FAQs for C: The Sustainable Life

The endstate doesn’t talk about transportation and how to reduce use of gas in vehicles?
It mentions inter-hamlet bus service being widely used.  At the moment, the leading ideas are synfuels (although there is concern about the amount of land required to really displace large portions of our transport fuel) or electric vehicles.  The electric option would be great because 97% of the electricity we receive is already generated renewably, mostly being hydro.  But there needs to be significant technological improvement before the electric car or truck can be a widely used option.  Clustering in hamlets, as well sourcing locally all reduce transportation related fossil fuel use.

Isn’t biomass just a fancy term for burning wood, which is bad for the air and our lungs?
Biomass is a slightly more general term meaning plant material suitable for burning.  The modern biomass furnaces envisioned in this endstate are called gasifiers and they usually burn the material in a column multiple times so that little or nothing comes out the stack.  They are very efficient for base load heating which isn’t turned on or off much. 60% of Vermont schools use biomass heat.

Doesn’t this endstate depend heavily on government subsidies for renewable energy?  What if that goes away, how sustainable is this endstate then?
In some cases, such as biomass, the renewable energy is in fact the lowest cost option and projects can be funded entirely from future operational savings.  But as these new energy technologies become more widely used, costs can go down and pay back periods shortened.  The government’s job is to give early adopters incentives so that the shift gets going.


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