Alternate energy choices were once the topic of discussion among a few idealistic hippie-types, but suddenly even mainstream white-collar America has taken up the consideration of wind and solar. Of course, solar panels are what most of us think of as the power generators of the future, but author Paul Gipe’s guide for community-scale wind systems, Wind Energy Basics, makes clear that a bank of solar collectors isn’t the only – or even the best—option for reducing electric bills and healing the environment. In fact, a combination of wind and solar technology may be the marriage made in a sustainable heaven. What Gipe gives us in this jam-packed second edition of his bestselling classic is the plain, unvarnished truth about the viability and potential of wind energy.
A relative few have taken their search for energy independence to the level of Oliver Wendell Douglas on “Green Acres,” who monitored points for electricity usage. For most of us, though, the comfort of electricity is something we dare not give up, so grid-tied systems – alternative energy sources that connect to our traditional electricity generation source—seem to be an ideal way to save money while keeping our AC and plasma screens up and running. We could be wrong about that. “Net metering appeals to policy wonks because it rarely threatens entrenched electric utilities…” Gipe warns, “while doing little of substance.”
In the same plain-spoken style, Wind Energy Basics spells out the pertinent facts without any effort to sell readers on a system that, while environmentally friendly, may not be the ideal power source for a particular individual or community. Gipe includes a thoughtful and eminently practical chapter on the technology of wind turbines, complete with a warning about scams, frauds, and flakes. Gipe is even so upfront that he lists specific brands of wind power generators to avoid.
In fact, Gipe explains everything the reader needs to know in order to make an informed choice about the usefulness of wind turbines, such as site requirements, installation, and combining wind and solar for best effect. Gipe doesn’t claim that wind energy is a perfect solution; he is careful to include information about drawbacks and problems associated with this type of alternative energy source.
Wind Energy Basics wastes no pages on preaching or persuasion; rather, this is a book filled with details that readers want and need. Gipe is one of the best teachers of the subject you’ll find. Articulate, often witty, and in touch with the realistic needs and goals of the consumer, he is also a highly respected figure in the field of sustainable and renewable energy. This book is a must-read for anyone considering a change to alternative energy sources.