University of Cambridge > > ELCF - Engineering for a Low Carbon Future (seminar series) > Can we live on renewables?

Can we live on renewables?

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  • How easy is it to get off our fossil fuel habit?
  • How does our current energy consumption compare with our sustainable energy options?
  • What do the fundamental limits of physics say about sustainable energy?

Assuming no economic constraints, assuming we cover the country with windmills and the coast with wave-machines, every roof with solar panels and every field with energy crops, could Britain get enough power from renewables to continue our current consumption?

David MacKay obtained his PhD in Computation and Neural Systems at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include reliable computation with unreliable hardware, and communication systems for the disabled. He’s written a textbook on ‘Information Theory, Inference, and Learning Algorithms’ (2003, Cambridge). He’s currently writing another free book on `Sustainable Energy – without the hot air.’ (

This talk is part of the ELCF - Engineering for a Low Carbon Future (seminar series) series.

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