1 July 2007

Walt Patterson underlines the need for a new approach to energy and fuel.


Walt Patterson

Associate Fellow, Energy, Environment and Resources


We are making a mess of energy. What we're doing with it is leaving people in the dark and endangering the planet. But we could do much better. Keeping The Lights On shows how. In immediate, accessible everyday language it describes a different way to think about energy, what we want from it and how we get it.

We can begin with electricity - how we use it, produce it, and pay for it. Traditional electricity is a century old, obsolete and overdue for improvement. But we keep getting it wrong. The decisions that governments and companies are now taking are making matters worse, missing opportunities all over the world.

That could change rapidly. Electric options are burgeoning. Innovative technologies, novel finances and healthier business relations offer cleaner, more convenient, more stable systems, pointing the way to sustainable electricity services. But the evolution is much too slow. Too many governments, too many companies, too many people cling stubbornly to out-of-date assumptions and mindsets.

Keeping The Lights On challenges these sterile and damaging misconceptions, with an exhilarating vision of a brighter future. We can make energy use more reliable, more equitable, and more sustainable, for ourselves and our children, starting with electricity, starting now.

Author: Walt Patterson, Associate Fellow of the Energy, Environment and Development Programme at Chatham House.

Co-published by Chatham House and Earthscan, July 2007


You can order this book through Brookings.

Alternatively, you can order through Chatham House:

T: +44 (0)20 7957 5700
F: +44 (0)20 7957 5710

Contact Publications 

Praise for Keeping The Lights On

'This is such a timely book. Combining extraordinary historical insight with the sharpest analysis of where we are now, Walt Patterson carves out the most applied and practical of "road maps" as to where we need to go if we are to deliver a genuinely sustainable electricity system for the future. As we go into a period of considerable turbulence, primarily because of the impacts of climate change, Keeping The Lights On will undoubtedly be seen as a very well-informed Guidebook.' - Jonathon Porritt CBE, Chair, UK Sustainable Development Commission

'Fashions come and fashions go in the energy world. Security of supply, climate change and market liberalisation have all vied for our attention. It's good to have one voice that's stayed constant over thirty years of turbulence and change. Keeping The Lights On distils Walt Patterson's thinking over the last three decades. As ever, he provokes us to re-examine our own thinking about energy policy. Essential reading as we face up to new challenges.' - Professor Jim Skea OBE, Research Director, UK Energy Research Centre

'A very important and timely book. Walt Patterson persuasively challenges traditional assumptions about how we think of energy and electricity, and presents an exciting vision of an innovative and sustainable future.' - Nick Mabey, Chief Executive, E3G (Third Generation Environmentalism), former senior advisor in the UK Prime Minister's Strategy Unit

'Walt has got this exactly right. It should be compulsive reading, if not compulsory reading, for all politicians and other players that determine or have a role to play in energy policy, and more importantly in tackling climate change.' - Allan Jones MBE, Chief Executive Officer, London Climate Change Agency

'The great free thinker on energy systems.' - George Monbiot