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Sustainable Energy

Sustainable Energy: Choosing Among Options

Jefferson W. Tester
Elisabeth M. Drake
Michael J. Driscoll
Michael W. Golay
William A. Peters
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 2
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 1056
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  • Book Info
    Sustainable Energy
    Book Description:

    Human survival depends on a continuing supply of energy, but the need for ever-increasing amounts of it poses a dilemma: How can we find energy sources that are sustainable and ways to convert and utilize energy that are more efficient? This widely used textbook is designed for advanced undergraduate and graduate students as well as others who have an interest in exploring energy resource options and technologies with a view toward achieving sustainability on local, national, and global scales. It clearly presents the tradeoffs and uncertainties inherent in evaluating and choosing sound energy portfolios and provides a framework for assessing policy solutions.The second edition examines the broader aspects of energy use, including resource estimation, environmental effects, and economic evaluations; reviews the main energy sources of today and tomorrow, from fossil fuels and nuclear power to biomass, hydropower, and solar energy; treats energy carriers and energy storage, transmission, and distribution; addresses end-use patterns in the transportation, industrial, and building sectors; and considers synergistic complex systems. This new edition also offers updated statistical data and references; a new chapter on the complex interactions among energy, water, and land use; expanded coverage of renewable energy; and new color illustrations. Sustainable Energy addresses the challenges of making responsible energy choices for a more sustainable future.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-30556-3
    Subjects: Physics, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xviii)
  3. Preface to the First Edition
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  4. Acknowledgments from the First Edition
    (pp. xxiii-xxvi)
  5. Preface to the Second Edition
    (pp. xxvii-xxviii)
  6. Acknowledgments for the Second Edition
    (pp. xxix-xxx)
    The authors
  7. 1 Sustainable Energy: The Engine of Sustainable Development
    (pp. 1-50)

    Energy is one of the essential needs of a functioning society. The scale of its use is closely associated with its capabilities and the quality of life that its members experience. The quality of life enjoyed by the developed nations today is due in large part to the availability of plentiful and affordable fossil fuels over the last century. Energy is an integral part of global commerce and its use has expanded rapidly as both population and per capita consumption have grown. Concerns about the sustainability of present energy-use practices are now arising in several areas: the rapid depletion of...

  8. 2 Estimation and Evaluation of Energy Resources
    (pp. 51-106)

    This chapter focuses on the varieties and quantities of energy resources that are potentially available for human use: fossil fuels, nuclear fuels, and various types of renewable energy sources. Later chapters will address the spectrum of impacts that are associated with our prodigious energy use; here, we look at the types of primary sources of energy in present use, those that may come into use over the next few decades, and the stocks of these resources that could be commercially developed in the future.

    Since any discussion of energy resources requires quantification and comparisons across all types of primary energy...

  9. 3 Technical Performance: Allowability, Efficiency, Production Rates
    (pp. 107-160)

    To achieve sustainable energy, we must make informed choices among competing policies and technologies. Ideally, options will be selected because their behavior fulfills enough expectations of enough stakeholders to create a broad consensus. Besides the obvious requirement of technical feasibility, economic viability has been the nonnegotiable requirement for widespread adoption of a given energy technology. To be considered sustainable, an energy technology must fulfill additional performance standards related to the longer-term public good. These standards include preservation of natural resources, extension of economic opportunity, and protection of the environment. In this chapter, we will consider basic analytical tools for gauging...

  10. 4 Local, Regional, and Global Environmental Effects of Energy
    (pp. 161-248)

    Every step in the production, modification, and use of energy interacts with the environment and, consequently, modifies the earth and its inhabitants (figure 4.1). The resulting changes may be small or large, short-lived, long-lasting, or cumulative, beneficial or dangerous, by whatever environmental impact metric is most appropriate — e.g., lbs of pollutant, adverse human health impacts, loss of open space, or net damage/benefit costs (chapters 1, 5, 6). The interplay of energy with the earth and its ecological systems is typically categorized in terms of the various tangible products of energy operations that flow into and potentially harm the environment. Energy...

  11. 5 Project Economic Evaluation
    (pp. 249-292)

    Bankruptcy is the antithesis of sustainability. As with all other business ventures, energy projects are undertaken in the expectation of profit, and alternatives are ranked in order of preference according to this criterion. While formal analysis of project viability predates the Industrial Revolution, methods have evolved significantly in scope and sophistication ever since. Notably, over the past several decades, increased attention has been paid to quantification ofexternalities, which are those costs incurred by society at large, or indeed by nature itself, as opposed to the conventional project costs and revenues actually appearing on the books of the firm engaged...

