Diversity in energy sources is likely to confer resiliency

Just as biodiversity of life forms makes for more resilient biological systems, diversity in energy sources is also likely to confer resiliency to our way of life. And our civilization is dependent on abundant and immediately present energy to do the enormous work of our busy life which is quite impossible for our human muscles. As anyone intimately knows when he has had to push his two thousand pound car even a few feet, not to mention the tens of thousands more of those feet the car must move merely to commute to work that day. We are very dependent on enormous amounts of supplemental energy from external sources, in our daily life.

Electrical energy is often what is considered when we talk of "energy" in daily life, probably because it is so easily transported along wires from its generating source to the point of use, such as to a room's light fixture or a microwave oven cooking dinner at home. So diversity of energy supply seems particularly applicable to electrical energy. This applies most easily to electrical utilities; having some sources of wind power and solar electric power fed into grids mostly energized by coal fired plants and nuclear powerplants, might only provide ten percent of the overall energy from coal and nuclear, but when coal and nuclear quit, that ten percent from wind and solar could become very important to life. Hydroelectric electrical energy is also an important but relatively small contribution to the overall enormous electrical energy we consume each day.

Energy, of course, comes in many forms, some more applicable to specific uses than others. Hydrocarbon combustion is essential for making cement for concrete. Gasoline has been the energy source of convenience for cars for much of a century, because of its portability and usefulness in internal combustion engines. On site windmills were important for lifting water from wells out far from other energy sources, even before electrical or gasoline driven motors were available to lift the water for farm use.

The article "Preparing for climate change 'will boost economy" points out that climate change (regardless of whether mankind's enormous CO2 input to the atmosphere is the primary cause of it, or merely is nature capriciously freaking out nowadays) will increasingly bring interruptions to energy supplies, and being ready to deal with that is prudent. Energy source diversity ought to be a factor in public electric utilities, instead of solely depending on whatever is the lowest cost, making it the only energy source.

It also seems prudent then to include local energy supplies at the user level, such as at each home. A rooftop solar panel that provides say 100 watts in daytime, along with electrical energy storage such as a battery, could provide lighting, computer use, a few minutes microwave cooking, and some small hand tool use during extended main power outages; rooftop water heating could similarly reduce routine energy consumption and provide hot water during outages of power mains. Given suitable places outdoors to use them, solar ovens can cook meals, bake cakes and heat coffee water, when there is no other power source other than a clear sky's sunshine in the daytime. If each home had these prepared, and occasionally in use just for practice and a bit of added energy efficiency, resiliency in basic lifestyle survival could be enhanced greatly.

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