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Understanding Energy and Energy Policy

Understanding Energy and Energy Policy

Timothy Braun | Lisa Glidden


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Activists, scientists and policymakers around the world have long argued that we need to find sustainable and secure solutions to the world's energy demands. At issue for citizens worldwide is whether we are scientifically literate enough to understand the potential policy choices before us. Understanding Energy and Energy Policy is a one-stop resource for understanding the complexities of energy policy and the science behind the utilization of energy sources. The multidisciplinary perspective presented in this book is necessary for readers to be able to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of potential energy policies. The book draws on case studies from the global North and South, from countries that are resource poor and resource rich, while providing explanations of the science and politics behind burning fossil fuels, and power created through nuclear energy, solar energy, geothermal energy, wind energy, biofuels and water.
Timothy F. Braun is an assistant professor of biological sciences at the State University of New York College at Oswego. Lisa M. Glidden is an associate professor of political science at the State University of New York College at Oswego.
'Climate change is the greatest challenge of our age and wide public discussion is needed to create support for the far reaching actions that will be needed to solve the problem. This detailed yet accessible book is essential reading for anyone who wants to gain an informed understanding of the energy sector in order to participate constructively in the debate.' Ian Tellam, director of Adaptify and research associate with Stockholm Environment Institute 'This book provides an excellent overview of the technical and political challenges associated with future energy supply. It offers a global perspective with some fascinating case studies and a nuanced debate regarding the pros and cons of alternative energy systems. A fantastic source book.' Karen Bickerstaff, University of Exeter 'Accessible, comprehensive, compelling! Braun and Glidden weave together the myriad threads of energy policy, setting them against the backdrop of mounting climate change and anchoring them in relevant national case studies. If education is the safeguard of democracy, this book offers not only a first-rate intellectual synthesis but also a vital political contribution.' Karen Litfin, University of Washington and author of Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
About the Authors i
Title Page iii
Copyright iv
Contents v
Figures and Tables vi
Abbreviations and Acronyms vii
Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
Global Energy Issues 3
0.1 Total energy consumption in quadrillion BTUs, with % of world consumption, 2010 4
0.2 Total energy consumption per capita in millions of BTUs, 2010 5
0.3 Energy intensity – total energy consumption per dollar of GDP, 2010 6
Table 0.1 Energy intensity and CO2 emissions from energy consumption 7
Table 0.2 France, final energy consumption by sector by energy source, 2010 8
Table 0.3 India, final energy consumption by sector by energy source, 2010 8
Consensus in Science and The Climate Change Debate 8
0.4 Flowchart of scientific method 9
Organization of This Book 11
1: Basic Energy and Policy Concepts 12
Sustainable Energy Systems 12
Thermodynamics 13
Types of Energy 16
Energy Density 16
Electricity Generation 17
Comparing Electricity Generation Sources 19
Table 1.1 Energy sources and their EROeIs 20
Table 1.2 Levelized cost of selected energy sources 21
Electricity Distribution Systems 21
1.1 The North American power grid – interconnects in the United States and Canada 25
Policymaking 29
Policymaking Tools 30
International Policy Drivers 31
Domestic Policy Drivers 33
Conclusion 37
2: Fossil Fuels\r 38
2.1 Hydrocarbon molecule, octane 38
Coal 39
Crude Oil 42
Peak Oil 44
The Structural Effects of Cheap Oil 45
Unconventional Oil and Hydraulic Fracturing 46
2.2 Overview of hydraulic fracturing 47
Natural Gas 50
Case Studies 51
China 51
The USA 52
Saudi Arabia 54
Russia 57
Conclusion 59
3: Nuclear Power\r 60
Atoms 61
3.1 Atomic diagram of carbon 62
Radioactive Atoms 62
Nuclear Fission Reactors 68
Radiation and Nuclear Waste 70
Table 3.1 Measuring radiation 71
3.2 Radiation effect models 75
Spent Nuclear Fuel 76
Nuclear Accidents 78
Future Reactor Designs 81
The Future of Nuclear Power 83
Nuclear Fusion Reactors 84
Case Studies 85
France 85
The United States 86
Japan 89
Conclusion 90
4: Biomass and Biofuels 92
Biomass 92
Biofuels 94
Food-Based Biofuels: Ethanol and Butanol 94
Non-Food-Based Biofuel: Cellulosic Ethanol 98
Biodiesel 99
Algae 100
Case Studies 100
Brazil 100
The European Union 102
The United States 103
Conclusion 105
5: Hydropower\r 106
Hydropower around the World 106
Dams and Reservoirs 108
The Other Hydropower: Tidal and Wave Power 110
Case Studies 112
Hydropower in China: The Three Gorges Mega-Dam 112
Transnational Issues 113
Conclusion 117
6: Wind Power\r 118
Intermittency and Dispatchability 120
Modern Wind Turbines 121
Placement of Wind Farms 122
Offshore Wind Farms 123
Small-Scale Wind Power 123
Case Studies 124
Denmark 124
The United States 127
Table 6.1 US installed wind capacity, by year 128
Conclusion 130
7: Geothermal Energy\r 132
Passive Geothermal 132
7.1 Geothermal heat pump schematic 133
Geothermal Electricity Production 135
Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS or Hot Dry Rock Geothermal) 136
Case Studies 139
Iceland 139
Turkey 140
Australia 142
8: Solar Energy 145
Passive Solar 145
Active Solar 147
Photovoltaics 147
8.1 Concentrating solar, with Stirling engine 148
8.2 Concentrating solar, with PV field 149
Concentrated Solar with Thermal Storage 151
8.3 Parabolic solar trough field 151
8.4 Parabolic solar trough 151
8.5 Power tower solar thermal plant 153
The Future of Solar Power 154
Case Studies 155
Germany 155
Kenya 158
9: Conclusion: Where Do We Go From Here? 162
Business as Usual 162
Climate Change in the Driver’s Seat 164
Pros and Cons of Various Electricity Generation Methods 165
Table 9.1 Comparison of different energy sources for electricity generation 167
Thinking Beyond Electricity 169
Transportation 169
Industry 171
Commercial/Residential 171
The Rosenfeld Curve, Jevons Paradox, and the Energy Efficiency Trap 172
Getting the Policy Right 173
Policy Recommendations 174
Conclusion 175
Appendix: Renewable Energy Support Policies 176
Notes 182
Introduction 182
1 Basic Energy and Policy Concepts 182
2 Fossil Fuels 182
3 Nuclear Power 183
5 Hydropower 183
6 Wind Power 183
7 Geothermal Energy 184
8 Solar Energy 184
9 Conclusion 184
Bibliography 185
Index 201