The Science of Renewable Energy (Hardback) book cover

The Science of Renewable Energy

By Frank R. Spellman, Revonna M. Bieber

© 2012 – CRC Press

340 pages | 181 B/W Illus.

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As time goes forward, the availability of affordable and accessible petroleum products decreases while the negative environmental impact increases. If we want to sustain our current way of life, which includes massive energy consumption, it is necessary to find alternatives to fossil fuels to prevent fuel shortages and to preserve and repair the environment around us. The Science of Renewable Energy presents a no-nonsense discussion of the importance of renewable energy, while adhering to scientific principles, models, and observations. The text includes in-depth discussions of emerging technologies, including biomass and fuel cells, and major sources of renewable energy, such as ocean, hydro, solar, and wind energy.

To provide a fundamental understanding of the basic concepts of renewable energy, the book also offers an extensive discussion on the basics of electricity, since it is applied to and produced from all forms of renewable energy. While emphasizing the technical aspects and practical applications of renewable sources, the text also covers the economic, social, and policy implications of large-scale implementation. The main focus of the book is on methods of obtaining energy from self-replenishing natural processes while limiting pollution of the atmosphere, water, and soil, as this is a critical pathway for the future. Exploring the subject from a scientific perspective highlights the need for renewable energy and helps to evaluate the task at hand.

The book is written for a wide range of readers, including students of diverse backgrounds and individuals in the energy industries, and presents the material in a user-friendly manner. Even individuals can have an impact on the quest to develop renewable energy sources. The concepts and guidelines described provide critical scientific rationale for pursuing clean and efficient energy sources as well as the knowledge needed to understand the complex issues involved. Woven with real-life situations, the text presents both the advantages and challenges of the different types of renewable energy.

Table of Contents

Post-Oil Energy

The Gathering Storm

Peak Oil

A Malthusian Catastrophe?

Weathering the Storm

Alternative and Renewable Energy

The Bottom Line: The Need for Innovation

Discussion Questions

References and Recommended Reading

Energy Basics


Principles of Basic Electricity

Battery-Supplied Electricity

DC Circuits

Ohm’s Law

Electric Power

Electric Energy

Series DC Circuit Characteristics

Parallel DC Circuits

Series–Parallel Circuits



AC Theory

Characteristic Values of AC Voltage and Current

Resistance in AC Circuits



Inductive and Capacitive Reactance

Capacitive Reactance

AC Circuit Theory




Power Distribution System Protection

Electrical Drawings

Discussion and Review Questions

References and Recommended Reading

Solar Energy


Concentrating Solar Power

Linear Concentrators

Dish/Engine Systems

Power Tower Systems

Thermal Energy Storage


Domestic and Industrial Use of Solar Energy

Let There Be Natural Light

The Bottom Line on Solar Energy

Discussion and Review Questions

References and Recommended Reading

Wind Energy


Air in Motion.

Wind Energy

Wind Power Basics

Wind Turbine Types

Turbine Components

Wind Energy and Power Calculations

Small-Scale Wind Power

The Bottom Line on Wind Power

Discussion and Review Questions

References and Recommended Reading



Hydropower Basic Concepts

Density and Specific Gravity

Force and Pressure

Reservoir Stored Energy

Hydro Turbines

Advanced Hydropower Technology

Hydropower Generation: Dissolved Oxygen Concerns

Bottom Line on Hydropower

Discussion and Review Questions

References and Recommended Reading




Plant Basics


Biogas (Methane CH)

The Bottom Line

Discussion and Review Questions

References and Recommended Reading

Geothermal Energy


Geothermal Energy: The Basics

Energy Conversion

Geothermal Power Plant Technologies

Enhanced Geothermal Systems

Geothermal Heat Pumps

The Bottom Line

Discussion and Review Questions

References and Recommended Reading

Ocean Energy


Oceans and Their Margins

The Ocean Floor

Ocean Tides, Currents, and Waves

Coastal Erosion, Transportation, and Deposition

Wave Energy

Wave Energy Conversion Technology

Tidal Energy

Tidal Energy Technologies

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion

The Bottom Line

Discussion and Review Questions

References and Recommended Reading

Fuel Cells

Fuel Cells: The Basics

Open Cells vs. Closed Cells

Hydrogen Fuel Cells: A Realistic View

Discussion and Review Question.

References and Recommended Reading





About the Authors

Dr. Frank R. Spellman is assistant professor of Environmental Health at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, and the author of 55 books. His book topics range from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to all areas of environmental science and occupational health.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
NATURE / Environmental Conservation & Protection
SCIENCE / Energy
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Environmental / General