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Powering a carfree city

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  • Will
    ... Two general areas; 1. On-Grid: If the city in on a regional power grid, then buy green power. Not much of an issue there. 2. Off-Grid: If the city is not
    Message 1 of 8 , Feb 8, 2004
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      carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com wrote:

      >I mean, how would you power a carfree city? 100 percent
      >windmills? It'd never work. Tuck in a pair of nuclear plants
      >out in the industrial districts and now you're talking! :)
      >
      >
      Two general areas;

      1. On-Grid: If the city in on a regional power grid, then buy green
      power. Not much of an issue there.

      2. Off-Grid: If the city is not on a regional power grid, there are lots
      of green options (and the more diverse the better), but they get fairly
      sophisticated if there is not some large scale hydro storage capability
      nearby. And having a peaking natural gas turbine would be the most
      reasonable fallback if the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining
      for more than a week or two. Note that everything in the city would
      have to be very energy efficient, and the climate would ideally be
      temperate without much in the way of extremes. There are architectural
      solutions for cold or hot climates, but they can get expensive or
      require significant lifestyle compromises.

      I myself live in a low-energy house that is powered by solar PV and
      heated for the most part by passive solar heat backed up by a
      woodstove. We only use AC if the temperature is forecasted to go above
      85 F (and we are in humid Virginia). The entire house is
      designed/constructed with energy conservation in mind, including all of
      the appliances and HVAC. Near my house is zero-energy home that creates
      as much energy as it uses averaged over the course of a year.

      Though there might be some privacy concerns with respect to passive
      solar, this approach can be replicated on large scale within a city.
      Multi-dwelling structures are more energy efficient than single family
      homes, due primarily to shared walls.

      Will Stewart
    • mauk_mcamuk
      ... Okay, we are talking about a CITY, here. One million people, more or less. The municipal government COULD simply buy power from a major supplier, but I m
      Message 2 of 8 , Feb 9, 2004
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        See replies inline below:

        --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, Will <v_stewart@e...> wrote:
        > carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com wrote:
        >
        > >I mean, how would you power a carfree city? 100 percent
        > >windmills? It'd never work. Tuck in a pair of nuclear plants
        > >out in the industrial districts and now you're talking! :)
        > >
        > >
        > Two general areas;
        >
        > 1. On-Grid: If the city in on a regional power grid, then buy green
        > power. Not much of an issue there.
        >

        Okay, we are talking about a CITY, here. One million people, more or
        less. The municipal government COULD simply buy power from a major
        supplier, but I'm not sure there IS that much green power. :)


        > 2. Off-Grid: If the city is not on a regional power grid, there are
        lots
        > of green options (and the more diverse the better), but they get
        fairly
        > sophisticated if there is not some large scale hydro storage
        capability
        > nearby.


        Hydro and windmills would be ideal, but good luck getting a new hydro
        project past the eco-wackies. :)

        Heck, sadly enough, it's starting to look like windmills will be
        facing the same sort of opposition. <sigh>


        > And having a peaking natural gas turbine would be the most
        > reasonable fallback if the wind stops blowing and the sun stops
        shining
        > for more than a week or two.


        A week or two? Are you talking about using some kind of a storage
        battery system? That would be...expensive. The carfree city
        reference design is so compact you'd save a bundle on transmission
        lines, but still.... Or are you counting on getting a hydro
        installation?

        Also, combined-cycle gas turbines are far from ideal. They emit CO2,
        NOx, and aren't exactly cheap to run. Gas is expensive right
        now. :) If you are going to use gas, plumb the whole city and use it
        for home heating. Of course, then you have to worry about gas main
        explosions and the like....

        A more sensible alternative is to install a nuke or two and pipe
        the "waste" heat out as district heating when the weather warrants
        it. Maybe provide warm steam to heat pumps in the wintertime, that
        sort of deal.... Hrrrrm.



        > Note that everything in the city would
        > have to be very energy efficient, and the climate would ideally be
        > temperate without much in the way of extremes.


        More siting restrictions. Where exactly could we build this ideal
        model city?


