from Energy, Security, and Climate and Energy Security and Climate Change Program

Summer Energy Reading

August 03, 2012

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Technology and Innovation

Fossil Fuels

This blog has been a bit quiet for the past few weeks: I’ve been out on the road reporting for a book on the future of American energy and locked up in my office cranking through the manuscript. I’ll be on vacation for the next week. Before I left, I thought I’d offer a few suggestions for energy-related summer reading:

  1. The End of Country: Dispatches from the Frack Zone, Seamus McGraw. This book is a great window into the sorts of tensions that arise – within communities, families, and individuals – when shale gas wealth descends on towns. It’s a story that you hear over and over when you visit communities that are home to drilling. Well worth reading, especially if you think that the fights over shale gas will be settled through rational debate.
  2. The Innovator’s Dillemma, Clayton Christensen. This business classic about technological disruption seems to be enjoying a resurgence after its author was profiled in the New Yorker a few months back. The article was great, but read the book, especially if you’re trying to think through how new energy technologies might supplant old ones. I think I can weave a story that uses the principles in this book to describe what happened with shale gas (and I might do that in a future post). I’m more hard pressed to come up with a similar story for the future of the electric car, something Christensen does in his final chapter, to what I think is limited success. It’s the only part of the book that left me cold – the rest is absolutely fascinating.
  3. National Petroleum Council Future Transportation Fuels Study: Advancing Technology for America’s Transportation Future. I haven’t had a chance to read through this study, which was released earlier this week, but the briefings I’ve had on its deliberations and content leave me looking forward to doing so. This is a deep looking into the options available to power future transportation, from electric cars to natural gas vehicles to better internal combustion engines. As with all NPC studies, one of the highlights is what isn’t in the report but is posted online: in this case more that two dozen technical background papers on everything from “Emerging Electric Vehicle Business Models” to “Artificial Photosynthesis”.