Renewable Energy: A First Course

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Renewable energy has great significance for the world’s future, given the environmental issues related to energy generation and energy’s importance in our society. Making wise energy choices is not easy, however. It involves balanced consideration of economic, environmental, technical, political, and other perspectives to weigh the relative costs and benefits for a host of possible technologies. Renewable Energy: A First Course is an accessible textbook for science and engineering students who want a well-balanced introduction to the science, technologies, economics, and policies related to energy choices.

How Does Renewable Energy Work? Science, Technologies, Economics, and Key Policy Issues

The book delves into all forms of renewable energy, from biofuels and geothermal energy to wind, hydro, and solar power. It also discusses nuclear power and fossil fuels, allowing readers to compare and evaluate the advantages and shortcomings of renewable energy. In addition, the book explores four overarching topics that go beyond a specific type of energy, namely, energy conservation, energy storage, energy transmission, and energy policy, and examines the important issue of climate change.

A Broad Introduction for Science and Engineering Students

Requiring only a basic background in physics and calculus, the book avoids technical jargon and advanced mathematical approaches to focus on the basic principles of renewable energy. Throughout, a wealth of illustrations and real-world examples make the concepts more concrete. Designed for a one- or two-semester course, this book takes a broad approach that addresses the need for diversity in any nation’s energy portfolio.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Professor Ehrlich has succeeded in writing a clear, relevant and well-organized book that is very close to a perfect fit for the kind of course I want to teach. This text provides a nice balance between discussing the applied physical principles in energy production and describing state-of-the art technology in the energy field. The text is very clear and readable, and I found the problem sets to be excellent learning tools."
—Professor John Smedley, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine, USA

"Ehrlich’s readable style withhumoroustouches keeps the reader engaged. I can see this book as being a well-thumbed text by a wide spectrum of science students and others involved in learning about the central importance of energy security for societies. I strongly recommend Renewable Energy: A First Course for advanced level or introductory level graduate students and teachers or lecturers of these courses"
— Alexander Waller, CBiol MSB

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439861158
  • Publisher: CRC Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2013
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 1,043,742
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Ehrlich is a professor of physics at George Mason University. He earned his B.S. in physics from Brooklyn College and his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society. He formerly chaired the physics departments at George Mason University and SUNY New Paltz and has taught physics for nearly four decades. Dr. Ehrlich is an elementary particle physicist and has worked in a number of other areas as well. He has authored or edited 20 books and about 100 journal articles. His current scholarly interests include renewable energy and the existence of faster-than-light particles.

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Table of Contents

Why Another Book on Energy?
Why Is Energy So Important to Society?
Exactly What Is Energy?
Might There Be Some New Forms of Energy Not Yet Known?
What Are the Units of Energy?
Laws of Thermodynamics
What Is an Energy Source?
What Exactly Is the World’s Energy Problem?
How Is Green or Renewable Energy Defined?
Why Has Renewable Energy and Conservation Been Neglected Until Fairly Recently?
Does Energy Efficiency Really Matter?
Which Renewable Energy Sources Hold the Greatest Promise?
Who Are the World Leaders in Renewable Energy?
What Is Our Likely Energy Future?
Complexities in Charting the Best Course for the Future

Fossil Fuels
Petroleum and Natural Gas

Nuclear Power: Basic Science
Early Years
Discovery of the Atomic Nucleus
Mathematical Details of the Rutherford Scattering Experiment
Composition and Structure of the Atom and Its Nucleus
Nuclear Radii
Nuclear Forces
Ionizing Radiation and Nuclear Transformations
Nuclear Mass and Energy
Nuclear Binding Energy
Energy Released in Nuclear Fusion
Mechanics of Nuclear Fission
Mechanics of Nuclear Fusion
Radioactive Decay Law
Health Physics
Radiation Detectors
Radiation Sources
Impacts of Radiation on Humans

Nuclear Power: Technology
Early History
Critical Mass
Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Proliferation
World’s First Nuclear Reactor
Nuclear Reactors of Generations I and II
Existing Reactor Types
Reactor Accidents
Front End of the Fuel Cycle: Obtaining the Raw Material
Back End of the Fuel Cycle: Nuclear Waste
Economics of Large-Scale Nuclear Power
Small Modular Reactors
Nuclear Fusion Reactors

Biofuel Classifications
Other Uses of Biofuels and Social–Environmental Impacts
Artificial Photosynthesis

Geothermal Energy
Introduction and Why Geothermal Is Important
Geophysics of the Earth’s Interior
Thermal Gradient
Characterization and Relative
Abundance of the Resource
Geothermal Electricity Power Plants
Residential and Commercial Geothermal Heating
Sustainability of Geothermal
Environmental Impacts
Economics of Geothermal Electricity

Wind Power
Introduction and Historical Uses
Wind Characteristics and Resources
Power Transfer to a Turbine
Turbine Types and Terms
Controlling and Optimizing Wind Turbine Performance
Electrical Aspects and Grid Integration
Small Wind
Offshore Wind
Environmental Impacts
Unusual Designs and Applications

Introduction to Hydropower
Wave, Tidal, and Ocean Thermal Power Resources
Introduction to Tidal Power and the Cause of the Tides
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion
Social and Environmental Impacts of Hydropower

Solar Radiation and Earth’s Climate
Electromagnetic Radiation
Types of Spectra
Apparent Motion of the Sun in the Sky
Availability of Solar Radiation on Earth
Optimum Collector Orientation and Tilt
Greenhouse Effect

Solar Thermal
Solar Water-Heating Systems
Flat-Plate Collectors
Evacuated Collectors
Collector and System Efficiency
Thermal Losses in Pipes
Water Tanks and Thermal Capacitance
Passive Solar Hot Water System
Swimming Pool Heating
Space Heating and Cooling
Three Applications Well Suited to Developing Nations
Electricity Generation
Appendix: Four Heat Transfer Mechanisms

Conductors, Insulators, and Semiconductors
Increasing the Conductivity of Semiconductors through Doping
pn Junction
Generic Photovoltaic Cell
Electrical Properties of a Solar Cell
Efficiency of Solar Cells and Solar Systems
Efficiency of Solar Systems
Grid Connection and Inverters
Other Types of Solar Cells
Environmental Issues
Appendix: Basic Quantum Mechanics and the Formation of Energy Bands

Energy Conservation and Efficiency
Factors Besides Efficiency Influencing Energy-Related Choices
Lowest of the Low Hanging Fruit
Obstacles to Efficiency and Conservation
Is Energy Efficiency and Conservation Ultimately Futile?

Energy Storage and Transmission
Energy Storage
Energy Transmission

Climate and Energy: Policy, Politics, and Public Opinion
How Important Are International Agreements?
What Are the Top-Three GHG Emitters Doing?
How Much Time Does the World Have to Move Away from Fossil Fuels?
How Has Public Opinion Evolved?
Best Way Forward?
Some Concluding Thoughts

Appendix: Answers to Even-Numbered Problems


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