        > There are architectural
        > solutions for cold or hot climates, but they can get expensive or
        > require significant lifestyle compromises.
        >

        I concur. Flipping the coin over, though, with enough clean power,
        many sites that are not viable for a current city could be used for a
        Carfree City. For example, if you design for a cold climate from the
        ground up, why couldn't you build a Carfree City on Victoria Island?
        Bound to be beautiful sightseeing up there, and for sure you could
        have your pick of locations. :)

        Buy up 100 square miles with the best scenery, install some nukes,
        use the waste heat for free district heating, and hang the cold. You
        could name the city "Aurora." It would be a tourist destination!


        > I myself live in a low-energy house that is powered by solar PV and
        > heated for the most part by passive solar heat backed up by a
        > woodstove. We only use AC if the temperature is forecasted to go
        above
        > 85 F (and we are in humid Virginia). The entire house is
        > designed/constructed with energy conservation in mind, including
        all of
        > the appliances and HVAC. Near my house is zero-energy home that
        creates
        > as much energy as it uses averaged over the course of a year.
        >


        I agree that window placement, super-insulation, and a whole-house
        controller can get major advances in efficiency, but at what costs?
        And more important, where are you going to get a million people to
        live in it?



        > Though there might be some privacy concerns with respect to passive
        > solar, this approach can be replicated on large scale within a
        city.
        > Multi-dwelling structures are more energy efficient than single
        family
        > homes, due primarily to shared walls.
        >

        Yup!

        > Will Stewart
      • william stewart
        ... Sure there is; www.greenpower.com ... There is a hydro storage facility near my home; there was broadbased support for its construction.
        Message 3 of 8 , Feb 10, 2004
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          >
          >
          >From: "mauk_mcamuk" <mauk2@...>
          >
          >
          >
          >>1. On-Grid: If the city in on a regional power grid, then buy green
          >>power. Not much of an issue there.
          >>
          >
          >Okay, we are talking about a CITY, here. One million people, more or
          >less. The municipal government COULD simply buy power from a major
          >supplier, but I'm not sure there IS that much green power. :)
          >
          Sure there is; www.greenpower.com

          >>2. Off-Grid: If the city is not on a regional power grid, there are
          >>
          >>
          >lots
          >
          >
          >>of green options (and the more diverse the better), but they get
          >>
          >>
          >fairly
          >
          >
          >>sophisticated if there is not some large scale hydro storage
          >>
          >>
          >capability
          >
          >
          >>nearby.
          >>
          >>
          >
          >
          >Hydro and windmills would be ideal, but good luck getting a new hydro
          >project past the eco-wackies. :)
          >
          There is a hydro storage facility near my home; there was broadbased
          support for its construction.
          http://www.dom.com/about/stations/hydro/bath.jsp

          >
          >Heck, sadly enough, it's starting to look like windmills will be
          >facing the same sort of opposition. <sigh>
          >
          >
          There are tremendous amounts of wind power being added to the US energy
          market every year.
          http://www.awea.org/pubs/documents/globalmarket2003.pdf

          >>And having a peaking natural gas turbine would be the most
          >>reasonable fallback if the wind stops blowing and the sun stops
          >>
          >>
          >shining
          >
          >
          >>for more than a week or two.
          >>
          >>
          >
          >
          >A week or two? Are you talking about using some kind of a storage
          >battery system? That would be...expensive. The carfree city
          >reference design is so compact you'd save a bundle on transmission
          >lines, but still.... Or are you counting on getting a hydro
          >installation?
          >
          Hydrogen is an excellent storage medium as well, and large scale fuel
          cells are an existing technology.

          >
          >Also, combined-cycle gas turbines are far from ideal. They emit CO2,
          >NOx, and aren't exactly cheap to run. Gas is expensive right
          >now. :)
          >
          They emit very low amount of CO2 and NOX in comparison to coal. Again,
          only used on a spot basis.

