Roger Duncan is a former Research Fellow at the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the former General Manager of Austin Energy, the municipal electric utility for Austin, Texas. Prior to that, he served as executive manager for several City of Austin departments, including the Environmental and Conservation Services department and Planning and Transportation. Roger was also elected to two terms as Austin City Council member in the early 1980’s. In 2005, Business Week magazine recognized Roger as one of the 20 leading “carbon reducers” in the world, and in 2009 National Geographic recognized him as an international thought leader in energy efficiency.

Dr. Michael E. Webber serves as the Chief Science and Technology Officer at ENGIE, a global energy & infrastructure services company. Webber is also the Josey Centennial Professor in Energy Resources at the University of Texas at Austin. Webber’s expertise spans research and education at the convergence of engineering, policy, and commercialization on topics related to innovation, energy, and the environment. His latest book, Power Trip: the Story of Energy, was published in 2019 by Basic Books with a 6-part companion series on PBS. His first book, Thirst for Power: Energy, Water and Human Survival, which addresses the connection between earth’s most valuable resources and offers a hopeful approach toward a sustainable future, was published in 2016 by Yale Press and was converted into a documentary.  He was selected as a Fellow of American Society of Mechanical Engineers and as a member of the 4th class of the Presidential Leadership Scholars, a leadership training program organized by Presidents George W. Bush and William J. Clinton. Webber has authored more than 400 publications, holds 6 patents, and serves on the advisory board for Scientific American. Webber holds a B.S. and B.A. from UT Austin, and M.S. and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Stanford University.  


Most people at some time or another have fantasized about stepping into the future, if only for a moment. Anyone who grew up watching The Jetsons knows the feeling. Would there be flying cars? Would buildings be sleek, “smart,” and clean, or would they be just one more dysfunctional component of a decaying infrastructure? Would there be robots everywhere? Would life be peaceful or conflict-ridden? Star Trek or The Terminator?

This book is our effort to describe the energy future. It presents our vision for buildings, transportation systems, and the electric grid.

These three sectors—buildings, transportation, and the generation of electricity—account for more than 75% of the total energy consumed in the US, and the same is generally true worldwide. Although agriculture and industry are also important energy consumers, most types of energy conversions take place in these three sectors, making them useful lenses into the future. Moreover, we believe that the increasing interconnections of energy and information in these sectors present a fascinating story about our future. In the future, buildings and vehicles may evolve into sentient-appearing machines. We will be living, working and moving about inside robots.


  • How does the coronavirus pandemic impact our transition to a sustainable, renewable energy-based economy?
  • What do you mean when you say that in the future we will be living, working and moving about inside robots?
  • Ways energy is changing and how it is interconnected with everything in our society
  • Specific ways that energy is evolving and how this will affect our future
  • What are the effects on energy consumption as a result of the pandemic?
  • Tips for policymakers and planners to prepare for the future
  • When are we going to get flying cars?
  • What will change as a result of covid19? 
    • Sales of electric vehicles
    • Solar, wind and natural gas growth
    • Oil prices and consumption


 “Offers deeper insight into the previous and current evolution of technology in the building, transportation, and energy sectors. The narrative’s beauty is in the condensed but highly informative overviews and accessible prose, making it lively and interesting to lay readers.” RECOMMENDED, The US Review of Books

“A solid and cleareyed look at developments in building, transportation, and energy technology.” – Kirkus Reviews

“An impressively comprehensive analysis of what is both possible and practical for future buildings, energy systems, and modes of transportation, with an eye toward sustainability and global warming.” – BlueInk Review (Starred Review)

“An intimate union of research and experience.” Online Book Club Reviews

“A fascinating, highly educational tour of the ideas and technologies that will power the future.” Peter Fox-Penner,  energy expert, author of Smart Power and Power After Carbon

“Respected energy veterans Roger Duncan and Michael Webber offer a provocative vision of how buildings, transports, and electricity may meld with efficiency, information, and innovation to create more—or, if we choose unwisely, less—than the sum of their interactive parts. Whether or not you agree, this readable treatment helps frame the forces shaping the modern energy revolution.” –  Amory B. Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute

“What started as a brainstorming session between two thoughtful energy experts and grew over years of nurturing, polishing, challenging and reassessing, has finally emerged as an insightful book that will challenge and transform your thinking about how we use energy today and in the future. It is a clear-eyed look at megatrends swirling around us, trends that are so large they can be hard to understand.” Russell Gold, Senior Reporter, The Wall Street Journal and Author, Superpower and The Boom