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Unlocking Energy Innovation: How America Can Build a Low-Cost, Low-Carbon Energy System Hardcover – October 21, 2011


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Unlocking Energy Innovation: How America Can Build a Low-Cost, Low-Carbon Energy System + Powering the Future: A Scientist's Guide to Energy Independence (FT Press Science) + The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (October 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 026201677X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262016773
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #412,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Richard Lester and David Hart offer a thoughtful analysis about the special challenges of innovation in energy. Their book will generate discussion and indeed debate about the relative roles of government and markets in bringing innovation about." -- Daniel Yergin, author of The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World



"Lester and Hart have perceptively described what a vastly improved U.S. energy innovation system would look like and the significant economic and environmental benefits it could deliver. Equally important, they have laid out a thoughtful initial approach to building this system over the near and long-term." -- Dan W. Reicher, Executive Director, Stanford University's Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Review

"Richard Lester and David Hart offer a thoughtful analysis about the special challenges of innovation in energy. Their book will generate discussion and indeed debate about the relative roles of government and markets in bringing innovation about." -- Daniel Yergin, author of The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World "Lester and Hart have perceptively described what a vastly improved U.S. energy innovation system would look like and the significant economic and environmental benefits it could deliver. Equally important, they have laid out a thoughtful initial approach to building this system over the near and long-term." -- Dan W. Reicher, Executive Director, Stanford University's Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Rissman on April 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In "Unlocking Energy Innovation," Professors Richard Lester (MIT) and David Hart (George Mason University) argue that technological innovation in the U.S. electricity sector is the key to reducing carbon emissions and avoiding serious impacts from climate change. To generate new innovations and accelerate their uptake and deployment in the field, Lester and Hart propose numerous changes to private and public entities throughout the industry, amounting to a complete overhaul of the way electricity is produced, regulated, and distributed. The book's greatest strengths are its bold vision and its comprehensiveness: although their work is only 167 pages (excluding preface and endnotes), Lester and Hart touch on almost every aspect of the electricity industry, including basic and applied research, central and distributed generation, the smart grid, financial tools, and advanced technologies still in early development. Many of their ideas are clever, and it is easy to believe that they would be a substantial improvement over our existing system. On the other hand, in such a small book, Lester and Hart were forced to exclude some things which would have strengthened their argument. The first missing piece is political: given the urgency of reducing carbon emissions, how are we to pass the laws and make the structural changes Lester and Hart propose in a timely manner? The other element that could enhance "Unlocking Energy Innovation" is greater visibility into the research which backs the authors' recommendations. The book is the culmination of a three-year study at MIT involving numerous faculty, students, and industry experts. An enormous amount of data must have been generated, but we see little of it in the final document.Read more ›
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John G. Bennett on February 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Alarms went off when early on there is a claim that you need to build 120GW of low carbon power plant to make a 4% reduction in carbon emission from US electricity. Huh? Our 2010 peak consumption was 800GW, and a useful fraction of that is already low carbon. The 120GW number would be more like 20%.
But that turned out to be typical of the book. All words, no numbers, nothing solid to work with. The overall thesis is we should just create a good incentive system by improving the grid (good idea), improving conservation through ideas like smart metering (being tried, catching on only slowly), and using the tariffs to incentivise green delivery (ok). Then we just sit back and watch it happen.
Nonsense.
There is no reason we should not invest in cleaner energy. It would be cheaper (and more effective) than militarizing the world's oil and gas producers has been. Heck, with a trillion bucks we could have built a lot of wind and solar, figured out most of the technology needed for LFTR, got a solid run at diesel from algae, built some additional key links in our grid, etc. .. and had higher employment. But, government does not invest in the right thing without imagination and good advice.
This book is not how to imagine a better future. It is just more drifting along with a timid push in some useful directions, but what is described is barely above status quo. Uninspiring. At that rate we will have more wars, more global warming, more isolation, and the new power systems are all going to be invented elsewhere.
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Donald N. Mei Jr. on June 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The author lost me in the first couple of chapters as he described the necessary new Federal and regional agencies necessary to implement this. The DOE has existed since the Carter Admin and has accomplished nothing. Its thousands of employees burn through $30,000,000,000 every year, not including unfunded pension liabilities. That much money would help to fund a dozen nuclear plants every year. Hows that? Get rid of the DOE and in 10 years have 120 nuke plants making clean power.

Instead the authors create envision a socialist fantasy land of Government programs, taxes and incentives that will cost every American tens of thousands of dollars. All the while ignoring the fact that the US share of greenhouse gas emissions is only about 15% and is rapidly decreasing. So even if you buy into global warming 100%, its ridiculous to think that a national policy will have any effect on our climate. Think of it this way. If we cut emissions like the author suggested by 40%, we will only affect world output by 6%. And that assumes that our percentage of world output remains the same. The more likely scenario is that our percentage of total is somewhere less than 10% by the time any grand schemes come into play. (perhaps much less) At that point, a 40% decrease would affect world output by 4%. The US has 300 million people. Combined, China and India have over 2.6 billion people. Almost 9 times the population of the US. With an exploding middle class in both of these countries, to make any sacrifice in the name of reduced domestic carbon emissions both pointless and wasteful.

One other annoyance is the fact that the author does not seem to recognize the booming domestic natural gas and oil production.
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