Book description

Many people wonder: Are we really running out of oil, or is it all a ruse to drive prices up? Is nuclear power safe and economical? Is solar energy really the key to providing plenty of carbon-free energy? Do we have enough natural gas or coal to make any loss of oil production irrelevant?

In Power Plays: Energy Options in the Age of Peak Oil, energy expert Robert Rapier helps readers sort through energy hype, doom and gloom, and misinformation to understand what really matters in energy, and how it impacts individuals, investors, businesspeople, and policy makers worldwide. The book covers the overall global energy situation, the particular risks for the U.S. with its present energy mix, the energy outlook for the developed world and emerging economies like China and India, what peak oil really means, and the present and likely future of natural gas, coal, oil, nuclear power, and alternative energy sources.

The book also addresses common misconceptions. For instance, most readers are likely unaware that the U.S. is the third-largest oil producer in the world. Or that Canada leads the U.S. in per capita oil consumption. It will also highlight interesting facts—for example, China has solved part of its energy challenge by mandating solar hot water systems in all new construction. Most importantly, the book will provide specific energy insights unavailable elsewhere and help individuals and business planners chart future actions and decisions.

With the disaster at Fukushima, the discovery of the Marcellus shale natural gas deposits, the increasing efficiency of solar electricity installations, and the unsustainable supply of oil, the energy outlook has changed greatly over the last couple of years. What's now required is just what this book delivers: a sober, even-handed account of our energy resources, present and future, that will help people plan for a world without cheap energy.

What you'll learn

  • Why oil prices have increased so dramatically over the past decade, and the impact of depending on oil imports

  • What peak oil really means, and how it will affect you

  • The economics of various energy sources and the probable changes in supply, demand, and hence price

  • Why carbon emissions are likely to continue to rise

  • The implications of the shale gas revolution on U.S. energy supplies

  • The pros and cons of nuclear power and coal-fired generating plants

  • Why alternative energy sources aren't yet ready to solve our energy challenges

  • How to make better energy-related decisions

Who this book is for

This book is for anyone who wants to enhance their basic understanding of energy and learn to separate facts from misinformation. The book will also help readers to understand the costs, benefits, and inherent trade-offs for each of our major energy options, making it particularly useful for business strategists, policy makers, public servants, and investors.

Table of contents

  1. Title
  2. Dedication
  3. Contents
  4. About the Author
  5. Acknowledgments
  6. Preface
  7. Chapter 1: All About Energy, Dependence and Disconnect
    1. The Perfect Drug?
    2. Energy and the Global Economy
    3. Energy and Politics
    4. Energy and You
    5. Energy Misconceptions
    6. Why You Should Care
    7. References
  8. Chapter 2: Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power, Powering Modern Civilization
    1. Forms of Energy
    2. Nonrenewable Primary Energy Sources
    3. Summary
    4. References
  9. Chapter 3: Renewable Energy, Energy of the Past and the Future
    1. Transition to Sustainability
    2. Renewable Primary Energy Sources
    3. Summary
    4. References
  10. Chapter 4: Energy Production, From the Source to the Consumer
    1. Coal Production
    2. Oil Production and Refining
    3. Natural Gas Production
    4. Summary
    5. References
  11. Chapter 5: Global Warming, How Do You Stop a Hurricane?
    1. What Is Global Warming?
    2. The Controversy
    3. Understanding the Skepticism
    4. Obstacles to Action
    5. Case Study: United States
    6. Emerging CO2 Emitters
    7. Emissions and GDP
    8. Mitigation Options
    9. Summary
    10. References
  12. Chapter 6: Peak Oil, Myth or Threat to Civilization?
    1. What Is Peak Oil?
    2. The Scientific Study of Peak Oil
    3. Peak Oil Consequences
    4. “Peak Lite”
    5. The Long Recession
    6. Peak Oil Misconceptions
    7. Peak Oil Criticisms
    8. Summary
    9. References
  13. Chapter 7: Nuclear Power, Practical Solution or Environmental Disaster?
    1. A Nuclear Renaissance
    2. Assessing Risk
    3. Disaster and Aftermath in Japan
    4. Renaissance Interrupted
    5. Why the World “Needs” Nuclear Power
    6. The Path Forward
    7. Summary
    8. References
  14. Chapter 8: Risk and Uncertainty, Energy Security Challenges
    1. OPEC
    2. Developing Countries
    3. Declining EROEI
    4. Miscellaneous Threats
    5. Summary
    6. References
  15. Chapter 9: Reducing the Risks, Policies to Enhance Energy Security
    1. Defining Common Ground
    2. Shifting Taxes from Income to Consumption
    3. Drill—and Use the Proceeds to Curb Oil Demand
    4. Open Fuel Standard
    5. Summary
    6. References
  16. Chapter 10: Investing in Cleantech, A Guide to Technical Due Diligence
    1. Understand the Hurdles That Come with Each Step
    2. Interviewing the Company
    3. Feedstock, Economic Assumptions, and Energy Requirements
    4. Talk to Competitors and Former Employees
    5. Read Between the Lines and Use Common Sense
    6. Summary
    7. References
  17. Chapter 11: The Race to Replace Oil, Alternative Transportation Fuels
    1. Petroleum Fuel Alternatives
    2. Petroleum Gasoline Alternatives
    3. Petroleum Distillate Substitutes
    4. Summary
    5. References
  18. Chapter 12: Oil-Free Transportation, Alternatives to the Internal Combustion Engine
    1. Transportation Electrification
    2. Human-Powered Transportation
    3. Summary
    4. References
  19. Chapter 13: Corn Ethanol, Past, Present, and Future
    1. Corn Ethanol Policies: Past and Present
    2. Challenges and Opportunities
    3. Summary
    4. References
  20. Chapter 14: U.S. Energy Politics, The Elusive Goal of Energy Independence
    1. Forty Years of Growing Dependence
    2. U.S. Presidents and Oil Production and Consumption: A Chronology
    3. Why Presidents Fail to Tame Oil Dependence
    4. Summary
    5. References
  21. Chapter 15: The Road Ahead, Planning and Preparation
    1. The Three Tenets
    2. The Unpredictable Future
    3. Summary
    4. References
  22. Index

Product information

  • Author(s): Robert Rapier
  • Release date: March 2012
  • Publisher(s): Apress
  • ISBN: 9781430240860