          >A more sensible alternative is to install a nuke or two and pipe
          >the "waste" heat out as district heating when the weather warrants
          >it. Maybe provide warm steam to heat pumps in the wintertime, that
          >sort of deal.... Hrrrrm.
          >
          Now I see your spin. Sorry, can't say I'd like a terrorist target near
          my home that would wipe out the entire city.

          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >> Note that everything in the city would
          >>have to be very energy efficient, and the climate would ideally be
          >>temperate without much in the way of extremes.
          >>
          >>
          >
          >
          >More siting restrictions. Where exactly could we build this ideal
          >model city?
          >
          Note the qualfier "ideally".

          >
          >
          >
          >
          >>There are architectural
          >>solutions for cold or hot climates, but they can get expensive or
          >>require significant lifestyle compromises.
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >
          >I concur. Flipping the coin over, though, with enough clean power,
          >many sites that are not viable for a current city could be used for a
          >Carfree City. For example, if you design for a cold climate from the
          >ground up, why couldn't you build a Carfree City on Victoria Island?
          >Bound to be beautiful sightseeing up there, and for sure you could
          >have your pick of locations. :)
          >
          >Buy up 100 square miles with the best scenery, install some nukes,
          >use the waste heat for free district heating, and hang the cold. You
          >could name the city "Aurora." It would be a tourist destination!
          >
          >
          You said 'clean power'; nukes have the pesky problem of dirty
          radioactive waste.

          >
          >
          >
          >>I myself live in a low-energy house that is powered by solar PV and
          >>heated for the most part by passive solar heat backed up by a
          >>woodstove. We only use AC if the temperature is forecasted to go
          >>
          >>
          >above
          >
          >
          >>85 F (and we are in humid Virginia). The entire house is
          >>designed/constructed with energy conservation in mind, including
          >>
          >>
          >all of
          >
          >
          >>the appliances and HVAC. Near my house is zero-energy home that
          >>
          >>
          >creates
          >
          >
          >>as much energy as it uses averaged over the course of a year.
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >
          >
          >I agree that window placement, super-insulation, and a whole-house
          >controller can get major advances in efficiency, but at what costs?
          >
          About $1300 more than a typical 2500sf home. Not much, especially when
          I purchased a manufactured home and saved about $40,000.

          >And more important, where are you going to get a million people to
          >live in it?
          >
          >
          >
          Where the city is, of course.


          Will
        • Patrick McDonough
          We are buying green power here in NC through a great program set up by the state and energy companies. www.ncgreenpower.com
          Message 4 of 8 , Feb 10, 2004
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            We are buying green power here in NC through a great program set up by the
            state and energy companies.

            www.ncgreenpower.com
          • mauk_mcamuk
            ... I m sorry, but that link goes to a company selling juicers. How is that indicative that there s anough gren power for sale on the US grid to supply a
            Message 5 of 8 , Feb 10, 2004
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              See replies inline below:

              > >
              > Sure there is; www.greenpower.com


              I'm sorry, but that link goes to a company selling juicers.

              How is that indicative that there's anough gren power for sale on the
              US grid to supply a full-on city of a million people? Even a very
              efficient one?


              >
              > >
              > >
              > >Hydro and windmills would be ideal, but good luck getting a new
              hydro
              > >project past the eco-wackies. :)
              > >
              > There is a hydro storage facility near my home; there was
              broadbased
              > support for its construction.
              > http://www.dom.com/about/stations/hydro/bath.jsp


              That was built 20 years ago. Today, opposition to hydropower is
              widespread, and some existing dams have had to be dismantled due to
              ecological concerns. (Remember the opposition to the Three Gorges
              Dam?)

              That said, I like hydropower (as I stated before) but I am also a
              realist. Getting a hydropower project approved today, especially a
              large one, is going to be a real chore.

              Not to mention that there really aren't that many good large-scale
              hydropower sites left in the USA... or the world, for that matter.

              >
              > >
              > >Heck, sadly enough, it's starting to look like windmills will be
              > >facing the same sort of opposition. <sigh>
              > >
              > >
              > There are tremendous amounts of wind power being added to the US
              energy
              > market every year.
              > http://www.awea.org/pubs/documents/globalmarket2003.pdf
              >

              The wind power industry in the US is basically at a standstill right
              now, because the Energy Bill was filibustered. The Energy Bill
              contained the extension for the tax credit for wind power. Without
              that energy credit, wind power cannot compete, and no new windmills
              get installed.

