Energy at the End of the World

Latest news

Available now as hardbook or ebook from your local bookshop or online from Hive, Amazon, Blackwells, and retailers worldwide. For full details on where to buy see the MIT Press Book website.

For publicity and review enquires please contact Katie Stileman, MIT Press Global Publicity.

About the Book

Energy at the End of the World: an Orkney Islands Saga tells the story of how these islands are making their own energy future, from marine energy to hydrogen fuel, at what some see as the edge of the world.

“Mixing storytelling and ethnography, empiricism and lyricism, Watts tells an Orkney energy saga—an account of how the islands are creating their own low-carbon future, in the face of the seemingly impossible. The Orkney Islands, Watts shows, are playing a long game, making energy futures for another six thousand years.”

Read an extract from the book… about the wandering monster who haunts the islands…

Book Donation

This book has been a decade in the making, and is an ongoing collaboration with innumerable friends and colleagues in Orkney, without whom this book would not be possible. Author royalties will be donated to THAW Orkney, the charity working to assist fuel poor households in the islands.



Every book conjures a playlist. This one is inspired by the book, its seascape, archaeology, and futures… Listen to the Spotify playlist…


Or cheering from the side-lines by wonderful colleagues

“An enormously creative, richly told story of how energy infrastructures are being remade by everyday people in a remote place.” – Phoebe Sengers

“Energy at the End of the World is exceptionally ambitious, forming an almost entirely new genre.” – Teun Zuiderent-Jerak

“Elegy and analysis, ethnography and manifesto: the result is a rare glimpse of what can be achieved with committed transdisciplinary inspiration and rigor.” – Andy Stirling

“a must-read poetic musing for researchers and designers engaged in the mundane practices of everyday future making in any nook of the world.” – Pelle Ehn

“an enthralling introduction to the unique socioenvironment of Orkney and the making of energy on these islands.” – Pippa Goldschmidt

Reviews & Comments

Engineering & Technology IET Magazine Book Review

The Ecologist ‘Energy Islands penalised for becoming too clean’ Book Review

Nature “The history of distant worlds, a clear eye on renewables and environmental lessons from a tiger’s tale: Books in brief”

The Observer (The Guardian) “How Orkney leads the way for sustainable energy”

Forbes “These islands are leading the drive for hydrogen energy”

World Economic Forum, Davos 2019 “These tiny Scottish islands are a renewable energy powerhouse” (short film) – also covered by Leonardo DiCaprio’s instagram

LitHub “Deep Time and an Uncertain Future on the Orkney Islands”

MIT Press Blog “Light and life in the energy future”

The Orkney News ‘Orkney Energy Futures’ review of the Book Launch, Stromness.


RNZ (Radio New Zealand) Sunday Morning “Orkney’s sustainability revolution” (radio)

France24 Live TV Interview ‘Perspectives’ – Orkney: A renewable energy revolution (television)

Radio Orkney, Tullimentan interview (radio)