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City Residential Energy and Utility Systems
This chapter will consider the evolution of energy
utilities in the modern city during the era of decarbonization - between now and
Local Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and Micro-nuclear electricity generation, heating gas, water, and sewage are major energy focal points.
Energy system components for powering and heating cities
Recall that old saying about renewable electricities - wind and solar - and freezing in the dark? Renewables can't make practical amounts of heat. Cold LEDs that use almost no electricity are where renewables shine. Heat, via electricity, from fossil fuels is a pretty sorry situation also. You have to burn 3 lumps of coal at the power plant to get one lump of heat in your kitchen to make your coffee.
The residential regions of a city have relatively low electricity energy consumption densities but surprisingly high intermittent heat density loads, becoming severe for home heating in Winter weather for U.S. locations North of St Louis.
Renewable enthusiasts like to point to heat pumps as the reason we won't freeze. Air heat pumps begin to fail to extract heat from the air below freezing, needing to be supplemented by high powered electrical heating rods (Calrods) to maintain even minimal comfort inside the house. (Your author knows. He owns a heat pump heated house near Tampa.)
Building complexes such as downtowns, hospitals, colleges, industrial sections, etc., have relatively high energy needs - say, greater than 3 megawatts year around. In tomorrow's deeply decarbonized world they will need carbon captured gas or oil boilers to produce that amount of heat for heating in the winter and steam powered chillers in the summer. Carbon captured gas and/or oil turbine Cogenerators to supply combined heat and power (CHP) will also provide the electricity wind and solar simply can't.
Wind farms and solar cells will probably always be unable to supply residential heat for most regions of the United States and are definitely out of the question for large building complexes.
Natural gas is the fossil fuel of choice for residential heat with postcombustion carbon captured oil looking promising for large building complexes.
It's difficult to beat a high efficiency gas furnace or gas hot water heater. Gas provides quick, dependable, and comfortable low-cost heat with low CO2 emissions. What's not to like?
What does need to be looked at is the idea of adding 70 psi residential furnace exhaust gas disposal sewer pipes to residential areas of cities to enable carbon capture of their CO2 emissions. Large postcombustion carbon capture facilities not unlike municipal sewage treatment plants could also provide the city with much of its needed electricity while capturing the residential CO2 gas, shipping the liquefied CO2 via large CO2 pipes to sequestration wells.
distribution system showing typical components.
Solar Farm PV Data from: "The Open PV Project" (California data): https://openpv.nrel.gov/rankings
Wind Farm Data from: http://en.openei.org/wiki/Map_of_Wind_Farms Data as of 2012: Total of 1187 U.S. wind project locations, 60,688 megaWatts wind power capacity.
United States' Electricity Transmission Grid Network.
United States' Natural Gas Pipeline Network.
U.S. cities are powered by a combination of electricity and natural gas.
To make one lump of heat from electricity in your toaster, you have to burn three lumps of coal at the power plant.
87% of the world's energy is obtained from fire.
(Below) Here is where our heat can come from.
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