RE: energy options WAS energy futures
I'm sorry if I have annoyed you with my argumentation - I hope you like to
chew into an argument as that is what I am inviting here so as to refine
thinking. Argument and discussion is a good thing for the discovery of
truth, especially about the really important things like energy.
I do consider you a friend and hope you will visit the Yarrow Ecovillage
when you come by Vancouver soon. Anybody else on this list is invited to
come and see as well. We already have somebody visit who drove in from
Midwest just to see us (as part of a vacation) but he thinks he might
I can tell you are have thought much and care about the energy situation for
the good of our clients, friends and family. You are one of the few on this
list who woke up to my call about energy and relevant permaculture. How
might we get a real debate going on the permaculture list serve? I'd like
to change the thread name to Permaculture and Energy or Energy Options.
Energy futures is suggestive of merely predictions not actionable options we
> On Wed, 27 Aug 2003 10:15:13 -0700, Harold Waldock wrote
> > It is cheap and efficient to put a hot water to air "radiator" into a
> > standard gas furnace less than $1000 and you can keep the gas burning
> > component for back up or peaking.
> yup, it might be "cheap" but this is only part of a district heating
> system...think about the $ and energy costs of: installing heat
> at the electricity plant; mining, refining, shipping and installing
> kilometres of large-diameter pipes to individual houses...a CAREFUL full-
> cycle energy (& EMERGY) analysis is needed here.
Yes, it would not work well in many suburban subdivisions but in higher
density situations it works quite well all over Europe as retrofits. CHP -
District heating systems lend themselves to biomass operations , ground
source heat pumps, utility scale renewable power as well.
Emergy Analysis: I am concerned about analysis paralysis otherwise known as
utopian idealism here. While emergy may show relatively poor results,
district heating would be transitional and far better than what we have now.
But transitional is all we have to achieve in our lifetime. Let the perfect
design be perfected over time. I propose to the Permaculture Movement a
saying, "If it is not transitional it is not Permaculture." The idea lurks
in many of the PC writings.
by the way, if you have a water district heating system, WHY
> would you keep
> an inefficient gas-fired furnace for backup?? the district heat would be
> very RELIABLE.
Permaculture design teaches "Many elements for a single function" and
"Prepare for disaster". Also it is a selling point for people afraid to get
into a service as they can also back out of easily.
> > A local company http://www.taylormunro.com/index.html is designing
> > a system that has solar hotwater panels, hotwater tank and then it
> > preheats your hotwater with a tankless heater and has a line out to
> > the forced air system so it will heat your house.
> I know of them well and their installations in Courtney/Comox. I've also
> worked on projects like this here...if you contemplate this type
> of system,
> you have no need for a district heating system...are you petitioning for
> what I said in my last email post? "snip"
No just being interesting, by including nearly irrelevant info as an aside.
See next comment also though.
> "...my gut feel (maybe
> > > someone could challenge/confirm this with facts / figures in the
> > > future???)
> > > is it would be better to keep the existing infrastructure and
> upgrade our
> > > buildings rather than put in new infrastructure...I suspect
> > > weatherstripping, insulating and adding a "solar engine"
> would be energy-
> > > wise and economically cheaper than bringing NEW pipelines down
> > > the street,
> > > installing NEW heat circulation systems (e.g. radiators),"etc
I've been told over and over again that it is cheaper (financially
sustainable and sustainable) to build and design directly for sustainability
than to try to modify in major ways an existing building. The vast majority
of existing houses have no solar orientation, little insulation, few big
south facing windows etc etc. There is more value to starting over in most
cases. This is the problem of not working from the edges in classic PC
style where one can start over where as when one starts from the centre -
suburbia and an established house - things are much harder. Alternately is
would be wise to run down the asset and take what is valuable (wood from the
frame) and start over.
Actually, I am forced to think about CHP & district heating because solar
hot water/space heating has such poor payback locally- still 20 years at
current gas prices. Ground source heat pump is good but a pricey retrofit
at Can$10,000-15,000. I suspect district heating could be connected to a
pipe in the street for less than a new condensing gas furnace CAN$3000-
4000 plus frequent repairs. $1000 minimum for putting an air to water heat
exchanger into old gas furnace and around CAN$1600 to install a hotwater
pipe (my friend just had her fresh water supply reinstalled for that price).
District hot water energy costs might be up to 1/3 gas energy costs and much
The key to the cost effectiveness of a district heating system is the
density of users and the competition.
> so, my question to you is: are you agreeing with me, extending my
> point or
> disagreeing??? it is unclear...if you are attempting to disagree
> with what I
> said, I'd love to see the logical backup information so we can
> make better
> decisions about how/where to apply our time/money/resources.
> > It is rediculous to say that buying hotwater from a hot water
> > district is more socialist than buying btu's from oil or gas
> > suppliers. What would be socialist is to continue to pay oil and
> > gas suppliers high prices when it is cheaper (usually much cheaper)
> > to get hot water from a hot water district.
> I did not say "buying hotwater from a hot water district is more
> socialist"...I said I think it may be PERCEIVED as such and resisted
> (perhaps quite vigorously) accordingly . Permaculture must deal with
> the "invisible" structures. Alberta, where I live is a very
> conservative, do-
> it-yourself, look-out-for-yourself, more-Texas-than-Texas (we have no
> progressive balancing communities such as Austin), wild-west, free-market
Yes, I missed the word perceived. I'm sorry. I attacked what you said what
others would say as what you said but I only attacked what was said not you
as a person.
I agree invisible structures must be dealt with and I am no good at that.
Have you got hints? District heating does not have to be marketed in a
socialist form. Gas companies might complain of predatory pricing though.
