Flexergy: Resilient, Adaptable and Thermodynamically Congruent Infrastructure for an Uncertain Future
Unpredictable changes in global climate, economies plagued by chronic instability and energy insecurity with volatile fossil fuel costs are all manifestations of the pervasive uncertainty that defines our time. This instability is symptomatic of the undermining of a worldview of constant growth and inexhaustible resources that disregards biophysical limits and our interdependence with natural systems.
Communities can confront this uncertainty through:
1) design that increases the capacities of a system to assimilate change rather than for a predicted set of conditions, and 2) integration of human and natural systems towards a co-evolutionary symbiosis that is able to perform within the biological and physical constraints of our planet.
Flexergy is a methodology for communities to re-evaluate the way they concieve, deploy and maintain energy infrastructure. This strategy presents a new model that will help change assumptions that are commonly left unexamined as new technology is forced to work within a system that is constrained by old ideas - thus avoiding the full potentials of innovation to be unleashed in the assimilation of renewable energy.
What community does this idea benefit and who are the main players?
This strategy/discussion would target planners, energy planners, urban designers on both the public and private sectors.
How does your idea specifically help your community rapidly transition to renewables?
We keep constructing the built environment - from electrical outlets to nation-wide oil pipelines and massive hydro dams - on old ideas of how energy infrastructure should function. These old ideas are biased towards top/down, single-function, non-renewable rigid infrastructure which need to change if we want to have any hope in the large-scale adoption of renewable and effective energy that needs to happen.
What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?
A collaborative analysis of existing infrastructure and its energy context of one city, from source to sink, to identify where there is opportunity for early intervention.
What skills, input or guidance are you keen to connect with from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?
Expertise from those on-the-ground who have faced some of the challenges of operating within old infrastructure models. Also scholars who are working more closely with thermodynamics, exergy and related concepts as well as ecologists who are more knowledgeable of how energy is transfered through trophic levels in natural systems.
Please indicate which type of energy is most relevant to this post:
A combination of various types of renewable energy