Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air

Written by: David MacKay (University of Cambridge)

The approach of this sustainable energy textbook is to dig down to the real numbers of the various technologies being discussed. In the author’s own words, “the aim is to guide the reader around the claptrap to actions that really make a difference and to policies that add up.”

David MacKay FRS, a Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Cambridge, offers a honest assessment of what energy sources are truly sustainable and which ones may offer little more than snake oil. This online textbook uses simple language, charts and diagrams to explain the science and make this a work readable by all students; not just the science majors.

The author speaks in plain language and that appears to include using colloquiums and phrases commonly used in England. Among the numerous translations, someone has taken the time to explain British “English” expressions into “Americanisms.”

I. Numbers, Not Adjectives
1. Motivations
2. The balance sheet
3. Cars
4. Wind
5. Planes
6. Solar
7. Heating and cooling
8. Hydroelectricity
9. Light
10. Offshore wind
11. Gadgets
12. Wave
13. Food and farming
14. Tide
15. Stuff
16. Geothermal
17. Public services
18. Can we live on renewables?
II. Making a Difference
19. Every BIG helps
20. Better transport
21. Smarter heating
22. Efficient electricity use
23. Sustainable fossil fuels?
24. Nuclear?
25. Living on other countries’ renewables?
26. Fluctuations and storage
27. Five energy plans for Britain
28. Putting costs in perspective
29. What to do now
30. Energy plans for Europe, America, and the World
31. The last thing we should talk about
32. Saying yes
III. Technical Chapters
A. Cars II
B. Wind II
C. Planes II
D. Solar II
E. Heating II
F. Waves II
G. Tide II
H. Stuff II
IV. Useful Data
I. Quick reference
J. Populations and areas
K. UK energy history
Power and carbon translation tables

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Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air

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