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FREEING ENERGY

HOW INNOVATORS ARE USING LOCAL-SCALE SOLAR AND BATTERIES TO DISRUPT THE GLOBAL ENERGY INDUSTRY FROM THE OUTSIDE IN

A passionate, valuable, and detailed blueprint for remaking the shape of everyday energy production.

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An energy book discusses the many possible alternatives to fossil fuels.

At its heart, Nussey’s wide-ranging work on the renewable and alternative energy possibilities is about disruption—of the status quo and the complacency of the fossil fuel industry. He cites a well-known series of such disruptions even from comparatively recent technological history: The internet decimated newspapers; email and services like FedEx largely replaced snail mail as a means of communication and delivery; electric lights displaced gas lamps; and so on. “In each case, existing market structures were upended,” the author writes. “Enormous new companies emerged as incumbents became less relevant.” His book presents a wide array of possible disruptors to those existing market structures, fuels like “green hydrogen” and of course the ubiquitous “super-abundant electricity” designed to free millions of people living without access to cheap, easy energy. Nussey refers to this group of alternative sources as “fuels 2.0,” and he stresses that he’s talking about local energy: individuals, communities, and area businesses finally taking control of “one of the most essential parts of our lives—energy.” This small-scale, local focus stands in contrast to the current situation, where, as the author points out, energy is exclusively controlled. In most parts of the world, electricity services are monopolies, with only one company allowed to sell kilowatt hours. “With no competition,” he writes, “innovation is stifled and often non-existent.” Hence, the disruption represented by rooftop solar panels and “microgrids.”

Nussey writes engagingly, and he’s strongest in the most crucial element of a book like this: lucidly and vigorously explaining the science and technology behind fuels 2.0. He’s interviewed many key players in the potential energy revolution, which he characterizes as both top-down and bottom-up: “The power industry is slowly (very slowly) shedding its roots as a fuel-driven, asset heavy, top-down business into something that is increasingly defined by the economics of technology.” He’s clear that one of the key aspects of that revolution is the refinement and widespread deployment of batteries and storage systems for the power generated by renewables. Batteries and storage systems are going to be a core part of the future of electric power, he writes, “be it a grid-scale wind farm, a community solar project, a solar rooftop, or a tiny system that can power a few LED lights in Africa after the sun goes down.” The author is passionate in advocating for change, but he’s also unfailingly realistic. Skeptics wary of overly idealistic daydreaming on the subject of clean energy will find Nussey a doggedly cleareyed guide to what he rightly calls “the treacherous divide between wild-goose-chases and billion-dollar opportunities.” He tackles the implementation of these alternatives on every level of manufacture and production, and his emphasis on individual options will deeply engage readers who feel trapped on the treadmill of big energy.

A passionate, valuable, and detailed blueprint for remaking the shape of everyday energy production.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7325446-3-5

Page Count: 380

Publisher: Mountain Ambler Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2021

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THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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THE CULTURE MAP

BREAKING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES OF GLOBAL BUSINESS

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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