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The title and description of this book are both misleading. Given the content of the book, it should have been titled "A case for Nuclear and Hydrogen" as this is not a book about renewable energy alternatives- it is a case for moving to a Nuclear and Hydrogen based economy. In the book the author systematically dismisses (repeatedly) all forms of renewable energy except perhaps geothermal. He then goes on the say that Nuclear based electricity used to create hydrogen are the only 'serious' options available and that we should stop work in renewable energy (except large scale geothermal) and focus all efforts on building nuclear plants and a hydrogen infrastructure.
He repeatedly talks about the 'cost of energy today' as if it is a valid baseline. Given peak oil and the massive external costs (pollution, global warming) and subsidies given to fossil fuels, the baseline price paid per kilowatt hour or gallon of gas are not nearly reflective of the real costs.
Some of his criticisms of renewables are that they would require storage and grid upgrades, however he never discusses the possible use of renewables to actually create hydrogen, only focusing on using nuclear to create hydrogen. He's dismissive of issues with nuclear safety and radioactive waste and spends no time talking about potential unintended consequences of hydrogen.
One of the touted benefits of the futuristic US hydrogen economy is that the hydrogen supply—in the form of water—is virtually limitless. This assumption is taken for granted so much that no major study has fully considered just how much water a sustainable hydrogen economy would need. Less than 3% of the worlds water is fresh water and that amount of usable fresh water is in decline. Additionally, we go to where we are with fossil fuels based on faulty assumptions of relatively limitless supplies and no lasting environmental impacts. Do we really want to bet the farm on using water? It might be a good answer, but it needs better big picture analysis.
Other than sunlight, the earth is a closed loop system and any proposal to have an energy enconomy based on extraction (uranium and water) vs. actual renewables needs a much larger look at the big picture so that we don't trade one economic, geopolitical, environmental problem for another based solely on the energy density equation.
Finally, if Nuclear and Hydrogen were such no-brainers, then people would be heavily investing in them today. No nuclear plants will be built without government support and no insurers will insure them for potential problems in the future - so any safety issues will be born by the taxpayer both for the plant safety and the safety of radioactive wastes. Without factoring in these costs and risks the nuclear 'cost effectiveness' assertion is highly suspect.
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Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
This is a great book for people who want to round out their perspective on renewable energy. It points out the uses and problems with those technologies. It also takes a shot at fossil fuels and their attempts to be viewed as green (ex. carbon dioxide sequestration). It makes the very important point that adopting renewable energy will take a lot of time and be expensive. It will also require significant innovation.There's a valuable discussion on a way to reach a hydrogen economy in a way that is more direct, through the use of nuclear energy. The arguments are compelling and deserve consideration whether you might agree with them or not.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Renewable Energy?
I felt that the novel presentation on a nuclear path to energy independence and a hydrogen economy was intriguing and thought provoking. The message was along the lines of go nuclear in order to go green.
Any additional comments?
It's worth a read for anyone who feels that energy independence is important. It also points out savings along the way, an aspect that can be very important given the looming financial crisis and national debt. The author suggests some places and ways to cut expenses. You need to have an interest in renewable energy to get through this book and the data in it, but if you fall in that group of people then this is a great read and reference.