Energy System Needed for the United States (and the World)

  1. Change our terminology from energy we "need" to energy we "want". We can change our wants to fit lower availability of energy, say only renewable energy.
  2. Retrofit many houses and businesses to use less energy. An energy audit will be done for many houses and other buildings to discover how they are losing energy in winter and gaining energy in summer. Houses that have a heating unit and ducts in the attic will have their attics insulated and houses that have a heating unit and ducts in a crawl space or basement will have their crawl spaces or basements insulated. (See House Energy Renovation.)
  3. All new houses are built according to either the EarthCraft, Passiv Haus , LEED-H or Energy Star standards. Most new business buildings are built according to the LEED standard.
  4. Fuel cells, solar photoelectric, hydropower, wind, geothermal and biofuel electricity generators are at homes, work sites and parking garages for local energy uses, to charge electric and hybrid vehicles' batteries and to feed energy into the national electric grid. All possible renewable fuels are used for the fuel cells. That is, create a distributed energy system to supplement, and eventually replace, huge coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear electric power plants, all of which are non-renewable and environmentally-dangerous energy sources..
  5. New and old roofs will have solar-hot-water panels and photovoltaic panels on the south-facing sides and southwest-facing side where feasible. Tall buildings will have photovoltaic panels on the south and southwest sides unless they are shaded from sunlight. These PV systems will mostly be net metered, but some may be off grid with battery backup.
  6. Flat roofs will be converted to green roofs where they are not covered by solar panels.
  7. Building over 10 stories will have wind generators on their roofs where feasible and the roofs will be green roofs.
  8. Where land is available, communities will have medium-sized solar farms nearby for local energy use and for feeding into the national electric grid. These will provide for some emergency energy when regional grids are down.
  9. Communities will have farms and community gardens around them to provide food grown locally. The farms and gardens will have solar greenhouses for producing food in winter months.
  10. Rainwater from many roofs will be collected in large cisterns to use as greywater and for watering home and community gardens nearby. If not cisterns then multiple dry wells to return the rainwater direct to the soil rather to sewers by runoff.
  11. Large wind generators, solar-thermal generators, solar-photoelectric generators and geothermal power plants will be built where feasible and businesses that use large amounts of energy will be built nearby. The hours of operation of the businesses will correspond to the hours when the energy is available. Solar energy is highest during daylight hours and wind energy is highest during nightime hours, so they complement each other. We will learn to use electricity during the daylight and nightime hours when it is available.
  12. Electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles that automatically connect to the national grid and local energy sources when parked at homes, work sites and parking garages. They will be charged during midday when solar energy is plentiful and during midnight when the grid useage is low.
  13. Plug-in vehicles that serve as national and local grid energy storage devices when at rest and drive away as fully charged vehicles for travel. They also serve as electric power backup at the home location. Fast charging and battery-changing stations are scattered all across the nation.
  14. Use biodiesel and alcohol (ethanol and methanol) made from recycled vegetable and animal oils and other wastes and algae as fuels for long-distance trucks and airplanes.
  15. Use the remaining fossil fuels to develop the infrastructure needed to accomplish the items listed above on a large scale, instead of burning them as fuel for transportation.
  16. Store the carbon dioxide created by burning fossil fuels to be released later when the global temperature is falling as the Earth is moving into the next ~110,000-year major ice age.


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L. David Roper interdisciplinary studies

L. David Roper,
5 April, 2016