MacKay doesn’t like big numbers, he likes small ones that we can get our heads round. “Simplification”, he says, “is a key to understanding.” If you’re concerned about your personal finances, or energy security or climate change, and you want to cut down on your use of fossil fuels, “Sustainable Energy—Without the Hot Air” explains which actions make a significant difference and which make very little. The Economist described the book as “exemplary” and the place to start “for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the real problems involved”.MacKay doesn’t consider changes in attitude, only in energy sources. He crunches the numbers on wind, solar heating, solar photovoltaics, biomass, hydro, tide, waves and geothermal and shows how massive each would need to be if, added together, they were to meet current demand. He factors in public consultation (our national tendency to say no) and decides about a seventh of our needs could be met through renewables. We can’t do it alone. “Europe needs nuclear power, or solar power in other people’s deserts, or both.” For Britain, that area in someone else’s desert would have to be the size of Wales.(read more..)
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