Energy in the City of the Future

Every city needs a source of energy, and the City of the Future is no different. What is different about the City of the Future is the fact that it will create the energy it needs with as little impact on the natural world as possible. The City of the Future certainly will not pour megatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The good news is that Raleigh already has a running start in this department, in the form of the Shearon-Harris nuclear power plant:

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The great thing about nuclear power is that it generates electricity with a carbon footprint of zero.

In the future, a great deal of energy will be coming from distributed, renewable sources. The City of the Future should be on the leading edge of this development, and demonstrate the potential of these technologies. There are currently six big categories of renewable energy: solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, hydro and biomass. Of these, the technology that we can effectively demonstrate in downtown Raleigh is solar.

Where would we put a large solar installation in downtown Raleigh? One option is to place solar arrays over an existing parking lot. The panels harvest the solar energy while the cars park in the shade. Even better, there is an 8 acre parking lot located a block from the State Capitol and directly across the street from the Governor's mansion:

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These photos show typical solar parking lots:

An 8 acre parking lot can generate a megawatt or more of solar electricity. It would go a long way toward offsetting the energy needs of something like the adjacent NC Museum of Natural History or State Capitol. This parking lot could also become a demonstrative attraction, with interactive displays showing visitors how solar energy works and how a facility like this is set up.

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© Copyright 2008 by Marshall Brain