Monday, June 30, 2008

Green Your Place In the New Energy Revolution by Jane Hoffman and Michael Hoffman-- Review

Green Your Place In The New Energy Revolution by Jane Hoffman and Michael Hoffman is a primer on alternative energy. The book starts with reasons you should go green; pollution, dwindling energy resources, political instability, and changes to a healthier lifestyle.

The book describes the present state of renewable energy focusing first on sources of energy that are not renewable. Coal, nuclear, oil and natural gas are compared to renewables. The author correctly points out that although there is talk about carbon sequestration, but no research money has actually been spent on creating the process.

The book then focuses on the state of renewable energy. It describes the different types of renewables, wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, and biomass energy. Wind is pointed out to be the most successful form of renewable energy currently. There is some brief talk on new concepts in solar energy like solar towers.

Then the author switches to describing biofuels. As part of this discussion he describes how a hydrogen infrastructure is not possible to build until at least fifteen years in the future. Ethanol and biodiesel are the only two currently available biomass fuels. This is a little bit wrong. Biobutanol is another option which could have been described. I like the extensive description of biofuels in Brazil. The authors even give several suggestions on how the Brazilian model could be extended to the United States.

After the forms of energy are described, methods of encouraging renewable energy are suggested. This includes definitions, RECs, (renewable energy credits), carbon cap and trade systems, and carbon offset taxes. The language makes these ideas which are very complex easy to understand.

Finally some new technologies are suggested. The jatropha plant which can be used for biodiesel is described, and the plasma converter for waste is also explained. This book misses the boat on wave energy converters. It doesn't talk about them at all.

Then the book puts renewable energy in a global perspective. China has already put over $8 billion dollars a year into renewable energy. They are very serious about developing a renewable infrastructure. India also has an extensive renewable energy infrastructure.

The final chapter is a series of recommendations for renewable energy. They are very lightweight. Institute higher standards for gas mileage, conserve energy at home and buy green appliances, and invest in a wide variety of renewables.

This is a solid primer on renewable energy. It covers all the basics in clean, understandable language. The book is not very controversial. It is meant for the mainstream reader. It is not very preachy. This book would be a good introduction for the sceptic or the person who was just starting to be interested in the subject. There is a short index in the back as well as a set of notes on the chapters. The book is a quick read.

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