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Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Energy Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America's Energy Odyssey [Hardcover]

William Tucker
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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2.0 out of 5 stars Frustratingly written. July 25 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book both informed and frustrated me. The author is really a documenter rather than a thinker. In the first half of the book he parrots out all the bromides supporting global warming / catastrophic climate chang, rejecting reasoning or even interspersing the voices of those who question any impending climatic disaster due to human energy production and use. In actual fact, he attempts to justify nuclear energy by inducing fear in his reader.

That said, treats nuclear science with an entirely different approach. He is able to clearly see through the misinformation that riddles this field and presents a great deal of well presented history.

As a follower and supporter of the late Petr Beckmann, I remember his advice, and paraphrasing, "Taping the atom for energy is both the safest and the least costly means of supplying energy for our society but trying to scare people with the false claims of danger from other sources will backfire."

In all, a frustrating book but I will probably read it again to pick out and retain some of the pearls of wisdom it does contain.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly but easy to understand May 30 2010
By Kroket TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
William Tucker gives an overview of all the ways in which electric power has been and can be produced. He provides interesting historical data for each and their pros and cons. This is a timely book as we witness the overdue demise of the global warming alarmism and the return to reason in our quest for increased energy production, efficiency and capacity. Tucker exposes the hype and misconceptions that have fueled much of the AGW debate. Of particular interest are the hindrances which the government regulations impose on the construction of nuclear facilities, often resulting in enormous cost overruns and delays. France's experience with nuclear power is held up as an example for us to follow. This is a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable book which should be read by anyone interested in the subject of electric energy production.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  51 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, concise, credible and well written. Sept. 30 2008
By Jerry Kennealy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As a long-time concerned conservationist, I've always been leery of Nuclear power, however, Mr. Tucker's book makes a strong case for a solar-nuclear alliance. Safety is of course a major concern, and Tucker details past failures and the positive results achieved by the U.S. Navy's atomic submarines, aircraft carriers, and France. The fact that France's nuclear program provides 80 % of their electricity at the lowest rates in Europe; stores the high-level nuclear waste from 30 years in one room in La Hague, and exports power to Denmark and Germany, will hopefully get some of those head-in-the-sand start thinking positively about working with nuclear.
Another startler in Tucker's book is the revelation that after the end of the Cold War, two American Senators - a democrat, Sam Nunn, and a republican, Pete Domenici, made a deal with the Russian government to purchase enriched uramium from their disassembled weapons and recycle it through American power plants. Since 20% of our electricity comes from nuclear, and half of our fuel comes from recycled missiles, one in every ten light bulbs in America is now lit thanks to a former Soviet weapon!
The chapter on the creation of the atomic bomb reads like a Le Carre thriller.
Tucker painstaking explores the advantages and disadvantages of biofuels, hydro, wind, and geothermal. The book is clear, concise, credible and well written.
Jerry Kennealy
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-Read for Anyone Concerned about our Energy Future Oct. 20 2008
By Loren D. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
William Tucker has created a well-written, thoughtful review of the current state of America's energy situation.

When I first heard about this book, which unabashedly promotes nuclear energy as the only reasonable option we have, I had a negative reaction. The reason had nothing to do with embracing nuclear. That part was easy since it brought me back to my childhood in the 60's when nuclear was widely heralded as the energy source of the future.

Rather, it was his embracing of the theory (yes, it's still only a theory) of man-made global warming as a basis for promoting nuclear energy solutions that gave me pause.

After reading the book, however, I have to say he's done a commendable job of fleshing out the science and the arguments on both sides of the global warming debate better than any treatment I've read to date.

Tucker then analyzes every possible energy option currently available to mankind, including coal, natural gas, geothermal, hydro, solar, wind, biofuels, coal gassification, etc. He cuts through much of the rhetoric that swirls around each of these energy options and lays out the history and all the facts, both the good and the bad, for each option.

Tucker does an excellent job of making things understandable for the layperson, despite being someone with a much more technical understanding of the science underlying these energy alternatives.

This book is informative and very engaging, and I would highly recommend it to anyone serious about understanding the reality of our energy choices.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear thinking and balanced Oct. 20 2008
By Harold R. Beaver - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Ever since William Tucker wrote "Progress and Privilege" in 1982, I have been an admirer of his writing ability. The arguments advanced in the 1982 work are still valid today and that book really straightened out my thinking about the dark side of the green movement.

