Renewable | Book Review

Renewable, The World-changing Power of Alternative Energy. By Jeremy Shere. And a coffee cup.

Green energy is one of the most fun and interesting topics for me: The underdog that has so much innovation to it boiling under the surface that anything can happen with the right mix of new technology and the right scale. “Renewable” by Jeremy Shere is taking us through the growing landscape of alternative energies from the big sources: Wind, sun, ethanol, water and earth (yes, really!).

“Like many nontechnical writers and journalists, I had (and still have) only a passing familiarity with the worlds of big business and manufacturing. In the course of writing this book I got a taste of these worlds, visiting dozens of factories, labs and other industrial spaces” – Jeremy Shere

Jeremy Shere takes us into the macro-scale of whats going on in the environment conscious energy-world – The giant wind farms, the dozen-acre wide farms producing crops that will turn into green gas and the solar panel-filled fields. This is a world many read and discuss about but rarely engage with in any meaningful way, unless its a product they can drive. Its very few who consider adjusting personal consumption and production, which puts the pressure on industry and producers of alternative electricity to lead the way in a top-down fashion.

“Renewable” is a behind the scenes snapshot of sorts of what the inventors, lab technicians and up-and-comers are doing to inch out the use of fossil fuels (nuclear power isn’t covered much at all, sadly) and comes with a complementary look in the rear view mirror of what has been done, historically, with what we today call green energy sources.

The diverse historical look on the energy technology is well presented within the book and gives Renewable a natural flow of going from “where we were” to “where we are”. Everything from windmills of Persia and Carters white house solar panels to Fords hunt for green gas in Florida to Mouchot’s sun boxes gets to be part of the narrative of the book, leaning more on modern (1800 and forward) times than ancient times.

In present time (or, rather, the books present time, 2010-2012) we get to tag along as Mr. Shere goes to different spots around the United states where there is something to write on the topic of the book and as he interview various people in the blooming industry.

“There are pipes and tubes and giant boilers and massive generators and machines of all kinds working full blast, 24 hours a day. Its impossible to spend a day inside a coal power plant and not come away impressed by the sheer, raw power of the thing” – Jeremy Shere

The book is written in a fairly neutral tone and takes the realistic route rather than giving in to the utopia-trap that many other books on this topic offers up. Written in a manner that scratches the surface, but doesn’t get itself lost in number crunching or over-the-top navel gazing. Everything is kept light and reader-friendly. Its a great overview for the casually interested, but not nearly deep enough for the ones that are more detail-hungry.

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One comment

  1. I have had solar panels on my roof for a couple of years now. When I asked about a battery to store excess energy I learned Con Edison doesn’t allow it. My excess is distributed to other houses in the neighborhood.


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