Energy can be neither created nor destroyed—but it can be wasted. The United States wastes two-thirds of its energy, including 80 percent of the energy used in transportation. So the nation has a tremendous opportunity to develop a sensible energy policy based on benefits and costs. But to do that we need facts—not hyperbole, not wishful thinking. Mara Prentiss presents and interprets political and technical information from government reports and press releases, as well as fundamental scientific laws, to advance a bold claim: wind and solar power could generate 100 percent of the United States’ average total energy demand for the foreseeable future, even without waste reduction.
To meet the actual rather than the average demand, significant technological and political hurdles must be overcome. Still, a U.S. energy economy based entirely on wind, solar, hydroelectricity, and biofuels is within reach. The transition to renewables will benefit from new technologies that decrease energy consumption without lifestyle sacrifices, including energy optimization from interconnected smart devices and waste reduction from use of LED lights, regenerative brakes, and electric cars. Many countries cannot obtain sufficient renewable energy within their borders, Prentiss notes, but U.S. conversion to a 100 percent renewable energy economy would, by itself, significantly reduce the global impact of fossil fuel consumption.
Enhanced by full-color visualizations of key concepts and data, Energy Revolution answers one of the century’s most crucial questions: How can we get smarter about producing and distributing, using and conserving, energy?
In this crisp, evidence-based treatise, physicist Mara Prentiss makes a remarkable assertion: that solar and wind power could supply 100% of average U.S. energy needs for the next 50 years. Prentiss argues that a transition to renewables is probable, given that energy revolutions are a historical norm. She stacks up reams of salient data, such as the fact that U.S. energy use per capita has remained steady since 1965, thanks to increasing fuel efficiency. Although optimistic, her analyses of energy sources, combinations, conservation and storage compel.
A surprisingly optimistic analysis of the world’s unsustainable, wasteful energy consumption… In a genre rife with forecasts of doom and exhortations in favor of frugal living, Prentiss provides impressive evidence that things may work out just fine.
[Prentiss] steers a steady course between the wishful thinking and despair that so often colors discussions of energy. Carefully optimistic, the author thinks a combination of renewable power sources could meet 100 percent of the U.S. average total energy demand for the foreseeable future, even without waste reduction… Delightful, deadpan flashes of wit enliven the text throughout… Readers looking for answers on the feasibility of renewables will find the straight talk refreshing.
In this important book, Mara Prentiss brings basic physics to bear on the critical issue of how we produce and consume energy. Using extensive and illuminating graphics to augment her clear writing, she provides a reason for optimism about the role of renewables in our energy future.
With all the justified excitement around the fracking revolution it’s crucial not to lose sight of the ultimate importance of renewables and energy efficiency. Mara Prentiss has written a highly valuable, scientifically grounded guide to the great things that are possible in both these spheres.
- 352 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
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