Green Energy: Sustainable Energy Sources And Alternative Technologies

Green Energy: Sustainable Energy Sources And Alternative Technologies

Wendy Miller (Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia) and Janis Birkeland (Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-775-6.ch001
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Abstract

Despite the general evolution and broadening of the scope of the concept of infrastructure in many other sectors, the energy sector has maintained the same narrow boundaries for over 80 years. Energy infrastructure is still generally restricted in meaning to the transmission and distribution networks of electricity and, to some extent, gas. This is especially true in the urban development context. This early 20th century system is struggling to meet community expectations that the industry itself created and fostered for many decades. The relentless growth in demand and changing political, economic and environmental challenges require a shift from the traditional ‘predict and provide’ approach to infrastructure which is no longer economically or environmentally viable. Market deregulation and a raft of demand and supply side management strategies have failed to curb society’s addiction to the commodity of electricity. None of these responses has addressed the fundamental problem. This chapter presents an argument for the need for a new paradigm. Going beyond peripheral energy efficiency measures and the substitution of fossil fuels with renewables, it outlines a new approach to the provision of energy services in the context of 21st century urban environments.
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Introduction

Contemporary responses to solving growing energy demand in the context of climate change and carbon constraints have typically focused on the two ends of our one-way linear energy infrastructure: reducing the greenhouse emissions of our electricity generators and reducing and controlling energy demand. Very little consideration has been given to re-defining our preconceived definitions and approaches to the delivery of energy to our urban communities. Achieving long term sustainability as well as social equality in the energy sector will require a focus on the energy services required in an urban context, and the planning and implementation of a ‘living organism’ network of independent ‘energy cells’. This chapter discusses technologies and processes that can be integrated to address achieving long term social, ecological and economic sustainability in the energy sector.

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