Energy policy and production isn’t considered a hot topic for conversations at parties, but as the authors of this book on alternative energy—a companion to their previous book on fossil fuels—would argue, maybe it should be.
As with the previous volume, Janardhan and Fesmire create a high-level overview of energy policies and technologies. This time they focus on alternative energy production, which includes “green” methods such as wind, solar and tidal energy as well as nuclear power. However, as none of these methods except nuclear currently represent a sizable percentage of U.S. power generation, the focus in this volume is more on the technologies involved and various programs used to encourage research and investment. In addition, the authors also devote a substantial number of pages to discussing conservation, efficiency and the different infrastructure issues that stand in the way of adopting other methods, such as the need for more and higher-capacity transmission lines. Despite the numerous issues at play, many of which would require in-depth education and experience to understand fully, the authors manage to distill the essential concepts into easily understandable chunks and explain those concepts in a conversational, playful way that is high on wit and low on snark. While many of the pop culture references will date fairly quickly—some already have—the authors resist the urge to make the writing impenetrable to later generations by using context and a light touch that keeps their prose from being too firmly rooted in the present. Clear explanations, a thoughtful overview of many issues and a carefully modulated authorial voice work together to keep reader interest from flagging. The result is a second volume that works as well as the first in presenting relevant information on energy issues succinctly and well.
An easy-to-understand guide for those interested in alternative energy.