Every Building a Power Station

Every house, every building, an electricity generating station

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

In order for us to continue to enjoy electrical power, sustainable power, once the oil age is over, something that seems to be closer than ever, every house, every building, every dwelling, must become an electricity generating station by means of wind and solar.

The power generated in this way must be of such a type that it can be stored in batteries for use when not enough wind or sun, and storing the energy cannot be done with our current – pardon the pun – system of alternating current of 110 – 240 volts.

Alternating current (AC) cannot be stored in batteries, only direct current (DC) can and thus we must change our system. This will require changes but those will have to be made.

This means, however, that the way we live will (have to) change in many aspects, transportation is one of them.

As far as electricity for anything, bar heavy industrial applications is concerned, we will be able to continue with a lot of it if we turn each and every building into a power station.

Turbines on the bridges over the Thames should become as common as trees in forests, as must turbine forests and PVs on houses and other buildings. The technology is there for this and capable inverters too for those appliances that may need higher voltage in AC.

One thing electric – and powered in any other way – that we better come to realize will be history, is the car and motorized transportation.

People think the cars and such will continue but with electric motors or running on bio-fuels. That, however, is, in my opinion, nothing but a dream only. Charging electric cars, especially many of them, just will not be feasible – regardless of how much they are being hyped by manufacturers.

Driving cars in any way, shape or form, if this I am sure, will soon end and human-powered vehicles, that is to say, bicycles and their derivatives, and animal-drawn ones will be the norm again. But I digressed.

With every building, every home, office, etc., being a power station, we will be able to maintain our communications, our computers and the Internet, I should think, and much of the other electrical uses we have become accustomed to, such as electric light, though this will be low-voltage LEDs and such, radios, etc.

Computers in home and offices and even elsewhere, and other appliances, including lighting, does not need high voltage AC but need only 12 volt DC, for instance. And thus small turbines and PVs on each and every building should be able to keep everything running nicely.

With oil or other fossil fuels having run out or are becoming too expensive to extract to be viable, and with nuclear being not and option – aside from the fact that without oil you can't extract and then process the uranium – we only have the renewable, natural power options; wind, solar, water, wave, tidal and current, and, maybe, using methane gas as a power source.

Wind is an option that, together with PV (solar) panels, can turn each and every building, essentially, into an electricity generating plant.

Hydro-power plants can be large and small scale and the same is true for wave and current too.

With current power I am referring to turbines that are set in the flow steam of rivers and brooks, into the prevailing current, where water wheels on the shores are not an option, or as an addition to those.

Our main aim must be for wind and solar on every available building, from the humbles dwelling to the largest building in the cities.

None of those turbines need to be gigantic or obtrusive and neither need they be a problem in any other way.

The one thing that is, alas, missing – it would appear – is the political will and conviction to – one – tell the people that we are headed for an end to the oil age and – two – to in fact let such building of home power stations to go ahead.

We only need to look at our cities, whether London, Paris, Amsterdam, or New York or Chicago. There is roof space galore where wind could be captures and solar and turned into electricity. And not only is this feasible; it is something we must do and it is now that we must do it.

While it certainly will take a little getting used to, the skyline of our cities, towns and villages with wind turbines and solar panels everywhere, soon it will be no more different in our minds than it was before, but it will make a great difference to energy security of our countries. I also believe that the Planet will thank us.

While we may just about beginning to properly run out of oil – and there may still be a little while to goo as regards too coal – and when I say “running out of” I am, as said, referring to the running out of the oil, gas and coal that is viable to be gotten out of the ground – but we should do this transition to making every building a power station now, without further delay.

© 2010

For more on Peak Oil and about what a world after the oil age could be like in my new book “The End of Oil” published by Tatchipen Media and available via: http://the-end-of-oil.blogspot.com/ and you can read an extract here.