  12. 6 Energy Systems and Sustainability Metrics
    (pp. 293-332)

    Energy is integrated into every aspect of human activity. In fact, the energy sector has played a vital role in the industrial and economic development of all of the major nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) from at least the start of the Industrial Revolution. Rapid industrialization and urbanization have been accompanied by major improvements in the standard of living and human health, but also by appreciable acceleration in population growth. There were 0.6 billion people in 1700, double this number by 1850, and double again by 1950. World population now is over 7 billion and...

  13. 7 Energy, Water, and Land Use
    (pp. 333-372)

    This book is about energy and major trends that may impact global sustainability and energy use choices for the future. But energy and its increasing consumption (due to global population growth and increases in the standard of living) is only one of the major issues that impact sustainability. The list is long—fresh water is certainly another one, as are pollution, depletion of important resources for future generations, food supplies, health, biodiversity, societal stability, economics, and so on. In considering energy choices for the future, it is essential to look carefully for interactions that extend beyond the energy sector. Energy...

  14. 8 Fossil Fuels and Fossil Energy
    (pp. 373-446)

    Coal, natural gas, and petroleum are called fossil fuels because they are the remains of prehistoric plants and animals that have been subjected to millennia of geologic processes. These remains have formed large deposits that are retrievable by humans and can release energy when burned. Most fuels release their energy by reacting with a separate substance (theoxidant), but there are cases (e.g., the explosive TNT) where the oxidant is actually part of the fuel itself. Thus, all fossil fuels are storehouses of chemical potential energy. Under the right circumstances (i.e., by chemical reaction with an appropriate oxidant), this chemical...

  15. 9 Nuclear Power
    (pp. 447-502)

    The world is composed of atomic nuclei and their electron clouds. Since the Big Bang, many of the naturally occurring nuclei have been unstable, undergoing transformations to more stable forms, and emitting particles and energy in the process. The time scales of these transitions are nuclei-dependent and can range from nanoseconds to billions of years. The naturally occurring emissions of these transitions have created a consistent radioactive environment in which all biological organisms have evolved. As time has passed, the overall level of radioactivity has consistently decreased, but it has always been with us and it always will be.


  16. 10 Biomass Energy
    (pp. 503-544)

    In the study of sustainable energy, we define “biomass” as all living plant matter as well as organic wastes derived from plants, humans, marine life, and animals. Trees, grasses, animal dung, sewage, garbage, wood construction residues, and other components of municipal solid waste are all examples of biomass. Ancient biomass is a major component of fossil fuels, but those are covered in chapter 8; this chapter deals with recently living biomass that exists near the earth’s surface.

    In the past, biomass was the primary source of fuel for the world. As the Industrial Revolution progressed in Europe, forests were severely...

  17. 11 Geothermal Energy
    (pp. 545-618)

    In general terms, geothermal energy consists of the thermal energy stored in the earth’s crust.¹ Practically speaking, the exact specification of a geothermal resource depends in part on the specific application or energy service that is provided. Thermal energy in the earth is distributed between the constituent host rock and the natural fluids that are contained in fractures and pores at temperatures above some specified reference temperature which is often selected at ambient levels. These fluids are mostly water with varying amounts of dissolved salts. Typically, in their naturalin situstate, they are present as a liquid or supercritical...

  18. 12 Hydropower
    (pp. 619-644)

    Hydropower is a renewable energy resource resulting from the stored energy in water that flows from a higher to a lower elevation under the influence of the earth’s gravitational field. Ultimately, hydropower is connected to solar energy and the natural hydrologic cycle of evaporating water from lakes and oceans redeposited as rain or snow. Water flowing in rivers from upstream regions above sea level toward the oceans is continuously converting part of its potential energy into kinetic energy associated with the flow velocity. Such energy exchange creates opportunities for hydropower either by converting the stored potential energy contained by a...

  19. 13 Solar Energy
    (pp. 645-696)

    Throughout human history, solar energy has been utilized for domestic use in heating and cooking. The Anasazi Indian tribes of the American Southwest were perhaps the first in North America to employ passive solar energy in their dwellings. The Greeks and Romans documented their use of solar power in Europe over two millennia ago. In the early eighteenth century, specific solar technologies were introduced to concentrate the sun’s energy and put it to use in high-temperature processes. The development of a 1,700°C solar furnace by Lavoisier in the mid-1700s is an excellent early example of human progress in harnessing solar...

  20. 14 Ocean Wave, Tide, Current, and Thermal Energy Conversion
    (pp. 697-720)

    The awesome power of ocean waves and the relentless tides makes them obvious candidates for anyone’s list of potential natural energy sources, while the more subtle observation that surface water is warmer than the briny deep tempts only those with some exposure to thermodynamics and the concept of heat engines. We can also point to a history of past development and recent applications in each area (see table 14.1), and perhaps through them come to some understanding as to why more widespread deployment has not yet occurred. We can also draw informed conclusions about whether they can eventually compete with...