              Yes, this really sucks, and Congress should stop being silly and pass
              the Energy Bill.


              > >
              > >A week or two? Are you talking about using some kind of a storage
              > >battery system? That would be...expensive. The carfree city
              > >reference design is so compact you'd save a bundle on transmission
              > >lines, but still.... Or are you counting on getting a hydro
              > >installation?
              > >
              > Hydrogen is an excellent storage medium as well, and large scale
              fuel
              > cells are an existing technology.


              Ah! I agree.

              That said, this is not going to be inexpensive, though.


              >
              > >
              > >Also, combined-cycle gas turbines are far from ideal. They emit
              CO2,
              > >NOx, and aren't exactly cheap to run. Gas is expensive right
              > >now. :)
              > >
              > They emit very low amount of CO2 and NOX in comparison to coal.
              Again,
              > only used on a spot basis.


              Also true, but gas is still expensive and has a nasty habit of
              blowing up. Plus, nuclear power emits fewer greenhouse gases than
              gas turbines. So do windmills, and hydropower.


              >
              > >A more sensible alternative is to install a nuke or two and pipe
              > >the "waste" heat out as district heating when the weather warrants
              > >it. Maybe provide warm steam to heat pumps in the wintertime,
              that
              > >sort of deal.... Hrrrrm.
              > >
              > Now I see your spin. Sorry, can't say I'd like a terrorist target
              near
              > my home that would wipe out the entire city.
              >



              Oh, good grief. Way to be alarmist! Nuclear power plants are
              required to have hefty security forces onsite, and have solid
              physical security. Not to mention that any new nuclear plant would
              be built MUCH more safely than the current crop of plants. We can
              build better cars now than in the 70's, why can't we build better
              power plants?

              If you look at the facts, nuclear power has killed fewer people than
              any other major source of power. This isn't spin, it's fact.

              For a Carfree City, why not use the cleanest, safest power you can?
              That means nuclear, wind, and hydro are your best choices.

              As a matter of fact, nuclear power plants are small and easily tucked
              out of sight, I could readily see you putting a couple of them a
              hundred miles away from the city itself and running powerlines.
              There, safety assured. :)


              > >

              > >
              > >
              > You said 'clean power'; nukes have the pesky problem of dirty
              > radioactive waste.
              >


              Which is easily rectified by recycling, geological storage, or both.
              The perceived problems with nuclear are all old problems, and good
              solutions to them are now readily achieved.



              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > Where the city is, of course.
              >


              So, Victoria Island, anyone? :) Or maybe Baffin Island?


              >
              > Will
            • dubluth
              If you are going to reply, please read the entire post and make a good faith effort to understand before you begin. All this talk of electical generation
              Message 6 of 8 , Feb 11, 2004
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                If you are going to reply, please read the entire post and make a good
                faith effort to understand before you begin.

                All this talk of electical generation source for a car free city is a
                bit beside the point. A modern city does need electrical power, but
                the issues of this group were originally building a city without cars
                and the exclusion of cars from cities. For other people, the source
                of power IS their issue and they are only interested in powering the
                proposed city with or without nuclear, depending on their inclination.

                As far as I'm concerned, the only thing of worth to come from this
                discussion is the reminder that there are a numerous necessary inputs
                to a city and energy is one of them.

                Electrical generation capacity already exists. I'm not moved by
                advocacy for more electrical generation capacity when it comes from
                someone who argues as though ever more energy for heating and for
                running machinery is virtue itself.

                How should society decide how much capacity to build? The market is a
                pretty good guide. Building more capacity has costs, and if the costs
                of building and operating aren't recovered from ratepayers over time,
                the investors have to figure they made a mistake.

