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The Solar Economy: Renewable Energy for a Sustainable Global Future [Paperback]

Hermann Scheer
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

1 May 2004

The global economy and our way of life are based on the exploitation of fossil fuels, which not only threaten massive environmental and social disruption through global warming but, at present rates of consumption, will run out within decades, causing huge industrial dislocation and economic collapse. Even before then, the conflicts it causes in the Middle East and elsewhere will be frighteningly exacerbated.

The alternative exists: renewable energy from renewable sources - above all, solar. Substituting renewable for fossil resources will take a new industrial revolution to avert the worst of the damage and establish a new international order. It can be done, and it can be done in time.

The Solar Economy, by one of the world's most effective analysts and advocates, lays out the blueprints, showing how the political, economic and technological challenges can be met using indigenous, renewable and universally available resources, and the enormous opportunities and benefits that will flow from doing so.

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The Solar Economy: Renewable Energy for a Sustainable Global Future + Energy Autonomy: The Economic, Social and Technological Case for Renewable Energy + The Energy Imperative: 100 Percent Renewable Now
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; New Ed edition (1 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844070751
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844070756
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 13.7 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 71,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'Inspirational.' New Scientist 'A masterwork by the master advocate for solar.' Jeremy Eggett, author of The Carbon War 'This book has the greatest importance for the future of mankind.' Gunther Grass, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 1999 'The most powerfully written book on the energy situation. Highly Recommended!' Choice 'Scheer's is a heady, utopian vision. Here comes the sun.' New Scientist 'Forget Kyoto - all talk and no action; this book shows how technological challenges can be met using indigenous, renewable and universally available resources, and predicts the enormous benefits which will flow from doing so.' Energy World 'The Solar Economy presents a compelling case for weaning the world off its potentially disastrous reliance on oil.' Environment Times

About the Author

Herman Scheer, winner of TIME Magazine's 'Heroes of the Green Century' for his national and international commitment for Renewable Energy. HERMANN SCHEER is a Member of Parliament for the German Government, the Deutscher Bundestag. In addition, he is President of EUROSOLAR, the European Association for Renewable Energies, and General Chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy. He has been awarded several prizes in recognition of his work and achievements, receiving the Alternative Nobel Prize in 1999, the World Solar Prize in 1998 and the World Prize for BioEnergy in 2000.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
MANY AUTHORS HAVE charted the course of civilization through the development of its energy systems - for instance, Debeir, Deleage and Hemery in their history of energy systems, Smil in Energy in World History, and Sieferle in his work on the history of mankind and the environment. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A solar future, the only future. 19 July 2008
A fascinating book about not only how we can power our societies using 100% renewable energies,but why we must.This book is incredibly well thought out and researched,it's heavy going at times because of such in- depth analysis,but very thought provoking none the less.The book describes the absolute impossibility of a sustainable future based on fossil fuels(the inevitable decay of "fossil city").In our future where resource wars are almost unavoidable,this book shines as a beacon of hope,progress and plain scientific commen sense.A book that one hopes our leaders and politicians will read,but you always doubt they will!Hermann Scheer is a German member of parliament and with his kind of vision its not hard to see why Germany is streets ahead when it comes to renewable technologies.Highly recommended!Gordan take note!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOK OF THE 21st CENTURY 1 April 2004
By Autonomeus - Published on
Hermann Scheer has written the most important book of the 21st Century. Yes, that's right -- either we follow this path to a sustainable future, or it is the path not taken as we head into a cycle of civilizational decline, chaos and devastation. The #1 priority in the U.S. right now is regime change -- the Bush/Cheney Regime is dead-set against renewable energy. But in the medium term, a rapid shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, centered on solar energy, is humanity's #1 priority. Scheer has masterfully critiqued the fossil fuel status quo and outlined what needs to be done in this powerful, technically-based, yet compelling manifesto for change. This is one book on energy that will not put you to sleep!

There is far too much here to summarize, but here are a few critical points:

1) The conventional wisdom that says solar and other renewables are too expensive are systematically biased by both the current massive subsidies for fossil fuels and what is left out in calculating the cost of fossil fuels. All it will take to drive down the cost of PV (photovoltaic solar) is ramping up production. Of course massive investment in R&D is also urgently needed to realize greater efficiency. (Scheer is well-equipped for this analysis -- his Ph.D. is in economics.)

2) Fossil fuels of necessity require long supply chains, as they do not occur everywhere, and this entails both inefficiency and higher cost. Solar, wind, biomass and other renewables can be developed locally just about anywhere -- solar energy in principle needs no supply chain at all. The development of a decentralized renewable energy system globally will, in addition to being environmentally sustainable, ultimately be much cheaper than the current centralized fossil fuel system.

