Review also includes:
Fossil Fuels, 978-0749687717
Geothermal Power, 978-0749687724
Nuclear Power, 978-0749687731
Solar Power, 978-0749687748
Water Power, 978-0749687755
Wind Power, 978-0749687762
The Energy Mix, 978-0749687779
Each of the first seven books in this series treats the energy source indicated by its title in 19 illustrated spreads, followed by a Glossary, a list of Websites, and an Index. The last book surveys the whole subject, briefly summarising the content of the others, in the same format. There is a box or two on each spread, adding detail about a particular process or technique, answering a likely FAQ or confronting the reader with a question about implications or future prospects.
Scientific properties of power sources and technical methods of exploiting them are clearly explained. Many major installations are illustrated and dimensioned. Relations with the climate change problem and other advantages or disadvantages are discussed, and supporters and opponents quoted. Quotations are unfortunately not generally referenced, making it difficult for the reader to find the quotation in context. Environmental and economic considerations are discussed, but apart from reference to NIMBY (‘not in my back yard’) attitudes the associated political problems are discussed only to a limited extent. The mediation of objections to nuclear power by using thorium-based reactors is not discussed, but readers consulting one of the quoted websites will find explanations of this technology.
Insofar as this reviewer is competent to judge, the books sustain a very high standard of accuracy. ‘Makes it more powerful’ is perhaps an eccentric way of saying ‘raises the voltage’ – what a transformer does to reduce energy loss in electric power transmission (Fossil Fuels, p26). The radius of the Earth’s inner core is misdescribed as its diameter in a picture caption, although given correctly in the accompanying text (Geothermal Power, p7). It is claimed, by what I call a ‘caveat mistake’, that ‘Hydrogen is an exceptional element, because it has no neutrons’ (Nuclear Power, p6). Isotopes are explained on the opposite page, but the reader who relies on the quoted text will have difficulty in understanding the notion of heavy water or practically anything about fusion power.