Howard Johnson, a chemical engineer, provides a comprehensive review of energy systems. He looks at the totality of energy sources, from animal dung to nuclear fusion, and examines the production, transmission, and use of energy, and the pros and cons of each.
The book is about ideas and solutions to our energy problems. “Any solution or group of solutions will be based on total energy systems. The systems involved include power-grid stations, transmission lines, fuel procurement and manufacture, waste disposal, local power generators, vehicles and vehicle power systems, transportation and distribution systems for fuels, and maintenance and repair facilities.”
Johnson laments that we don’t develop more of our own domestic resources. “America has a virtual sea of oil within its borders and around its shores. Thanks to what I believe to be misdirected effort to influence elected officials by some overzealous environmentalists, the most accessible of our known oil fields are off limits to American oil companies.” At the same time, he proposes to transition away from our use of fossil fuels for transportation and electrical power. This reduction in fossil fuel use is not because of any concern over carbon dioxide emissions, rather, Johnson resents our having to give our dollars to unfriendly or despotic foreign countries. He has a section devoted to the global warming issue.
To transition away from fossil fuels, Johnson advocates more use of biofuels, made from non-food sources, and use of geothermal energy. He explains each in detail.
Johnson has a chapter on politics and expresses some well-placed cynicism. “The reality of politics and political ideologies means that many politicians and bureaucrats, who know virtually nothing about energy, energy systems, and the economics of energy, will be making many of the decisions on what systems we use, the vehicles we drive, and how we create and pay for the new infrastructure.”
All in all, this book is a good primer for anyone wanting to learn about energy systems, their potentials and problems.