Books  Sustainable Development  Energy 

Citizen-powered Energy Handbook: Community Solutions to a Global Crisis

Handbook / Manual

By: Greg Pahl

347 pages, B/w photos & illus

Chelsea Green

Paperback | Oct 2007 | #182330 | ISBN-13: 9781933392127
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £18.95 $23/€21 approx

About this book

The "Citizen-Powered Energy Handbook" assesses the current energy situation and points toward a sustainable path forward. Greg Pahl examines renewable energy technologies currently available and homes in on strategies that can be adopted by individuals and, especially, communities. Such cooperative initiatives have been common in Europe for years and are beginning to gain a foothold in the USA because these medium-scale projects bring people together to create collective energy security for a neighbourhood, town, or region while strengthening the local economy.

Each chapter focuses on a different renewable energy sector - solar, wind, water, biomass, liquid biofuels, and geothermal - then reviews their advantages and disadvantages and describes numerous examples of proven local initiatives. The "Citizen-Powered Energy Handbook" is an eloquent appeal and a practical handbook for community and regional action to deal head-on with environmental challenges and to take responsibility for energy supplies now controlled by large, distant utilities and consortiums.

Citizen-Powered Energy Handbook
Iave just set down "The Citizen-Powered Energy Handbook: Community Solutions to a Global Crisis" by Greg Pahl.
Heas the guy who wrote "Biodiesel: Growing a New Energy Economy," which we sell at the Co-op. We also sell his "Natural Home Heating" book. Neither one hold a candle to his latest. This book is fantastic.
When a copy arrived in a cardboard box in the control room, I set it next to my phone for about a month. Itas a long title, with a boring cover, and I was afraid it was going to be an exercise in alisting.a Having recently reviewed "Small is Possible"--which is an object lesson in how to turn a list into a book--and having a vague memory of Pahlas "Biodiesel" book, which lists some B20 trials, I was worried that I had another alista book on my desk. But I figured that if I was to dig into a list, Iad like to revisit Homeras catalogue of ships in the Iliad. On first blush, that seemed more appealing than delving into this book.
But I was wrong about that. The foreword by Richard Heinberg is aHeinberg as Usual, a only with a more positive spin.
And Pahlas introduction, followed by a chapter on aEnergy Choicesa should be required reading for everyone in the country. In thirty some odd pages he lays down a primer on energy that is clear, concise, andaccurate.
And he then embarks on a crawl through of solar, and wind, and water, and biofuels, etc.
What I especially like about this book is that Pahl is part of the story. Gone is the cold objectivity of his biodiesel book. He puts in photos of the solar hot water system on his own house in Vermont. And of the pellet stove in his basement. He talks about taking the train to a Peak Oil Conference, and how when he arrives he and one other attendee has taken public transportation. Everyone else showed up in cars.
His move into first person journalism makes the book much more compelling. Dr. Hunter S. Thompson would be proud. This is a book about successful renewable energy projects written by a guy who has clearly thought deeply about his own energy consumption, and invested heavily in the game.
His own experiences give him credibility on the subject and make his reporting of other peopleas projects seem much more powerful. The other day the Abundance Foundation did some tabling out in Research Triangle Park. They were beset upon by a chiropractor from Cary who was pro nuclear, and anti biofuels, and when they returned from the experience they came to me for some guidance. They are so jazzed by what they have read, they are buying a dozen copies, to give to every County Commissioner and Town Councilor they can find. Which is genius.
When Rebecca encountered the book, she yawned. But she has read all of Heinberg, and most of the energy canon, and sheas a solar installer. Same was true of Mattas response. Matt also panned "Biodiesel America," which I found to be a great book. Itas a good thing Pahl isnat writing for energy snobs.
Peoplewho have read every book they can find about biodiesel, and peak oil, and climate change, are not going to find the "Citizen-Powered Energy Handbook" full of radical new ideas that set them on fire.
Which means the renewable energy hardcore fringe is not the target for this book. This book is a survey. It surveys energy paradigms, and it surveys successful projects. It also stays positive. It is masterfully written. The fact that Johnny Weis, the founder of SEI wants Carbondale Colorado to adopt micro-hydro, makes micro-hydro a real possibility. The fact that Carbondale is powered by coal is not the point.
This book is about what is possible. It should be embraced by the folks at Yes! magazine.
And every politician in the land should be reading it tonight. Which is not quite true. The copy in our library is checked out right now. My advice would be to buy a copy for your own collection. Itas the kind of book you will want to have on handa]
Piedmont Biofuels, Energy Blog

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Author: Greg Pahl, author of Biodiesel: Growing the New Economy and Natural Home Heating: The Complete Guide to Renewable Energy Options, has been following renewable energy issues for more than 25 years. He lives in Weybridge, Vermont.

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