Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air

David J C Mackay  (2009)

A spectacularly well organised and revealing book. It pulls no punches in outlining the problem of (re)creating a sustainable energy sector.

We are taken through various chapters on modes of energy production and consumption, building a stack of quantities on each side. Then asked questions about how the resulting energy equation might be made to add up.

It means change. If we all do a little, the overall result is a little! And the conclusions are not pleasant for anyone concerned about energy security. Basically, there is no easy answer to maintaining (yet alone growing) global energy use.

Cutting consumption is clearly important, as is a mix of energy sources. Localisation will help in many ways (shortening supply/transport chains and reducing transmission losses for example)

Any book of this scope is bound to refer explicitly to the climate crisis in seeking low-carbon solutions, but it seems to me the author has been true to his intent of being apolitical. And objective. A scientific approach if you will.

The curious reader, wishing to gain a broad technical understanding of energy issues, will learn a great deal. And the depth of analysis in chapter notes and appendices suggest it will be an ideal textbook or sourcebook.