                If a carfree city were built within this generation, its population
                would immigrate from other areas. Some of those areas would be
                supplied by the same grid that the city could tap into. It seems
                that, while the car-free city's per-capita energy demand would be well
                below the national average, the demand for electical power would
                likely rise because of the mass-transit system. Even if overall
                demand rises, that doesn't assure that the cost of building and
                operating a new power unit would be justified by the market.

                Of course since the building of domestic nuclear facilities in the US
                ended some time back, conditioning a car-free city on a new nuclear
                facility might be an assurance that no car-free city would happen for
                many more years. I don't favor inviting more impediments.

                As far as wind and hydro power, the unquestioning acceptance of these
                is no better than an over-reaction against or for nuclear (no pun
                intended). Not everyone believes that a unit of electricity
                generation should take precedence over the wildlife by harmed by dams
                and killed by windmills. Hopefully the environmental oversight
                process won't be gutted for the sake of erecting someone's favorite
                type of generating station.

                Bill Carr
              • mauk_mcamuk
                ... good ... ?? What do you think I am failing to understand? ... a ... but ... cars ... IE, using old-fashioned muscle to supply much of your people-moving
                Message 7 of 8 , Feb 11, 2004
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                  --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "dubluth" <dubluth@y...> wrote:
                  > If you are going to reply, please read the entire post and make a
                  good
                  > faith effort to understand before you begin.
                  >


                  ?? What do you think I am failing to understand?


                  > All this talk of electical generation source for a car free city is
                  a
                  > bit beside the point. A modern city does need electrical power,
                  but
                  > the issues of this group were originally building a city without
                  cars
                  > and the exclusion of cars from cities.


                  IE, using old-fashioned muscle to supply much of your people-moving
                  budget. This strikes me as an excellent idea, we're too fat
                  already. :)

                  Plus, cars are dangerous, they isolate people, they dehumanize the
                  city in scale and attractiveness, etc, etc.

                  I get it.

                  But as I posted, cars are only a fraction of our total energy usage,
                  and continuing to use coal is, frankly, stupid. :)


                  > For other people, the source
                  > of power IS their issue and they are only interested in powering
                  the
                  > proposed city with or without nuclear, depending on their
                  inclination.
                  >

                  The power source for a Carfree City is only one aspect I am
                  interested in. I am VERY intrigued by the possibilities of high-
                  bandwidth datalinks in such a city, embodied by fiber-to-the-home for
                  every building. The topology to do this could be interesting. More
                  importantly, the affects on life could be profound.

                  I am also intrigued by the way a Carfree City could affect Unions.
                  Would cottage industry become a major factor again? What about
                  protectionism? Since a Carfree City, at least as I understand the
                  model, has far fewer ingress points than a traditional city, would
                  entry fees become common? What about security checks to get in? If
                  the local unit of polity is currently the county/city within a state,
                  how would more or less independent Carfree Cities cause changes?
                  Would tax moneys flow into or out of Carfree Cities? Etc, etc.


                  > As far as I'm concerned, the only thing of worth to come from this
                  > discussion is the reminder that there are a numerous necessary
                  inputs
                  > to a city and energy is one of them.
                  >

                  Yup! I will posit that it is a rather vital one, though. If the
                  lights are off and people are cold, it's not fun anymore. :)


                  > Electrical generation capacity already exists. I'm not moved by
                  > advocacy for more electrical generation capacity when it comes from
                  > someone who argues as though ever more energy for heating and for
                  > running machinery is virtue itself.
                  >

                  Are you at all familiar with history? In general, access to more
                  energy = better quality of living. Do you expect this trend to
                  reverse? If so, why, and how?

                  More importantantly, existing generation capapcity is horribly dirty
                  stuff. Do you LIKE coal or something?


