Thursday, November 12, 2015

Harness the Sun: America's Quest for a Solar-Powered Future by Philip Warburb (read 9/30/15 to 10/28/15)

This is an early review book I received through Early Reviewers. The description says that it is a book about America's solar revolution. The early reviewer blurb said"Solar power was once the domain of futurists and environmentally minded suburbanites. Today it is part of mainstream America—and the solar industry is absolutely booming, as it adds workers almost twenty times faster than the overall US economy. Beginning in his Boston-area home, where a rooftop solar array meets most of his family’s power needs, Philip Warburg travels the country and introduces readers to a surprising array of pioneers who are spearheading America’s solar revolution, from conservative business leaders and politicians to students and professors committed to greening their campuses. Pollution-ravaged urban industrial areas and Native American groups alike are finding that solar offers the key to revitalizing their communities—all while weaning the country off of fossil fuels. In Harness the Sun, Warburg argues that solar offers a realistic solution to the urgent problem of transforming our energy sector in a way that meets demand and is technically and economically viable."  It sounded so fascinating and when I realized I won it, I was really exciting.  The same week it came we had a scheduled appointment with a representative from SolarCity to look into putting solar panels on our own home, it seemed very timely and relevant to my own life at the time.  Then I began to read the book and I was disappointed.
The first three chapters were very tedious for me to get through, and took me almost two weeks to read. There were so many facts about business using solar, which was great to know.   But the facts were not really about the company's journey to solar as much as it was about the cost benefit and the details of the business themselves.  It felt like a sales pitch to me, look we are using solar because it is cheaper, and it is great PR that we are going green, buy from us.  I was dreading the thought of reading 7 more chapters of this.
Then in Chapter 4, it finally got interesting. Warburg began talking about the politics and controversies behind building solar fields on brown fields. Brownfield is a term used in urban planning to describe land previously used for industrial purposes or some commercial uses. Such land may have been contaminated with hazardous waste or pollution or is feared to be so. Once cleaned up, such an area can become host to a business development such as a retail park. It made a lot of sense to me to re-use this land in a positive way.  Finally here was some meat and some interesting controversies and benefits of solar energy.  I began to enjoy the reading.  But then it petered out again, and I couldn't finish i.   I wanted to, but I just couldn't do it.  It was too dry and it just couldn't keep my attention.   I found myself resenting it for the time it was taking away from books I could be enjoying.  I left my bookmark it, but I just wasn't willing to force myself to slog through it anymore.

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