Friday, 16 January 2009

Sustainable Energy - without the hot air

This book is available to download free of charge at

Here's a review by Dave Howey of Imperial College:

"'Sustainable Energy - without the hot air' by David JC MacKay. There are many books available about sustainable energy, but this book is unique and interesting for a few reasons. Firstly, it is available to download in its entirety for free online at the author's website Secondly, it is written by a physics professor at Cambridge University who has carefully and laboriously assembled the evidence to show just how serious our energy problem is (with a particular focus on the UK), but also precisely what could actually be done about it. By allowing the physical limitations to speak for themselves, MacKay produces some conclusions along the way that may surprise some. For example, he discusses why heat pumps are a much better option than combined heat and power (CHP) for heating our buildings, why electric vehicles make sense (but hydrogen is a bit of a red-herring), and why biofuels for transport do not add up in the UK. It is a coherent, witty, thorough and best of all hopeful review of future energy options."
(Thanks to HEDON for the story)


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately despite being a physicist McKay doesn't seem to understand thermodynamics or engineering properly, hence he comes out with the incredibly naive comment that heat pumps do better than CHP which would surprise most consulting engineers.

But no doubt he is on a par with DECC officials and tells them exactly what they want to hear


Mike Pepler said...

But at least a heat pump can run on electricity from renewable sources (if they're built...), while a CHP is stuck with burning fossil fuel, and in the UK that's progressively more imported than indigenous.