A Key to Understanding Energy Sources and Uses
- MIT Press
- Initial publish date
- Sep 2016
- Energy, Environmental Science
Paperback / softback
- Publish Date
- Sep 2016
- List Price
Add it to your shelf
Where to buy it
The first systematic, quantitative appraisal of power density, offering detailed reviews of power densities of renewable energy flows, fossil fuels, and all common energy uses.
“There's no author whose books I look forward to more than Vaclav Smil.”
In this book, Vaclav Smil argues that power density is a key determinant of the nature and dynamics of energy systems. Any understanding of complex energy systems must rely on quantitative measures of many fundamental variables. Power density—the rate of energy flux per unit of area—is an important but largely overlooked measure. Smil provides the first systematic, quantitative appraisal of power density, offering detailed reviews of the power densities of renewable energy flows, fossil fuels, thermal electricity generation, and all common energy uses.
Smil shows that careful quantification, critical appraisals, and revealing comparisons of power densities make possible a deeper understanding of the ways we harness, convert, and use energies. Conscientious assessment of power densities, he argues, proves particularly revealing when contrasting the fossil fuel–based energy system with renewable energy conversions.
Smil explains that modern civilization has evolved as a direct expression of the high power densities of fossil fuel extraction. He argues that our inevitable (and desirable) move to new energy arrangements involving conversions of lower-density renewable energy sources will require our society—currently dominated by megacities and concentrated industrial production—to undergo a profound spatial restructuring of its energy system.
About the author
Vaclav Smil is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba. He is the author of forty books, including Power Density: A Key to Understanding Energy Sources and Uses and Made in the USA: The Rise and Retreat of American Manufacturing, both published by the MIT Press. In 2010 he was named by Foreign Policy as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers. In 2013 Bill Gates wrote on his website that “there is no author whose books I look forward to more than Vaclav Smil.”
Other titles by Vaclav Smil
Invention and Innovation
A Brief History of Hype and Failure
How the World Really Works
The Science Behind How We Got Here and Where We're Going
How the Modern World Was Made
From Microorganisms to Megacities
Energy and Civilization
A Beginner's Guide
Harvesting the Biosphere
What We Have Taken from Nature
Made in the USA
The Rise and Retreat of American Manufacturing
Prime Movers of Globalization
The History and Impact of Diesel Engines and Gas Turbines