Here in BC the pressure is on to increase electrical rates lest natural gas
become more expensive and homeowners switch to electricity.
Perhaps Alberta has changed from the days when it was leader with
Saskatchewan in creating coops and developing the ideas behind the old
Social Credit Party. All I can say, and have been saying, is that in
densely populated neighbourhoods of Alberta, companies with a district
heating & combined heat and power operation can offer cheap heat cheaper
than any gas company. There are 2 companies that are doing this now in
Canada one of them lately pairing up with greenhouses.
> Electricity and natural gas were, until a few years ago, public
> utilities - i.e. established and managed for the benefit of the
> public. Now,
> these are private ("deregulated") utilities - it is now a
> "dog-eat-dog" free
> market. To establish a business case for district heating
> generally requires
> co-operation: everybody can benefit in the long term if people work
> together...but only if they work together...it costs more $ at the
> electricity plant, it costs more $ to link the buildings together with
> pipes, and a large number of people have to do this together (i.e. co-
> operatively). Around here, anything smacking of co-operation or "good for
> all" is seen as a form of "socialism"...it certainly is not the
> vision of "each individual get the most they can". I don't hold much hope
> for sizable district heating around here in the near future, unless it's
> implemented by private developers.
When considering CHP operations the power is where money is made where as
the heating district might be considered gravy - extra. Cooperation in a
formal sense of "a coop" is not necessary. Consumer aggregation is
necessary and that is the job of marketing just like every new condo - if
the buyers sign up the building will be built and the condo owners will get
good value if all goes well. (BTW Condo law was developed from coops needing
each individual to have financial holdings - people do not consider
condo/strata title to be socialist although they are a kind of non profit.)
It does not have to marketed as green socialist Kyoto Protocol positive etc.
It can win on price and the stability of pricing that green/renewable energy
has which gas delivered to a home cannot.
I am certain that private developers will be doing it because permaculture
thinking is becoming one of the few reasonable and profitable ways to think.
I want to encourage you to see the possibilities and not to fear, as you are
a very thoughtful engineer. We need more engineers/permaculturalists like
you and I'd like to see you with money too. Lets assess options - they are
> What I think is "rediculous" [sic] is for you, from another
> region, to pre-
> suppose how other people/cultures think - Alberta IS a different culture
> than B.C.
If Albertans see new services and utilities based on not locally used
technologies by local businesses owned by investors or buyers as socialist
then Alberta is in real trouble. Truth is not determined by culture.
People who think that truth is determined by culture are cultural
relativists. Untruth spoken, even if by Albertans, attracts ridicule and
what attracts ridicule is ridiculous. To say that something is ridiculous
is to give warning of potential ridicule but not to actually ridicule it.
> Also, I'm curious how paying "oil and gas suppliers high prices
> when it is
> cheaper..." is socialist? I think it is stupid, and basically
> but fail to see it as socialist (or good for all)...please let me
> know your
Socialists argue for government subsidy and control of a key part of the
marketplace, and offer services at costs often higher than what a
competitive market would and at the same time tie the hands of individuals
and small companies in the name of equity (lower energy prices). Oil and gas
companies receive corporate welfare in tax breaks and subsidies and offer
energy now at costs (including energy policy gridlock/government bribery,
foreign war, air pollution, global warming, ground water contamination)
higher than a competitive (regulated competition) fair (regulated to reflect
true costs) efficient free market would. So collectively, preferentially
buying from oil, gas and coal companies in the current circumstances would
> > Hot water districts work in surprisingly large districts so long as
> > the density of use is high. There are 100's of heating districts in
> > NA in most downtown districts and universities - often old steam
> > systems. Now it is much more economic to have 4 pipe systems cold
> > and hot with returns.
> yes, big ones work great...small ones are less viable - it comes down to
> recapturing up-front design and infrastructure costs...
I'd disagree with the slant or tone. 3 years ago gas prices were 1/2 what
they are today. Mortgage payments are better than nat. gas payments because
they are predictable so fixed costs are better than variable but recurring
costs. The concern about upfront costs have just shifted down because of
the high recurring cost of nat. gas. That is my key announcement - it is
time to shift thinking opinion/slant based on the financial and
technological facts. Times have changed - nat. gas is no longer the all
conquering almighty overwhelming competition to green and renewable energy.
The emperor (oil, coal, gas industries and government) has no clothes - his
energy is not the cheapest (not good for equity) and his advisors are
As to viability, hot water (ground source heat pump, radionic floor heating,
solar hotwater etc) is used in single family residential multifamily and
commercial buildings today. Linking one house to another makes it like
large systems even more economical.
> > Here in BC, there is a crazy case where a gas fired power company is
> > to locate with in feet of the Canadian border, use Canadian gas, pollute
> > Canadian Air, use Canadian powerlines and sell the power to the US.
> > They did not offer hotwater to the existing ones that are now
> > struggling to heat themselves or allow for acres of greenhouses
> > which could have been built.
> too bad...another lost opportunity. Have you discussed this with
> BC Hydro?
> They have a vested interest in reducing greenhouse gases and,
> still being a
> provincial utility, may be more open to these opportunities.
> Another angle
> is approaching the Hot House Tomato people or other large
> greenhouse grower
> and pointing out the potential savings they could have by using the waste
> > Every power plant, and industrial facility could heat the whole
> > neighbourhood. It creates goodwill, clean air and is a good use of
> > resources.
> sure it does...it's a good way to maximize the work available in fossil
> fuels as we use them up!
> > Harold Waldock
> Kelly Finigan, M.Sc. P.Eng. Permaculture Designer
> ~ Sustainability consultant & ecological designer ~
> 744 - 4 Street NW
> Calgary, Alberta T2N 1P2
> phone 1-403-283-7270
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