Keeping Fossil Fuels in the Ground

The transition to 100% renewable energy raises profound questions for the future of our communities and infrastructure, including:

  • Can we produce enough renewable energy to power all the cars and trucks we have today? If not, how should our transportation system change? And what does that mean for land use patterns?
  • What infrastructure—from highways to power lines to communal storage—do we need for a 100% renewable future? What infrastructure can be retrofitted, and what needs to be built new?
  • We know how to build net-positive-energy buildings; but what will it take to make the entire building stock net-positive? Is it possible to build to scale using only renewable energy?
  • Are the architecture, construction, engineering, and planning industries getting ready for a 100% renewable future? Is local government?

Ireland is a small island off the European continent. It should be a nimble, mobile energy market. What we do may not change the world, but it will make us ready. Ireland has few large corporate energy users – Intel, Aughinish Aluminum, Dublin Airport,  but thousands of other points of varied demand, in scattered factories, hospitals, warehouses, farms and offices with millions of homes. We don’t want to lose anyone in the walk to 2050, but what preparations are we, as people and through our elected representatives, as a country making in preparation for a low, intermittent energy supply and all that it means? Brexit might be an early warning as so much fresh food from the Med, the EU comes by truck through Britain. Reminder of WWII and the citrus fruit trade by boat with Portugal!

Even without the 2050 date,  the eventual decline in fossil hydrocarbon flows, and the inability of renewables to fully substitute, will create a deficiency of energy (for food & transport) to power bloated urban cities and require a shift of human populations back to the countryside. In short, the future is rural (farming). Download : https://www.postcarbon.org/publications/the-future-is-rural/

Ireland has a long history of ‘stop-go’ knee-jerk, muddled short-lived initiatives. Can our central and local governments debate and agree a 30-year plan now in 2019 ? Can our politicians set aside funding and the will to carry it out? The Irish Times on 5th March highlights an elderly family living in deplorable conditions in Crumlin because their pension is €9 above the maximum allowed by the box-tickers in Social Welfare supports. Are we really ‘the greatest little country in the world’?

 

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