Now comes a new book on terrestrial energy that is full of data. I am an engineer and welcome the data and I know from past experience I can trust Tucker's research. So I could read this book with little or no fact checking on my own. This made the reading go ever so smoothly when numerical data was presented.

I thought the choice of the subject matter for chapter one was perfect.Lets talk about global warming. If he had not opened that dialog early , it would have put lots of readers on the defensive. But he handled the subject in a balanced way and even if readers disagree with his conclusion, most will agree it was handled fairly.

The first one third of the book includes a review of past energy sources that are now in their old age stage of development. This included hydro,coal and petroleum. His analysis of where we have been and where we have left to go was on target based on my own understanding of the technical arguments involved.

Later chapters discuss alternative energy sources such as solar and renewables. You have got to admire a writer that will use the First and Second Laws of thermodynamics in a popular book to advance arguments for and against renewables.

Finally in the last 140 pages the big bear sitting silently in the background is introduced.Nuclear energy. Be prepared to read a really comprehensive and technically muscular discussion of this subject. The French solution presented in detail is really uplifting, particularly the issue of nuclear waste reprocessing.

When I read the book I made a few notes. I am going to re-read it and make lots of notes because I plan to use it as my data base in discussions with my friends.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absolutely Outstanding Book! Oct. 6 2008
By Kirk Sorensen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Several years ago I had a strong desire to write a book that would examine each of current and potential sources of energy and explain its merits and drawbacks. I wanted to have something that would help people understand why nuclear energy is such a promising source of energy for the world. I no longer need to write my book--Mr. Tucker had done it for me, and far better than I would have.

"Terrestrial Energy" is outstanding...this is a book that I would recommend without reservation to all of my friends and colleagues who are concerned about the severe energy crisis that is only beginning. I promise you, no matter how much you know about energy and energy policy (and I don't consider myself a novice in the field) you will learn more, or at the very least have a greater insight into these issues after reading Mr. Tucker's book.

I plan to buy many copies of this book (hope there's a bulk discount!) and distribute them to friends, family, church and work colleagues to help them understand more about how we can actually solve our energy crisis (for thousands of years) using the basic power that has been locked in the nuclei of thorium and uranium for the last five billion years.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Overdue Discussion Oct. 7 2008
By Neil Rosekrans - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Mr. Tucker provides what has long been lacking from the energy debate - practicality. This well-researched book is a good starting point for anyone wanting to understand our current energy profile as well as the less-than-obvious constraints to current policy proposals aimed at substituting carbon-based energy with renewable energy.

Our current generation assets effectively meet specific needs and energy consumption patterns. Nuclear, coal and hydro sources meet our base load electricity demand that exists day and night. Natural gas plants, as well as some coal plants, are fired up during the day as electric demand spikes.

Since electricity generally cannot be stored for later use, grid operators must feed electricity onto the grid as it is demanded - all within a five percent variance. The challenge to wind power, as Mr. Tucker outlines, is that it is highly unpredictable and would be a disaster if it were to replace the current role of natural gas peaking plants. In fact, the Danes have refused adding anymore wind to their mix for this exact reason.

Solar, on the other hand, could act as a peaking source since its production spikes at the same time as demand on hot summer afternoons. But the challenge with solar, as with wind, is that both sources are highly dilute (and expensive!).

We would need an inordinate amount of land to replace a traditional nuclear, coal or gas power plant with solar or wind. If we covered, as Mr. Tucker explains, every rooftop in the country with solar panels, we would be able to provide the equivalent of our daytime indoor lighting needs. (This is less than 5 percent of our total electricity demand).

Terrestrial energy (nuclear), by contrast, is far more concentrated than solar energy - by a factor of about two million. Much of the rest of Mr. Tucker's book is spent explaining how nuclear energy works and how nuclear plants are, despite some public sentiment, very safe and environmentally compatible.

As ratepayers we need to understand that utilities merely pass through their costs of purchasing power and that federal and state mandates for renewable energy come with a price tag. If our national priority is clean, safe and inexpensive power then policymakers owe us a long overdue discussion on nuclear energy.
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