January 29, 2006

BOOK: Energy Power Shift by Barry J. Hanson

This book is perfect for anyone who reads this blog. I would almost say it is mandatory reading for anyone seriously seeking to develop a reasoned opinion on renewable energy issues. And it is surprisingly easy to read in spite of the technical subject matter.

The author, "Barry Hanson brings to the renewable energy discussion a broad understanding of energy with a formal education in chemistry and work experieence as a project manager with several consulting mechanical engineering firms designing large commercial and industrial HVAC systems. Mr. Hanson was introduced to the political realities of energy issues as a citizen lobbyist and activist on behalf of environmental causes in Minnesota and Wisconsin." He wrote the book because he recognized that there was very little information in print on the latest emerging renewable energy technologies.

The scope of the book includes not only a discussion of basic energy concepts and breakthrough technologies (stay tuned for future updates), but also discussions about how energy is acquired, how much is wasted, how much do we really need, how much do we have, and the economic strategies necessary to get there.

He contends "The U.S. has five times more renewable energy than it needs and ten times as much available money from sources where it is already misallocated. In addition, a renewable energy economy would avoid $750 billion per year in waste and unnecessary expense such as the trade deficit for oil ($206 B) and subsidies to oil/gas nuclear corporations." His figures do not rely on a hydrogen energy solution. He believes that we have more than enough energy available in the U.S. to establish and maintain a renewable energy future at a significant savings economically, environmentally, and especially politically. He projects 6.5 million new jobs, a clean environment, energy independence, and true national security.

What I particularly like about the book:
• The simple graphic presentation of quantified data.
• The extensive footnoting and bibliography.
• The segmented URL listing of internet resources.
• The glossary of terms.

What is missing is a discussion of ethanol and ethanol production processes. He talks in depth about Thermal Conversion Process (TCP) as developed by Changing World Technologies, Inc. and "fast pyrolysis". But he gives no mention to syngas fermentation, enzymatic hydrolysis, or even sugar fermentation - for which there are over 85 production plants in the country producing 2% of U.S. liquid fuel requirements.

The author has promised me that new technologies, including syngas fermentation, will be included in a future edition. Meanwhile, get this book. It asks many of the right questions, provides a valuable perspective on renewable energy, and provides a wealth of information and references.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This book is a 'Must Read'. I bought 10 copies and distributed them at christmastime to family and friends. I've read a lot of books on similar subjects ("The Long Emergency", "The End of Oil", "Powerdown", etc, but this one spells out actual solutions to our energy quagmires. The clear diagrams and consistent facts would make GWB's head spin, since this obviously is not the "fuzzy math" that he is used to. Maybe he'll wait for the animated short version of the book.