  21. 15 Wind Energy
    (pp. 721-756)

    Wind energy has taken a commanding lead among renewable sources, and is the centerpiece of most environmentally oriented proposals for aggressive expansion of electric energy supplies (Brown, 2008). As of 2008, wind projects made up about 80% of US renewable energy projects. Several large industrial suppliers worldwide are competing vigorously for new business, and a high rate of growth (~25%/yr) has been in evidence since 2000, with the result that installed capacity worldwide exceeded 100 gigawatts in early 2008 (17 in the US).

    DOE (2008) is an excellent review and assessment of future prospects: it is recommended reading, and available...

  22. 16 Energy Carriers: Electric Power, Hydrogen Fuel, Other?
    (pp. 757-798)

    What is an energy carrier? Many things carry energy—the Niagara River approaching the Falls, natural gas entering a furnace or turbine, or solar radiation warming us on a sunny day. But these are all natural forms of energy that humans have learned to utilize for many useful purposes. When we convert energy from one form to another for purposes of convenience to meet some desired end use, we can consider the intermediate energy form to be acarrier.

    Chapters 8 through 15 describe a variety of primary energy sources and the conversion equipment that is needed to convert the...

  23. 17 Energy Management: Storage, Transportation, and Distribution
    (pp. 799-864)

    The primary energy sources and technologies now widely used to meet societal energy demands have been described in the preceding chapters, along with their costs and associated impacts. Alternative technologies that may have lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or other less problematic side effects have also been described, along with their pros and cons. As humanity starts to respond to concerns about climate change, modifications in energy production systems are being driven through policy initiatives and technological innovations. Because our energy appetites are so large, changing these large-scale systems to other energy sources with different characteristics presents major challenges. Society...

  24. 18 Transportation Services
    (pp. 865-906)

    Urban planners use systems models to develop transportation systems that maximize “mobility” at reasonable cost. Transport needs depend strongly on population distributions and on people’s commuting, shopping, recreational, educational, and other travel patterns, as well as freight-distribution patterns. Theoretically, cities might be designed so that housing, jobs, and recreation could be sited in the same general location to minimize travel needs. But in developed countries, society is fairly affluent and mobile, so the use of the personal automobile to travel significant distances on a routine basis is pervasive.

    However, urban transportation has historically been plagued with problems of congestion, pollution,...

  25. 19 Industrial Energy Usage
    (pp. 907-926)

    Since the Industrial Revolution, there has been continual technological change, which has brought many advantages as well as problems. Initially, progress was slow, and small industrial activities were located near suitable sources of materials and energy. Pollution resulting from these activities was also localized, and accidents associated with early machinery and chemical processes were usually on a fairly small scale. As industries grew, they learned how to avoid the most severe problems and to improve competitiveness and efficiency. As noted in chapter 6, along with industrialization came a better standard of living, improved human health, urbanization, and population increases. In...

  26. 20 Commercial and Residential Buildings
    (pp. 927-952)

    After water and food, shelter is the most important human need. In many parts of the world today, people live in caves or in simple mud or thatch huts, heating and cooking on open fires with fumes exhausted through a roof hole. In contrast, the population of the developed world is accustomed to comfortable homes and workplaces with climate conditioning and a variety of electrical devices that provide light, comfort, task assistance, and entertainment. In Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, about one-third of total energy and more than one-half of electricity is consumed by the building sector....

  27. 21 Synergistic Complex Systems
    (pp. 953-996)

    The choices people make about energy use are guided not only by technological performance but also by economics, local availability, convenience, customs, and cultural preferences. We each make choices when we purchase or use almost anything, and the companies that provide our utility services also make choices on the supply side. Figure 21.1 illustrates the complexity of the energy picture.

    Historically, our society has developed energy choices based on local conditions and economics. The availability of new and inexpensive energy has been an engine of industrialization. The steam engine was critical to the early stages of industrial development, and the...

  28. 22 Choosing among Options
    (pp. 997-1000)

    This chapter brings to a close our journey to investigate and understand sustainable energy. Along the way, we examined renewable energy sources, conservation, and efficiency. We also looked at nonrenewable energy sources (fossil-fuel and nuclear energy, for example), even though some view these as unsustainable.

    This book provides no simple road map to guide the reader to a sustainable global energy economy, nor does it advocate a particular suite of energy technologies or policies. Instead, we have tried to help readers discover the core tenets of sustainable practices, and we have tried to encourage readers to use these tenets to...

  29. Conversion Factors
    (pp. 1001-1004)
  30. List of Acronyms
    (pp. 1005-1010)
  31. Index
    (pp. 1011-1020)
  32. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)