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Can cities become self-reliant in energy? A technological scenario analysis for Cleveland, Ohio

DOI: 10.1016/j.cities.2012.05.015
  • Globalization
  • Local Self-Reliance
  • Cities
  • Renewable Energy
  • Solar
  • Wind
  • Solid Waste
  • Biofuels
  • Cleveland
  • Ohio
  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Political Science


Abstract This study applied the concept of local self-reliance in energy for a North American city, Cleveland, Ohio. Results revealed that while nearly all of Cleveland’s energy is imported, there is potential to meet the demand entirely using local, renewable sources of energy. Four scenarios were constructed. The first scenario included planned renewable energy developments: the 20MW Municipal Solid Waste to Energy (MSWE) facility by Cleveland Public Power and a 20MW offshore wind project by the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo). These resulted in 1% energy self-reliance for the city. The second scenario, in which the contribution of offshore wind power was increased to 1000MW (LEEDCo’s target for 2020), solar power was provided using 10% efficient solar panels on one-quarter of all rooftop area and biodiesel was produced on one-half of the city’s vacant land using algae of moderate productivity, produced 17.6% self-reliance. In Scenario 3, the level of energy self-reliance jumped to 70% when LEEDCo’s 2030 target of 5000MW was considered together with solar panels of 20% efficiency and high-productivity algae. In Scenario 4, 100% self-reliance was attained by further increasing offshore wind power. The analysis also revealed that enhanced energy self-reliance could result in $28.7M to $1.76bn being retained in Cleveland annually. Although consumer behavior, market forces, and political dynamics can shape the production and use of energy, it is concluded that cities have the potential to substantially increase their energy self-reliance, which may bolster their economic resilience and reduce their ecological footprint.

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