Most of the energy currently used in the world derives from fossil fuels that, for their very nature, are a finite resource. Sun and wind, water and biomass, tides and terrestrial heat, on the other hand, are all inexhaustible and renewable sources of energy. Moreover, technologies for the exploitation of these energy sources entail a very limited impact on humans and the environment; such sources represent the only option available for coping with the greenhouse effect caused by the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. These are the topics of this volume, in which the author, a major expert in the field, explains what renewable energy sources are, describes the technologies that allow men to exploit them, outlines their costs and environmental effects, and, finally, discusses the national and international economic policies concerning their use.
Pietro Menna is currently responsible for solar energy activities at the European Commission's General Directorate for Energy and Transportation.