Mitigating climate change while also meeting world needs for increased access to energy will require an energy revolution. More rapid deployment of existing renewable energy technologies will help, but new energy generation, transmission, and storage technologies will also be needed. The article urges the application of sustainable development principles to guide this revolution. From three sources of sustainable development theory it identifies four illustrative criteria for a sustainable development approach to energy technology deployment and innovation: holistic analysis, equity, adaptability, and multi–level governance. These criteria are applied to major energy technology pathways, and differentiated for developing and developed countries. The implicit sustainable development trade–offs are examined; the governance of research and financing for intensive energy technology innovation is also addressed.
Keywords: sustainable development, sustainability, ecosystem services, social–ecological resilience, energy technology, technology R&, D, research and development, equity, adaptability, multi–level governance, holistic analysis, grid, wind power, solar photovoltaics, SPV, wind energy, solar power, solar energy, climate change, technology innovation