Cover image for Charging ahead : the business of renewable energy and what it means for America
Charging ahead : the business of renewable energy and what it means for America
Berger, John J.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press, 1998.

Physical Description:
xxii, 399 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TJ807.9.U6 B47 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Charging Ahead foretells the world's next great energy transformation: the shift to clean, renewable energy sources. It shows how renewable energy, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles, when used together, can give us back a clean environment and create a healthy, sustainable economy. In chronicling this extraordinary technological revolution, John J. Berger provides a fascinating look at the new industries that will make it possible, and the trillion-dollar benefits Americans can enjoy by choosing pollution-free energy and transportation.

Author Notes

John J. Berger writes and teaches on energy and natural resource issues and is a consultant on environmental science and policy. He is the author of books on nuclear and renewable energy and is the editor of Environmental Restoration: Science and Strategies for Restoring the Earth (1990).

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Oil crises and long gas lines seem as much relics of the 1970s as do leisure suits. Also quaintly reminiscent of that decade are the then widely touted alternative remedies to our energy problems--solutions such as solar, geothermal, and wind energy. Berger makes clear, however, that we continue to ignore these renewable energy sources at our own risk and at great expense. Berger specializes in environmental and energy policy and is an independent consultant. Here he draws attention to new ways entrepreneurs and small companies have been harnessing power and developing new products. These efforts have usually gone without fanfare, attracted little government interest, and been opposed by what Berger refers to as "fossil fuel lobbyists." Berger explains why it is so important to develop alternative energy sources, and stirs the imagination with exciting examples of the progress being made in the fields of solar, wind, bioenergy, and geothermal technology and with electric vehicles and hypercars. --David Rouse

Publisher's Weekly Review

Widespread use of renewable energy (e.g., wind power) is coming; the only question is how long it will take to get here. Berger (Restoring the Earth) argues persuasively that at present, the limiting factor is political rather than technological. Huge governmental subsidies for the oil, coal and nuclear industries, coupled with massive environmental costs paid by society rather than users, make it difficult for renewable energy sources to gain a major foothold. But even so, he explains, each year an increasing percentage of the world's energy supply arises from non-polluting renewables. Berger focuses on the promises offered by four alternative energy technologies‘solar power, wind power, bioenergy and geothermal energy‘as well as on energy conservation strategies, with solar energy and electric cars drawing the bulk of his attention. At times encyclopedic, his book is an amalgam of telling insights into the leaders of upstart companies and the problems they face plus detailed descriptions of apparatuses that only a techie could love. Photos. Rights (except electronic): Virginia Barber. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

This is a very useful book marred by two or three conflicting themes. The main thrust is the importance of shifting our society from fossil fuels, with all their negative implications, to a brave new world with abundant energy supplied from renewable sources. This is a complex problem, and the author works through the various technical, historical, economic, and political factors that prevent a quick and/or painless transition. At the same time, he chronicles at great length the false starts and failures of individual businesses trying to accomplish this changeover. The result is too much business analysis for a technical reader and the converse for a business reader. The author also faults governments and the business community for preserving the status quo of providing massive fossil and nuclear subsidies while starving renewables. A valuable section highlights the importance of raising the efficiency of energy use. Many dramatic savings are available with existing technology, but architects, engineers, builders, developers, and owners often have little or no incentive to innovate and, in fact, they can often make more money by specifying inefficient building systems. As Amory Lovins says "As long as we reward design professionals for what they spend, not what they save, we can expect to get nutty results." Overall, a valuable resource for all students of the global energy problem. J. C. Comer; emeritus, Northern Illinois University