Sustainable Energy - Without The Hot Air

I was recommended this book while being slaughtered in an argument about climate change and renewable energy. I was expounding the ‘green new deal’ idea, where the state could invest in wind power and other renewables while the recession is on and unemployment high. My opponent responded that wind power was not sufficient to meet our needs. Now, I’d heard it said that meeting our energy requirements with wind power would require covering most of the British Isles in wind generators, but this nay-saying had been shoved into the back of my mind. However, I had no figures to defend my position with, so the discussion moved on to other things.

 

This book is about finding a sustainable energy plan that adds up. Resource by resource, and energy use by energy use, you are led through clear and fairly simple calculations to find how large each component is, with the aim of building up a renewable energy ‘stack’ of 125kWh per day per person (which is the current UK consumption that the book uses). Ballpark figures of feasible resource utilisation are used for the renewable energy sources. For example, the figure for on-shore wind was calculated as 20kWh per person per day, which was using typical wind farm densities, covering the windiest 10% of the UK. The shallow offshore wind figure was calculated by covering a third of all shallow UK waters with wind farms.

Some results that jumped out at me were the greatly improved efficiency of electrified transport (including electric cars), and the use of heat pumps in homes which resulted in greater efficiency than Combined Heat and Power, without locking heating infrastructure into the use of fossil fuels or biomass.

The entire book is available to download as a pdf. There is also a 10-page synopsis which contains much of the juiciest stuff:

http://www.withouthotair.com

Sustainable energy - without the hot air was written in 2008 by David J C McKay, professor of Natural Philosophy at the department of Physics at Cambridge University. He was appointed ´╗┐chief scientific adviser to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change in October 2009.

Comments

Re: Sustainable Energy - Without The Hot Air

By TomM

Anonymous wrote:

Leaving a pause after publishing this book, the devious ruling class bastard has revealed his true colours; he is a Nuclear lobbyist. The analysis in his book can be used to demonstrate that if society used less energy we could live with 100% renewables, but as a powerful government advisor, Mackay has now come out against these changes and in favour of Nuclear. This was soon followed by the news that the government intend to leave Nuclear waste in landfills in working class areas, and not in Professor Mackay's garden.

'... can be used to demonstrate that if society used less energy we could live with 100% renewables'

An obviously true but useless statement. The point of the book was to make an energy budget that adds up. Which parts of our energy usage should be cut? Will that reduce energy use enough to allow 100% renewables to supply our needs?

Energy Choices Re: Sustainable Energy - Without The Hot Air

By green syndicalist

If its the same book put out on IMC england in last year or so, its v interesting with lots of figures, BUT it advocates incinerators without taking into account manufacturing or recycling figures & importantly health & safety. Most waste burnt in incinerators if sorted can be used, some people are sorting & fireproofing plastic unrecycleable waste for loft insulation, recycle rest at kerbside,about 1-3%of all "waste" goes in the dirty bin for landfill or small scale incineration.

Also I think it looks favourably on nuclear without adding in the security costs, please correct me if Iam wrong, my browser & software wont allow me to confirm this right now  & doesnt look into solar from N. Africa or Gulf which has massive potential. large metal solar arrays basically centring the sun on boiler tanks, then piping it around the N. Africa,arabia & med+ potentially further.

Netherlands companies have just come up with figures showing offshore wind facilities pay back the installation&building energy in 3 months!!,would add link, but softwares crippled,please scroogle it

 

Also plenty of tidal & wave projects are happening, including a large rig UK just sold to either spain or portugal

 

If I needed a job&I lived in scotland or almost anywhere in UK, I would get a access climbing course & apply for a wind job asap

Energy Choices Re: Sustainable Energy - Without The Hot Air

By bunny

Although I like this book and think it is a good starting point, I think it is mistaken in parts, that may seem alluring at first but are mistaken.
I have previously put together a blog post with some energy links including Sustainable Energy - Without The Hot Air and some commentary on it.

Re: Sustainable Energy - Without The Hot Air

By Anonymous

Renewables can provide for all our energy needs. We're not robots; we don't actually need electricity. Electricity is desirable so it should be generated. Our current consumption in privaliged states and the current consumption of the rich are higher than is sustainable or equal.

http://toonclimatecamp.blogspot.com/2009/09/review-sustainable-energy-wi...

Review: Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air
David Mackay of The Royal Society (bastards) has produced an excellent guide to balancing State energy budgets. It is online; http://www.withouthotair.com/; and printed as a Creative Common. It includes The energy cost of “defence”; a rare and important attempt at a fully referenced quantification of military consumption. He welcomes new information for future editions. It would be interesting to see consumption plotted against class.
Leaving a pause after publishing this book, the devious ruling class bastard has revealed his true colours; he is a Nuclear lobbyist. The analysis in his book can be used to demonstrate that if society used less energy we could live with 100% renewables, but as a powerful government advisor, Mackay has now come out against these changes and in favour of Nuclear. This was soon followed by the news that the government intend to leave Nuclear waste in landfills in working class areas, and not in Professor Mackay's garden.

Re: Sustainable Energy - Without The Hot Air

By Anonymous

TomM wrote:
Anonymous wrote:

Leaving a pause after publishing this book, the devious ruling class bastard has revealed his true colours; he is a Nuclear lobbyist. The analysis in his book can be used to demonstrate that if society used less energy we could live with 100% renewables, but as a powerful government advisor, Mackay has now come out against these changes and in favour of Nuclear. This was soon followed by the news that the government intend to leave Nuclear waste in landfills in working class areas, and not in Professor Mackay's garden.

'... can be used to demonstrate that if society used less energy we could live with 100% renewables'

An obviously true but useless statement. The point of the book was to make an energy budget that adds up. Which parts of our energy usage should be cut? Will that reduce energy use enough to allow 100% renewables to supply our needs?

Tom, if you look at Mackies energy stack:

http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/c18/page_103.shtml

It's clear that the stack would add up if some of the energy uses were removed, eg "jet flights" and "war". I would want to not use the maximum possible amount of renewables. As an anti-imperialistt, I think the use of African PV in Europe is not acceptable. The amount of "stuff" imported from China should also be reduced. It is the capitalist system that needs to be defeated if consumption is not to continue to increasing. Freedom and Equality are the solution.