“Omnivorous Energy” – A Strategy for Local Resilience

9 May

John Robb at Global Guerrillas has a provocative pair of posts. First, on energy omnivores vs. specialists:

  1. The generalist (aka The Omnivore).   Able to consume a wide variety of energy although at an efficiency penalty.
  2. The specialist.   Able to access and consume a very narrow type of energy in a highly efficient way.

We’re in an era of change, so the specialist is vulnerable, as the specialist’s favored resources may disappear. But the omnivore can take whatever’s available and so has an advantage. Thus “we need to adopt more of an omnivore strategy in regards to nearly everything we do.” So, broaden your skill set, diversify investments, really diversify: “An omnivorous investment strategy puts resources into communities and technologies that will be there even when most financial assets are imploding.”

A second post talks more directly about energy:

One of the methods I recommend to reduce that vulnerability is to use microgrids. Microgrids are essentially a local controlled electricity network that makes it possible for communities to create dynamic local markets for electricity production and consumption that can zoom innovation and investment.   When we first began to talk about microgrids, the technologies involved were merely plans on paper.  Now, a mere three years later, we see offerings from many major technology companies (with the potential of open source projects that can open up this tech for everyone).

Moving along:

A truly resilient strategy for the local production of energy (both heat and power) should be able to consume nearly any type of fuel.  In essence, our energy consumption strategy needs to be omnivorous — it can eat anything.  Currently, the vast majority of the energy we consume is produced through purchasing and running dedicated systems — i.e. furnaces that burn natural gas, oil, or wood.  Also, these systems must be able to produce a range of outputs, from heat to electrical power as needed.

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