The promise of green jobs and a clean energy future has roused the masses. But as Robert Bryce makes clear in this provocative book, that vision needs a major re-vision. We cannot - and will not - quit using carbon-based fuels at any time in the near future for a simple reason: they provide the horsepower that we crave. The hard reality is that oil, coal, and natural gas are here to stay. Fueling our society requires more than sentiment and rhetoric; we need to make good decisions and smart investments based on facts.
In Power Hungry, Bryce provides a supertanker-load of facts while shepherding listeners through basic physics and math. And with the help of a panoply of vivid graphics and tables, he crushes a phalanx of energy myths, showing why renewables are not green, carbon capture and sequestration won't work, and even - surprise! - that the U.S. is leading the world in energy efficiency. He also charts the amazing growth of the fuels of the future: natural gas and nuclear. Power Hungry delivers a clear-eyed view of what America has in the tank, and what's needed to transform the gargantuan global energy sector.
©2010 Robert Bryce (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
“Capably argued… advocates of renewable energy should familiarize themselves with the book, since oil, gas and coal lobbyists surely will.” (Kirkus Reviews)
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
This author tries very hard to express the stark realities of the energy issues facing the US and the world. He tries to cut through the hype regarding most green technologies and present the current realities. This involves a lot of numbers and predictions that are not the most fun to listen to.
The author’s main point is, given the expected world energy needs, the only viable primary source of energy is NtoN (Natural Gas transitioning to Nuclear). He gives detailed analysis of each alternative and demonstrates, while each may have a place, none of the alternatives, individually or in combination, can come close to meeting the enormous expected energy demands as the third world rushes to first world energy use.
The author tries to be careful with numbers but minorly cuts corners in favor of fossil fuels and does not do so for alternatives (except Nuclear). For Nuclear, the author does not fairly address the real safety concerns from spent fuel to melt downs.
The author does not, but should have, addressed fairly how unexpected and transformative new technologies like fusion, new energy storage technologies, new energy transmission technologies, or radical energy production or saving technologies might have on his assumptions. If history is any guide the unexpected will likely make a huge different in our energy outlook.
Occasionally the author is a snarky about people he disagrees with (which the narrator expresses quite well). I really dislike such snarkiness in a persuasive piece; more so when I agree with the author.
With all my nits, I would recommend this book to anyone who really wants to understand the energy issues we will face in the future. If you think a transition or solar and wind is currently reasonable, you should definitely read this book then run the numbers for yourself in Excel
Working in the renewable energy field, I had a lot of questions on the "math of energy", and how to separate the fact from legend. I enjoyed this book from start to finish, although I had to go to the hard-copy occasionally when the facts & figures got to dense to absorb. The conclusion that "renewable energy" is not energy dense enough to replace coal/gas/oil, and that our future is is gas & nuclear makes mathematical sense, but left me feeling uneasy, with nuclear's cost & proliferation downside.Nothing comes without costs, I guess.
An excellent book hat makes one think about who or what really controls the fate of the U.S. economy, air quality and the future of electrical power generation. We as citizens of the U. S. and the world need to wake up to the facts as presented in this book. Mr. Bryce has turned my head around and I think he (Bryce) makes A LOT of sense.
Be warned; there loads of facts and comparative figures that it takes some time to absorb but the points are well presented.
Ax Norman does an excellent job with the narration
The only thing to add to the reviews here…Bryce cuts right to the chase. I usually can tell when the author puts his or her “unbiased” spin on material…but I have to give it to Bryce…I think he made genuine efforts to remain neutral, and provide real world solutions.
I have built many a “green” building…so much brown, black, and gray went into the construction…not to mention the exuberant costs!!...the only “green” on the job…went into the pockets of the engineers!! “Green” is now just propaganda…well intentioned…but we don’t have the technology to build “green” and cost effective.
Yes, there are a LOT of numbers, however this does not take away from the enlightening facts presented. I was completely ignorant to the fact that wind generators required a backup form of energy, making them far less efficient than everyone claims.
ZEN. LDS. GTD. FTW.
If the author had been more honest about the subject, I would've given it a better rating.
The distortion of facts. Robert uses facts that support his argument for shale gas etc but doesn't bother to counter-balance them with facts that refute his claims.
Ax Norman's narration was fine, and suited to the material.
I would have added truth, something that had already been cut from the book.
Check out the KunstlerCast and the podcast episode about alternative fuels like shale gas.
I liken Bryce's selective interpretation of evidence on green energy to Dick Cheney's conclusion that Iraq had WMD.
The end of the book
Disbelief that a so called 'expert" could focus on one factor, energy density, as the most important factor of power generation. It's like saying I won't eat a whole apple because I can take a multivitamin. It's nonsense.
Robert Bryce should stop writing books.
"Disappointing, smoke and mirrors"
The author sets out what could be extremely important arguments. However, about a fifth into the book even though he states clearly that he has no bias, his proofs don't seem to follow. In fact the strongest argument that he has is that, "it's cheaper not to change and that change is unobtainable so why bother". His compares apples and pears and says, "see it doesn't match". All I can say is disappointing
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