Future Urban Energy Use – One Scenario for the USA

A Sustainable Energy Scenario for the United States: Year 2050 (31 page pdf, Sustainability 2010, 2(12), 3650-3680, Nov. 26, 2010)

Today’s review article looks at what scenario might emerge over the next 40 years as a result of action taken to make the US sustainable from an energy and climate change perspective  and what this implies for the size and shape of today’s cities. Underpinning the feasibility of such a scenario is the issue of the issue of financing. A carbon tax is assumed to be the most likely mechanism.

Key Quotes:

“suburbs are no more. They have been absorbed into mega-cities or have been transformed into highly self-sufficient eco-communities. About half of the population lives in each type of settlement..Neatly arranged throughout the mega-cities are very high density cores..Neighborhoods of attractive multi-family residences and well integrated commercial, educational and other buildings fill out the rest of the urban landscape.. Each community has its collection of vertical farms, which are multi-story structures designed specifically to grow vegetables, fruits, fish, and poultry “

“The buildings are heated by electricity, solar thermal heating systems, district steam systems, and boilers burning bio-fuels. Appliances in homes are all electric and about 25% more energy efficient than their ancestors from several decades ago”

“The transportation systems in the mega-cities are completely electrified and highly intelligent…electric taxis and buses smoothly traverse the traffic calmed streets.. most residents travel around the city via on-demand public transit

“fossil fuels are also no longer used to produce electricity. In their place is an amalgam of nuclear, concentrated solar, geothermal, wind, and unconventional hydro plants. Therefore, emissions of nitric oxides, sulfur dioxides, mercury, carbon monoxide, and particulates from vehicles and power plants have been eliminated. Tropospheric ozone is also no longer a public and ecological health concern”

“Treeless expanses of manicured turf have been replaced by oases of indigenous flower beds, garden plots, trees, and water gardens. Residents now farm these resources themselves or allow others to grow and harvest the resources for a fee..Increased use of pervious surfaces in the low density settlements will reduce urban run-off. Decreased dependence on corn ethanol and the use of lawns could reduce agricultural and urban run-off of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides”

“By the year 2050.. sprawl will have disappeared. Populations will reside in dense urban settlements or spread out over the landscape in sustainable and maximally environmentally friendly eco-communities”

“ a carbon tax that escalates over a period of time. Revenues from the tax would used to remake the built environment and the energy system.. also allow the government to directly acquire fossil fuel resources and buy-out leases to such resources now owned and held by the private sector”

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