Sustainable Energy Without The Hot Air

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David MacKay was a professor of Physics at Cambridge University when he wrote "Sustainable Energy Without The Hot Air" (SEWTHA), which he self-published as a book in December 2008, and also made available online as a PDF download and website.

In SEWTHA MacKay discusses our uses of energy — cars, planes, heating and cooling, light, gadgets, food and farming, "stuff", and public services — and the various technologies available for supplying energy sustainably — wind, solar, hydro, wave, tide, geothermal — and how we might get them to balance. In particular MacKay discusses the physics, and physical limitations, of the technologies he assesses, from the potential power available from sun, wind, etc to the limits to efficiency of transport from air resistance etc.

He takes pains to present technologies and potential solutions in a neutral manner: the only technology he insisted upon was arithmetic – that any plan anyone proposes should add up.

Since the book was published various aspects of technologies have changed, e.g. the price of more efficient solar PV panels has fallen, and there is now a substantial fleet of all-electric vehicles on the road, and charging stations for them, but the facility to use EVs as two-way storage and put energy back into the grid has not materialised. However the laws of physics and principles of arithmetic on which the book are based have not changed .