Renewable and Efficient Electric Power Systems


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A solid, quantitative, practical introduction to a wide range of renewable energy systems--in a completely updated, new edition The second edition of Renewable and Efficient Electric Power Systems provides a solid, quantitative, practical introduction to a wide range of renewable energy systems. For each topic, essential theoretical background is introduced, practical engineering considerations associated with designing systems and predicting their performance are provided, and methods for evaluating the economics of ...

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Jul 9, 2008

a beautiful mind...

I've scoured and attempted to digest several texts, journals and articles on renewable energy to try and make sense of the various technologies and their underlying economics, but wasn't until I stumbled upon this hidden treasure that the cloud lifted and the light dawned on my bewildered mind. And it took me a few months to scrub the book cover-to-cover - I was so taken in by the author's mastery of the subject matter and its concise, cogent and crystal-clear presentation.

Prof. Masters assumes nothing of the reader and takes her/him through a narrative that is just so-perfectly blended with rigorous, yet first-order analytical methods to enable the joyous discovery and lucid understanding of most of the major renewable sources of energy - from the gusty wind to the brilliant sun. He explains, proves and illustrates the logic, the math and the mechanics of the what, why and how it all works. He then gets under the hood and crunches the numbers (the economics) of if, when and where it all makes sense.

For instance, he'd prove Betz's law for the maximum efficiency of a wind turbine by totally simplifying the convoluted math and soon follow it up with a practical example of whether it makes economic sense for a farmer to lease his land to a wind farm. Every concept is suffused with first-rate real-world examples:
* should a house in Boulder, CO use a single-axis tracker for a photo-voltaic installation? How about Madison, WI?
* what is the carbon spewed out by a coal-fired power plant? How does that compare to a combined cycle natural gas plant?

In addition to a fair amount of coverage of various renewable and distributed energy resources, a complete soup-to-nuts analysis of photo-voltaic design, sizing and analysis is presented. And it doesn't stop there. Energy efficiency is a major theme - ever heard of absorption cooling? All of this material is developed in the context of `basic electricity' that powers and runs most everything today (except vehicles of course, but that's also soon coming...) The beauty of it all is the seemingly effortless simplicity in which the concepts are explained/analysed without sacrificing rigor - it just flows!

In this age of hype and bias, a certain amount of disinformation coming from the media is understandable. But, living in Silicon Valley, I find it amusing to hear even respectable venture capitalists touting/undermining this technology or that without getting their facts/numbers right - perhaps they are vested or they are simply clueless, like I once was and still continue to be often. Whereas, having earned his PhD in Electrical Engineering at Stanford, Prof. Masters has spent his entire lifetime around these issues (has been there, done that) and has distilled the better part of some of what he's learned into this book. Reading it is a bit like peering into a beautiful mind, indeed. Whether you are a serious student out to change the world, an academic do-gooder, a VC moneybag, a hobbyist moonlighter, I cannot recommend this book enough. It is by far, the best such introductory text in this field.

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