                  > How should society decide how much capacity to build? The market
                  is a
                  > pretty good guide. Building more capacity has costs, and if the
                  costs
                  > of building and operating aren't recovered from ratepayers over
                  time,
                  > the investors have to figure they made a mistake.
                  >
                  > If a carfree city were built within this generation, its population
                  > would immigrate from other areas. Some of those areas would be
                  > supplied by the same grid that the city could tap into. It seems
                  > that, while the car-free city's per-capita energy demand would be
                  well
                  > below the national average, the demand for electical power would
                  > likely rise because of the mass-transit system. Even if overall
                  > demand rises, that doesn't assure that the cost of building and
                  > operating a new power unit would be justified by the market.
                  >

                  The US population is rising nicely, driven by immigration. Honestly,
                  though, I would expect a Carfree City to be built first in a place
                  with much less infrastructure than we have now. I have suggested the
                  far north of Canada already, I could also point at India as a likely
                  place, or perhaps China.



                  > Of course since the building of domestic nuclear facilities in the
                  US
                  > ended some time back, conditioning a car-free city on a new nuclear
                  > facility might be an assurance that no car-free city would happen
                  for
                  > many more years. I don't favor inviting more impediments.


                  Okay, some more facts. I know they're pesky things, but I believe in
                  being informed. :)

                  The US nuclear power industry added the equivalent of 13 1000
                  megawatt plants of production between 1998 and 2002 alone.

                  http://www.nei.org/index.asp?catnum=2&catid=49

                  It did this through becoming more efficient, and adding uprates to
                  existing plants.

                  The existing fleet of plants has about reached the limits of how much
                  can be gained through this process, so nuclear power utilties are
                  quietly starting the process of building new plants.

                  http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-licensing/license-reviews/esp.html

                  Add in the fact that there are 4 reactors with still-valid
                  construction permits, it becomes obvious that the US has been
                  building nuclear power without a pause for the last 30 years.

                  The industry has just been subtle about it. :)




                  >
                  > As far as wind and hydro power, the unquestioning acceptance of
                  these
                  > is no better than an over-reaction against or for nuclear (no pun
                  > intended).


                  LOL! I like it, though! :)



                  > Not everyone believes that a unit of electricity
                  > generation should take precedence over the wildlife by harmed by
                  dams
                  > and killed by windmills. Hopefully the environmental oversight
                  > process won't be gutted for the sake of erecting someone's favorite
                  > type of generating station.
                  >

                  Okay, let's look at this dispassionately for a moment.

                  One of the reasons why I like Carfree Cities is because I have an
                  interest in high-density living for humans. It is a fact, that if we
                  could achieve a population density equal to that of Manhattan for the
                  entire human race, the current population of the world, all 6 billion-
                  plus of us, could live in Texas. (Yes, this requires overall
                  population densities quite a bit higher than the reference design,
                  but it is not THAT large of a stretch to get there.)

                  Carfree Cities are the best-realized scheme I have come upon to date
                  to make such high-density living not only palatable, but downright
                  attractive. I'd LIKE living in such a place!

                  If the human race all wanted to move into high-density environments,
                  we could, for example, move large numbers of us to less-valuable
                  territory (like Victoria Island) and leave the entire rest of the
                  world alone. Wouldn't it be nice to let the entire Eastern Seaboard
                  revert to temperate forest? If people treat the entire world as a
                  park, but maximally utilize small chunks of less-valuable land, the
                  damage done to those less-valuable pieces is more than offset by the
                  recovery of the rest of the place. Right?

                  Enticing people to live in high-density environments strikes me as a
                  darn good idea. :) If that means designing using every technology
                  available, so be it.
                • Bijan Soleymani
                  ... Cars consume more energy than walking, bicycles and mass transit, therefore cars = better quality of living. Therefore this whole carfree thing is a waste
                  Message 8 of 8 , Feb 12, 2004
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                    "mauk_mcamuk" <mauk2@...> writes:

                    > Are you at all familiar with history? In general, access to more
                    > energy = better quality of living. Do you expect this trend to
                    > reverse? If so, why, and how?

                    Cars consume more energy than walking, bicycles and mass transit,
                    therefore cars = better quality of living. Therefore this whole
                    carfree thing is a waste of time. We should make sure each person has
                    a personal jet aircraft. So that their quality of life can be even
                    better :)

                    Bijan
                    --
                    Bijan Soleymani <bijan@...>
                    http://www.crasseux.com
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