Decentralized energy master planning is an important process for cities who want to implement decisive steps towards a 100% renewable energy future which can be achieved by a combination of energy efficiency and decentralized renewable energy.
Many countries, cities, regions/states and even some utilities have adopted high renewable energy targets. 59 countries, 72 cities, 63 regions/states, 9 utilities and 21 non-profit/educational/public institutions, totalling more than 1.8 billion people have shifted or have committed to shifting within the next few decades to 100% renewable energy in at least one sector.
Although these cities, states and countries have adopted 100% renewable energy targets they have no idea what mixture of renewable energy resources, technologies and storage they will actually need to deliver their targets. They also have no idea what renewable energy resources, technologies, regulatory regime or business models they will need to benefit consumers.
The laws of physics dictate that electricity will always flow to the nearest electricity demand and the smaller scale of technologies means that most, if not all, of electricity generation will be decentralized and it is important to ascertain the maximum amount of decentralized energy that can be delivered inside the city so that it can be determined what larger scale renewable energy generation needs to be built outside but in proximity to the city. Otherwise, a headlong rush to build large scale renewables remote from the city regardless of any plan will lead to future stranded renewable energy assets and unnecessary grid infrastructure investment.
A Decentralized Energy Master Plan establishes what renewable energy generation can be delivered inside the city and what renewable energy generation is required from outside but in proximity to the city to deliver a 100% renewable energy city. The Master Plan should also identify any regulatory and institutional barriers that will need to be removed and the business models required to implement the Master Plan.
The IEAC provides master planning project management services to help cities deliver Decentralized Energy Master Plans and has developed a Decentralized Energy Master Plan Briefing to assist cities and others in developing their Master Plans.
See also City of Sydney Decentralized Master Plan Case Study as an example of a Decentralized Energy Master Plan.
Allan Jones MBE
21 July 2017