"Green energy," "climate change," "environment," "sustainability" are some of the very prominent buzzwords that that pup up with some frequency in the media these days. The planet is in grave peril, and unless we do something drastic about it we are all going to die. Or something to that effect. And the drastic measure almost always means abandoning fossil fuels, and replacing them with "sustainable" sources of energy, such as biomass, wind, solar, etc. Putting aside the validity of the danger that the environmental pollution may be causing, the notion that there are easy fixes in the form of alternative energy sources laying around are just not valid. After decades of subsidies, media coverage and promotion, the simple fact remains that these alternative sources of energy are far inferior to whatever we are using right now and no amount of additional funding will change that. And this has nothing to do with our efforts - this is all based on simple laws of physics. The mainstream sources of energy - primarily fossil fuels - are by far the most readily available, portable, and concentrated sources of energy that we have.
"Power Hungry" is a great source of information on some of the basic principles that underlie any energy considerations. Robert Bryce provides considerable background on many of the more popular "alternative" energy solutions - wind, solar, ethanol - and why they are all based on hype that is well beyond anything that is reasonable to expect, either now or with any future technology. I was particularly shocked to find out how much additional "dirty" energy infrastructure needs to be built for the purpose of backing up some of the renewable power sources - wind and solar in particular. These sources of power are very inconsistent and unsuitable for providing sustained energy needs of any modern society. These considerations are, unfortunately, almost never discussed in the media.
This is a very important book that goes well beyond the hype and the usual sanctimonies about the need for "clean" energy. Regardless of where you stand on the whole issue of climate change and the need to combat it, this book could provide you with some clear understanding of very real and very physical limits of what "clean" energy can provide. It's an important book that can add a lot of value to our public policy debates.