re-invention. So, what kinds of human futures are we engineering? And can we design energy futures that make human futures better, more inclusive, more just? Figuring that out is my job as Director of the Center for Energy & Society at Arizona State University.


I co-created...

Cities of Light: A Collection of Solar Futures

By Clark A. Miller,

Book cover of Cities of Light: A Collection of Solar Futures

What is our book about?

What will it be like to live in cities powered by solar energy? Over the past century, fossil fuels have deeply influenced urban design and living, from lighted nightscapes and suburban sprawl to polluted environments in fenceline communities. How, in turn, will solar energy mark the future of cities? A collection of science fiction, art, and expert commentary on the future of urban solar design, Cities of Light tells the stories of diverse communities in four iconic US cities and their struggles to use solar energy to solve climate change and end injustice.

Through these stories, inspired by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, Cities of Light deepens our understanding of the technologies that power urban life and their essential role in shaping the cities of tomorrow.

This book is free and you can get it here.

The books I picked & why

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Revolutionary Power: An Activist's Guide to the Energy Transition

By Shalanda Baker,

Book cover of Revolutionary Power: An Activist's Guide to the Energy Transition

Why this book?

There’s no better place to start exploring the revolutionary potential of renewable energy than Revolutionary Power. The new justice tsar at the US Department of Energy, Baker takes you inside the struggle of African American communities with the environmental injustices of fossil fuels. No industry has created more inequality, violence, injustice, pollution, and corruption, worldwide, over its history than energy. The great hope of renewable energy is to solve climate change while also restoring justice: creating new energy technologies and also new practices of energy development, new forms of ownership, and new ways to integrate technology generatively into communities and landscapes. In the story of her life and her community, Baker illustrates why the quest for energy justice and democracy is critical to the success of the clean energy revolution.

Revolutionary Power: An Activist's Guide to the Energy Transition

By Shalanda Baker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Revolutionary Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In September 2017, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, completely upending the energy grid of the small island. The nearly year-long power outage that followed vividly shows how the new climate reality intersects with race and access to energy. The island is home to brown and black US citizens who lack the political power of those living in the continental US. As the world continues to warm and storms like Maria become more commonplace, it is critical that we rethink our current energy system to enable reliable, locally produced, and locally controlled energy without replicating the current structures of power and…


Energy Overlays: Land Art Generator Initiative

By Elizabeth Monoian (editor), Robert Ferry (editor),

Book cover of Energy Overlays: Land Art Generator Initiative

Why this book?

Humans are creatures driven by what we see happening around us and the stories we tell about those events. And, for more and more of us, cities are where daily life happens. So, the future of cities as places and spaces of human engagement and interaction really matters. Energy Overlays and the Land Art Generator’s other amazing books create a window into how renewable energy might transform the future of urban spaces, places, people, and stories. Prompted by a simple question, “What if energy was also public art?” the Land Art Generator hosts bi-annual global design competitions in collaboration with some of the world’s most iconic cities. The result is a rich and magical tour of the urban future, envisioned by leading architects, urban planners, and energy imaginaries.

Energy Overlays: Land Art Generator Initiative

By Elizabeth Monoian (editor), Robert Ferry (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Energy Overlays as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Energy Overlays provides a glimpse into our post - carbon future where energy infrastructure is seamlessly woven into the fabric of our cities as works of public art. Fifty designs use a variety of renewable energy technologies to arrive at innovative site - specific solutions. Power plants of the future will be the perfect place to have a picnic!

On the foreshore of St Kilda with the skyline of Melbourne as a backdrop rises a new kind of power plant - one that merges renewable energy production with leisure , recreation, and e ducation . Energy Overlays provides a roadmap…


Energy at the End of the World: An Orkney Islands Saga

By Laura Watts,

Book cover of Energy at the End of the World: An Orkney Islands Saga

Why this book?

At their best, anthropologists open up for readers the infinite variety of what it means to be human. Laura Watts is the best. More than just an incisive cultural analyst, Watts is a skilled poet and storyteller. Her book about renewable energy innovation in the Orkney Islands takes us, literally and figuratively, to the end of the world. We learn what it means to live in a world wrought by energy technologies. We walk among all different kinds of people who have the imagination and the gumption to try to re-imagine and re-energize that world in radically new ways. And along the way, we begin to see how all of those people come together, in one place, in odd collaborations, to make futures for the rest of us.

Energy at the End of the World: An Orkney Islands Saga

By Laura Watts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Energy at the End of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Making local energy futures, from marine energy to hydrogen fuel, at the edge of the world.

The islands of Orkney, off the northern coast of Scotland, are closer to the Arctic Circle than to London. Surrounded by fierce seas and shrouded by clouds and mist, the islands seem to mark the edge of the known world. And yet they are a center for energy technology innovation, from marine energy to hydrogen fuel networks, attracting the interest of venture capitalists and local communities. In this book, Laura Watts tells a story of making energy futures at the edge of the world.…


Solar Power: Innovation, Sustainability, and Environmental Justice

By Dustin Mulvaney,

Book cover of Solar Power: Innovation, Sustainability, and Environmental Justice

Why this book?

Power. We all need it. In the future, a lot of it will be solar. By 2050, half or more of global energy will come via photovoltaic technologies. That’s 100+ billion solar panels, with an annual churn of 2-4 billion. Which makes the solar industry one of the most important on the planet. Solar Power takes a hard look inside the solar industry: its materials, processes, facilities, workforces, waste streams, and landscapes. Mulvaney pulls no punches, but his fundamental message is simple: there are a lot of different ways to make and deploy 100 billion solar panels. The choices we make will have huge implications for how the benefits, costs, and risks of solar energy get distributed across different groups of people. Just like any other giant industry.

Solar Power: Innovation, Sustainability, and Environmental Justice

By Dustin Mulvaney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Solar Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this important new primer, Dustin Mulvaney makes a passionate case for the significance of solar power energy and offers a vision for a more sustainable and just solar industry for the future. The solar energy industry has grown immensely over the past several years and now provides up to a fifth of California's power. But despite its deservedly green reputation, solar development and deployment may have social and environmental consequences, from poor factory labor standards to landscape impacts on wildlife.

Using a wide variety of case studies and examples that trace the life cycle of photovoltaics, Mulvaney expertly outlines…


Infomocracy: Book One of the Centenal Cycle

By Malka Older,

Book cover of Infomocracy: Book One of the Centenal Cycle

Why this book?

Infomocracy is the most prescient book I’ve ever read. Seemingly, though, it has nothing to do with energy. So why is it here? Because data engineers are writing the future of energy alongside everything else. And Older, more than anyone, grocks that data is not just technology, it’s democracy, and humanity. She also understands that, when technologies leave the lab or start-up company, innovation doesn’t end; it’s only just beginning. Engineers don’t create the future; we all do. We choose technologies. We use them in our own ways, for our own purposes. In the process, we remake technology, and we remake ourselves. Infomocracy teaches us that we engineer technology. That’s the most important lesson about the clean energy future: it’s ours to make, alongside a new human future.

Infomocracy: Book One of the Centenal Cycle

By Malka Older,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Infomocracy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's been twenty years and two election cycles since Information, a powerful search engine monopoly, pioneered the switch from warring nation-states to global microdemocracy. The corporate coalition party Heritage has won the last two elections. With another election on the horizon, the Supermajority is in tight contention, and everything's on the line. With power comes corruption. For Ken, this is his chance to do right by the idealistic Policy1st party and get a steady job in the big leagues. For Domaine, the election represents another staging ground in his ongoing struggle against the pax democratica. For Mishima, a dangerous Information…


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