Energy Conversion Goes Local: Implications for Planners

Although the supply-oriented framework within which energy planning has traditionally been conducted may be useful for siting energy facilities, it is not sufficient for mitigating conflicts at the site level, encouraging new technology adoptions, managing the demand for energy or coordinating the diverse users of smaller, local energy facilities. This paper provides an alternative conceptual framework for thinking about emerging energy planning tasks. Factors not considered in the traditional model are highlighted, and terminology is introduced for characterizing key characteristics of the changing energy economy. The author draws on concepts from industrial ecology, urban metabolism, and ecological economics. The new framework is applied to a set of examples illustrating its advantages relative to the traditional approach to energy planning. It is proposed that planners use network models to think about energy systems and focus especially on nodes where energy is converted from one form to another. Understanding the scale, scope, commodification, and agency of such nodes, and whether and when these attributes are open to change, can improve energy planning decisions for traditional energy investments such as power plants and for energy initiatives such as wind farms, rooftop solar systems, energy-efficient buildings, cogeneration, compact growth, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Focusing on energy networks and their nodes can help planners identify points of governmental leverage on private decision makers, keep track of evolving technologies, bundle energy users with different temporal demand profiles, and help build smarter energy networks.


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01105204
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 27 2008 11:50PM