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The world turned upside down

What will the end of the world’s dependence on oil mean for geopolitics?

In the plains of Andalusia, just outside Seville, a giant tower stands bathed in a supernatural glow. This futuristic spectacle is a solar power station generating enough electricity to power a town - by day and, extraordinarily, by night. It is just one part of a technological movement with revolutionary political consequences.

For more than a century, the world has revolved around fossil fuels. Wars have been fought over them. The nations that had oil and gas had power. They controlled the price, they controlled the supply and could tell their customers what to do. And all because some fluke of geography blessed them with deep reserves of black stuff, and left other nations with none.

What will happen as countries around the world develop enough renewable energy to end their dependence on hydrocarbons? How long will the transition take? Will the powerful oil and gas producers in the Middle East reform in time or will their economies implode, leaving failed states, regional conflict and more migration? How will Russia respond if Europe no longer needs so much of its gas? And which countries will be the new energy super powers? Who will control resources like lithium and cobalt that will be needed for new high tech batteries? Where will the new geopolitical tensions lie? Above all, who will call the shots in this new renewable world order? The energy revolution is coming, and it could change our world forever.

(Photo: Tower of a solar plant, Seville, Spain. Credit: Felipe Rodriguez/VWPics/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)

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53 minutes

Last on

Sat 4 Jan 2020 04:06GMT

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