Energy, Lots of Energy
May 4, 2006 7:42 AM   Subscribe

If I wanted to learn all about the energy industy, what would be some good books and resources?

From listening to the Watt and reading the Energy Blog, I've gotten very interested in the energy industry, peak oil, and alternative energies. I'd love to read some really good or really important books on the topic. These can be general overviews or technical.

Also, any good free online materials are great, because, well, they're free.
posted by BigBrownBear to Education (8 answers total)
Go to the library and find "Coal: A Human History"—it follows coal production from its inception into the present day, explaining much of the current energy structure along the way. Coal is still incredibly important to U.S. energy production—that's why we have people like this dying to get it.
posted by limeonaire at 9:03 AM on May 4, 2006

This won't bear directly on your inquiry, except to illuminate how we got to where are today with oil, but Daniel Yergin's The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power is well regarded. (sorry 'bout that banner.) However, Yergin has some unorthodox views on peak oil.
posted by mojohand at 9:33 AM on May 4, 2006

For wind energy I'd recommend: Redlinger, R. Y., P. D. Andersen, et al. (2002). Wind Energy in the 21st Century: Economics, Policy, Technology, and the Changing Electricity Industry. Basingstoke, Palgrave. The first book I made the library buy when I started teaching renewable energy.

It's very good at summing up lots of stuff in clear language.

For a general introduction to renewable technology then the key text for our renewable energy undergraduates is Boyle's 'Renewable Energy'. By the same editor, there's 'Energy Systems and Sustainability' which focuses more on the political economy stuff rather than the how it works stuff.

I've had Hoffman on Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and the Prospects for a Cleaner Planet recommended to me but haven't read it myself.

On Solar Energy, Herman Scheer is a German politician who has written quite widely on the need to switch to a solar economy. You could try his 'Solar Economy' or 'A Solar Manifesto'.

A switch to higher levels of renewable energy will also require a reconsideration of how power networks operate. You might try 'Distributed Generation: The Power Paradigm for the New Millennium' for some insight into this. (Not read it myself.)

It's also worth noting that you can get lots of very decent stuff online at no charge (as opposed to the large amount you might have to pony up for some of these books). Just google for renewable energy.

Some good sites: Danish wind turbine manufacturers (the best general intro to wind power on the web).

The American Solar Energy Society.
posted by biffa at 9:54 AM on May 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

Paul Mobbs Energy Beyond Oil is without doubt the best book I have read on the subject, having read ... most of them. It does have a UK perspective, but is still an excellent introduction. What separates it from others is its unsensational treatment of a sensational subject. All of its sources are available here. Heinberg's The Party's Over is also good and offers a more U.S oriented view. Kunstler's The Long Emergency is OK, but I find his bile gets in the way of the subject too often. Wolf at the Door and DieOff are good websites.
posted by falcon at 10:26 AM on May 4, 2006

Vaclav Smil, Energy at the Crossroads
posted by nickmark at 11:55 AM on May 4, 2006

Coal: A Human History really blew my mind, really shows you how the concept of energy as a world-building power evolved. , and how our dependence on coal is growing, not lessening, because of this tradition.
posted by hermitosis at 1:13 PM on May 4, 2006

Petroleum Refining in Nontechical Language does a good job of covering the oil refining process.
posted by bajema at 3:10 PM on May 4, 2006

Response by poster: Wow. thanks for the wide range of suggestions. Looks like I have a good reading list. Thanks, guys.
posted by BigBrownBear at 4:49 PM on May 4, 2006

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