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The “energy crises” of the 1970s together with the appearance of numerous books and papers on the general theme of “limits to growth” catapulted energy from obscurity to social, economic, and academic prominence. Then fuel prices came down again, economies recovered, and energy more or less disappeared from university and political discourse until about 2005. Many believed that market processes had resolved, and would continue to address, all energy supply issues. Now energy in all of its aspects is back with a vengeance. While oil spills, mine deaths, and stock market plunges grab the headlines, there are much more fundamental discussions taking place about energy and its economic and environmental effects, many already occurring, on a societal scale. Most fundamental in this respect is the arrival, plus or minus a few years, of global peak oil, which in 1968 was first predicted to occur around the turn of the millennium. Clearly, energy never really went away and in fact underlies all physical motion, all life, all chemistry, and all economics. It has been neglected in our understanding and teaching of societal processes for far too long, and particularly now when the scope and importance of issues growing out of energy availability and use are increasing yearly. These issues and impacts include the potential for economic growth and wealth creation (including so-called sustainable development), climate change, general pollution, agricultural production, clean water, and perhaps even the continued existence of civilization as we know it in the coming decades.
The publisher sbelieve that there is a great need for a comprehensive and integrated series of books that provides a quantitative accounting of energy use including the potential and limitations of real-world deployments of new technologies. One key concept is Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI or EROI) which is used to quantity the actual net energy for society from sources as diverse as “renewable” energy from solar and wind power installations to the current enthusiasm over unconventional oil and gas. Springer Briefs in Energy: Energy Analysis will cover the fundamental ways in which energy operates in the natural world and, in its abundance and governing physical laws, enables and constrains all human activities. The series will be empirically based with much technical information while remaining accessible to the non-specialist reader. Individual books will minimize the jargon, mathematics, or theory of specialist books in the various disciplines on the one hand, and the advocacy positions of popular accounts that may make their scholarship and conclusions suspect on the other.
Under the editorship of Charles Hall and a panel of energy experts, the series will include contributions from many of the world’s most authoritative energy analysts. The series will appeal to anyone interested in energy use and its impacts on the economy and society in general. The audience is expected to range from advanced undergraduates through professionals in the physical science, environmental science, and economics and financial communities. Financial analysts will gain an understanding of how energy is increasingly impacting economic processes. University instructors will find these books to be invaluable for providing students (and themselves) with greater depth and insight into the role of energy in society with an emphasis on the methods and applications of energy accounting.