Energy Revolution: The Physics and the Promise of Efficient Technologies
by Mara Prentiss, 2015
Written by a professor of physics at Harvard, this book goes headfirst into the physics of generating electricity. The present state of fossil fuel burning is compared to a future powered by renewables. Using back of the envelope math, the author shows that it would be possible to provide 100% of the U.S.’s average energy use from either wind or solar power. This includes the energy used in transportation. The difficulties arise in the intermittency of these resources. With vast advances in energy storage or electricity transmission (to create a larger network to pool active renewables), the future could be powered entirely by affordable renewable power. This blog post provides a version of that argument.
This book is interesting, but a harder read than most of the energy books I’ve read lately. It would have benefited from some more editing to fix the occasional typo and to strengthen and consolidate important sections. One thing I really like, however, is the fact that the arguments of the book are made actionable in Appendix C: “Recommended Steps toward a Renewable Future”.