All-Electric America was written by S. David Freeman, who was born in 1926 and has a long career as CEO of various energy companies. The second author is Leah Y. Parks, a journalist covering the electricity sector.
The Kindle edition of this book (which I read) was published in October 2015.
This is an excellent book. I strongly recommend reading it.
The authors make the case for a 100 percent renewable energy system. Actually, the title is slightly misleading. They are talking about “all renewable”, not “all electric”.
They note that solar and wind energy is cheap enough to completely displace fossil fuel in the United States. And, as Kees van der Leun highlighted in this Tweet, they wrote:
US deserts are gold mines for solar power, and its central region is a veritable Saudi-Arabia of wind.
Their case is motivated by global warming, for which they use the interesting rhetoric device of calling it “climate hell”.
But it does not depend on recognizing this danger. The transition to renewable makes economic sense even without that particular motivation.
They don’t like the nuclear option, citing proliferation concerns, dangers from radiation, and the failure of nuclear to deliver low prices.
The most interesting proposal was a call for utilities to own the batteries in electric vehicles. That would of course instantly make those electrical vehicles cheaper purchases than gasoline cars. Since fuel costs are already cheaper, such a move could massively accelerate electric vehicle adoption.
I am not sure what exactly the business model would be. The value for the utility comes from using the car batteries as grid storage capacity. And maybe from using this as a sales point to keep the car owner as a customer.
Figuring out how this makes economic sense for an utility looks like an interesting question.
Of course, if it turns out that this would lose money for the utility under present market conditions, one could think about establishing a feed-in tariff for electricity from car battery storage as an alternative to get this done quickly.
One point where I don’t agree with the authors is at location 371. There they write:
Fossil fuel companies surely to want to burn it all.
There’s a grammar mistake in that sentence. But that’s not the reason I disagree.
Fossil fuel companies want high prices for their products. Guess what happens to those prices if there is a decision to leave 75% in the ground?
The authors note that fossil fuel use needs to decrease by 3% each year to phase them out in the time frame left under a 2 degrees scenario.
Just assume for a moment that the fossil fuel industry agrees and sets up a mining schedule (like Bitcoin has) that does exactly that, and is calculated to leave 75% in the ground.
Obviously, such a decision would instantly lead to massively higher oil prices. Which is great news for the fossil fuel industry in the short term.
It is also great news in the long term. Remember that while oil eventually can’t be burned any more, you can always use it as raw material in the chemical industry without CO2 emissions. Even now, more than 10 percent of oil use is non-fuel.
So even now, the fossil fuel companies don’t want to burn all the oil.
And their interest would be to agree with the authors and Bill McKibben and start reducing their production massively.