I read this several months ago, but didn’t finish the review until now. This is a hard review to write because Freeman has so many good quotes. I saved 3400 words of quotes from this book.

Winning Our Energy Independence: An Energy Insider Shows How by S. David Freeman is an excellent book by an expert. It is an apolitical pragmatic argument for how and why the USA should change our energy use from fossil fuels to renewables. Freeman spent decades rescuing power companies and improving their efficiency. If the guy called in to save failing power companies says making them greener saves them, we should probably listen. Freeman certainly has more accurate and thorough knowledge than the people claiming we can’t afford to move to renewable energy. He provides a good critique of the distorted system that has led to current inefficiencies.

… efficiency and renewables are cheaper even on the misleading pricing system we use. If we consider—and we must—the health costs of air pollution, the proliferation and radiation risks of nuclear, and the health and global warming costs of coal, it is a no-brainer.

Now that sustainable energy is economical—but still little used—Freeman proposes using subsidies to jump-start their implementation. He proposes a workable solution that will make the world a better place as well as saving money over the long term. I agree with Freeman’s assessment of the situation and the end results of his proposed solution. I don’t like all the details of his proposed solution, but it is probably more likely to happen than my preferred answer of removing the existing subsides to dirty power. The existing subsidies probably won’t be removed, so this is a more pragmatic, less idealistic solution.

In addition to the solution provided, I like that Freeman provides some numbers to go with statements I have heard from other sources. For example, an interesting statistic that I hadn’t seen anyone put a number with is that compared to the average car, a plug-in hybrid emits 1/4 the CO2. And that is when powered by coal generated electricity. The number goes down with cleaner power plants. This is in addition to the gasoline saved, “If everyone drove an HEV 60, it would cut gasoline consumption by over 70 percent.”

This is an excellent book that debunks all the arguments against moving to sustainable energy. I wonder if Freeman puts too much emphasis on hydrogen for storage, but overall his solution is reasonable. I spent far more time searching for original sources and checking his math than I did reading the book. If I hadn’t, this would have been a quick read. I would have preferred better footnotes, but the format used is appropriate for the intended audience. Winning Our Energy Independence makes my short list of books that everyone should read. As Freeman says, “There can be no more urgent task for humanity than to find, as rapidly as possible, alternatives to burning the limited fossil fuels on Earth.” I hope it is effective enough that I am able to move it from this list to a list of books that are interesting for their historic impact.

BibTeX reference:

	Author = {S. David Freeman},
	Edition = {First},
	Publisher = {Gibbs Smith},
	Title = {Winning our energy independence: an energy insider shows how},
	Year = {2007}