Charging Ahead

Overview

Charging Ahead foretells the world's next great energy transformation: the shift to clean, renewable energy sources. It shows how renewable energy, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles, when used together, can give us back a clean environment and create a healthy, sustainable economy.
In chronicling this extraordinary technological revolution, John J. Berger provides a fascinating look at the new industries that will make it possible, and the trillion-dollar benefits ...

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Overview

Charging Ahead foretells the world's next great energy transformation: the shift to clean, renewable energy sources. It shows how renewable energy, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles, when used together, can give us back a clean environment and create a healthy, sustainable economy.
In chronicling this extraordinary technological revolution, John J. Berger provides a fascinating look at the new industries that will make it possible, and the trillion-dollar benefits Americans can enjoy by choosing pollution-free energy and transportation.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Widespread use of renewable energy (e.g., wind power) is coming; the only question is how long it will take to get here. Berger (Restoring the Earth) argues persuasively that at present, the limiting factor is political rather than technological. Huge governmental subsidies for the oil, coal and nuclear industries, coupled with massive environmental costs paid by society rather than users, make it difficult for renewable energy sources to gain a major foothold. But even so, he explains, each year an increasing percentage of the world's energy supply arises from non-polluting renewables. Berger focuses on the promises offered by four alternative energy technologiessolar power, wind power, bioenergy and geothermal energyas well as on energy conservation strategies, with solar energy and electric cars drawing the bulk of his attention. At times encyclopedic, his book is an amalgam of telling insights into the leaders of upstart companies and the problems they face plus detailed descriptions of apparatuses that only a techie could love. Photos. Rights (except electronic): Virginia Barber. (May)
Kirkus Reviews
A broad survey of renewable-energy technologies, and a reasoned call for their increased use.

Berger (Restoring the Earth, 1985), who describes himself as a "technological optimist," sounds an already well-aired alarm: that America's dependence on fossil fuels, many imported, is a recipe for financial and ecological disaster. Holding that free markets in the $505 billion domestic energy economy are a myth and that "government involvement in energy is profound and unavoidable," he calls for an active program of federal investment in renewable energy so that the country can be energy-independent in a generation or two. Among the alternative technologies he examines at length, solar power emerges as the leading contender to replace much current oil use; although, as he says, many critics consider solar power to be an "heirloom of the 1970s, a pet technology for environmentalists," it has also matured considerably, so that solar panels that cost $1,000 a watt three decades ago are now down to $4, holding the promise of cheap and abundant energy. Berger looks into a host of other technologies, among them wind, biomass, and geothermal energy, and a number of intriguing alternative-fuel sources, especially ethanol made from kenaf, a bamboolike grass. Technologically adept readers will appreciate Berger's precise attention to detail, as when he considers recent advances in miniaturizing solar cells, but those without some background in engineering may find parts of the narrative tough going. Even so, all readers should appreciate Berger's call to raise our awareness of energy needs and uses—even if they shudder at his suggestion that federal gasoline taxes be raised to spur the development of alternative energy.

Berger's no-stone-unturned approach makes his book a valuable reference for soft-path advocates.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520216143
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 9/20/1998
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 424
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

John J. Berger writes and teaches on energy and natural resource issues and is a consultant on environmental science and policy. He is the author of books on nuclear and renewable energy and is the editor of Environmental Restoration: Science and Strategies for Restoring the Earth (1990).

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction
1 The Uphill Struggle 3
2 Today's Energy Follies 9
3 The Energy-Climate Connection 13
4 Answers from the Desert 23
5 Crystal Power 48
6 A Nuclear Graveyard 59
7 A Passion for Silicon 65
8 Solar Cells and Taco Bells 75
9 Smart Solar Cells 89
10 Thin Films 97
11 Pretty Poly 110
12 Solar Skins 122
13 Wind: A Crash Course 137
14 The Nickel Machine 149
15 The Culture of Survivors 161
16 Another Kind of Wind Company 171
17 Europe Races Ahead 182
18 Biofuels and Plant Power 191
19 A Biomass Business 210
20 Geothermal's Rocky Road 219
21 Efficiency: The Sleeping Giant 243
22 Miniaturizing Energy Demands 258
23 Electric Vehicles: Have Battery, Will Travel 271
24 Hypercars - and Hype about Cars 295
25 Getting to a Renewable Future 313
Appendix Resource Directory 333
Notes 355
Sources 381
Acknowledgments 385
Index 391
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