3) The battle is already on -- Scheer (an SPD Member of Parliament in Germany) and others have successfully passed legislation in Germany and elsewhere mandating that the electricity grid buy power from locally generated renewable sources. This is a revolutionary reform that has yet to be realized in the U.S., but it is coming, with wind power leading the way. (Howard Geller's ENERGY REVOLUTION is an excellent guide to policy change in the U.S. -- see my review.) Do not believe any sweeping claim about the costs and benefits of renewable energy -- increasing numbers of us can benefit starting now, but there will clearly be losers, and that will include the powerful fossil fuel corporations that don't join the process (BP and Shell are already starting to hedge their bets). It is going to be a fight, a revolution as sweeping as any yet in human existence, comparable only to the shift to agriculture and the shift to industrial manufacturing.

What is needed is a mass movement that works on all levels to bring about the change. Hermann Scheer's THE SOLAR ECONOMY is the manifesto and guide for this movement. For the moment, Europe is clearly in the lead. We in the U.S. need to catch up quickly and start to build a new front inside the U.S. Leviathan -- planetary change will not work if the U.S., the 3rd most populous country and the largest consumer of energy and everything else, does not join the process.

With the Hubbert Peak for oil coming no later than 2020 time is short -- if we want to demonstrate that having evolved such large brains is really an advantage, we have to start using them. The future is clear -- it's either barbarism or a solar economy!
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tough read, but interesting 27 Jun 2005
By F. P. Becker - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The first time I tried to read this book, it confused me so much I had to put it down for a year. The author mixes a paragraph or two of insight and vision within pages of example and data. On, this my second, read I am doing better by skimming past the long lists of examples.

I would love to see this book boiled down to about 20 pages, with another 20 of optional documentation.

What the author does for the reader is lay out the foundation of the modern energy system, and its hidden costs. In great detail. Then he addresses the technical aspect of several different forms of "solar" or renewable energy technologies, and their potential.

I am learning quite a bit, even if I have to take it in small doses
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent look at the energy industry as a WHOLE. 5 Sep 2007
By Prash - Published on
As another reviewer has pointed out this book will not be easy going for everyone. A lot of it written in rather a dry style and is dense with good points. i.e. it is not written in the style of a popular science book. On the other hand this is what makes it so interesting and convincing in its arguments.

The other thing I liked about it was that it takes a very broad view of different energy sources and considers their implications at every level. One of the main points is that when considering the efficiency of an energy source one should account for the energy wasted at every stage of the supply chain rather than the amount of energy going into and coming out of the generation plant. For example the supply chain for coal is Mining - Refining - Shipping - Coal-fired power station - National grid (high voltage) - NG (medium voltage) - Distribution (low voltage). Many of these are energy intensive processes. The supply chain for nuclear is even worse. Compare that to the on-site generation solar supply chain: PV installation - Distribution (indefinitely at no further cost). Many of the true costs of the fossil fuel supply chain is not paid by the consumer or even by the companies involved in supply. The author also considers the social costs involved, which many people seem to be willing to ignore.

There are also some good insights into the oil industry. The most interesting one that comes to mind is how the oil using industries are dependent on each other for the cheap prices of oil. When crude oil is refined the proportions of different products cannot be varied to a great degree. A certain proportion will be kerosene for plane fuel, a certain proportion will be for automobile fuel, a certain proportion usable by the chemicals industry and so on. If the demand for automobile fuel decreases due to efficient engines and the demand from other industries stays the same then the other industries oil prices will go up to cover the cost. This gives the reason for the chemicals industry's opposal to fuel duty. This gives all oil using industries an incentive to keep their demand in line with everybody else's i.e. steadily increasing.

An inspiring book that doesn't rely on its writing style. It gets by purely on its ideas.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Throw away society is flushing our planet down the pan 6 Aug 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on
I liked this book, it gets a bit heavey and technical at times and I indeed had to have a breather once or twice, but it is one of the few books I wanted to read again and had too. I was already a convert to living off grid in Spain with solar and wind energy and this book a surprise Xmas gift from my son only strenghed my renewable off grid living decision. Im no eco warrior or green fanatic Im just ahead of the game, this book lets you know how little of everything we have left not just oil and coal and gas but every metal and mineral we take for granted. Our throw away society is flushing this planet down the pan. Our response till its too late is like the drunk i the pub, mines a pint please, goodbye leave the light on it will turn its self off !
5.0 out of 5 stars This is it! 8 Aug 2014
By John Patterson - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The world WILL transition to a global solar economy and Sheer will be one of the primary architects. We see his vision has already taken root in Germany. This is very heady, very forward thinking. It's rather like the Bible in one respect: it tells you point blank what to do but it's so deep and so profound you have to read it over and over to get the full meaning. I'm on my second reading of the book. There's paragraphs I've read 10 times. Sheer is a genius. I wish I were too then I could master it quicker and start to help build the solar economy.

John Patterson "Mr. Sun" and author of "FOOTPRINT: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Extinction"
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