To make renewable gaseous and liquid fuels, renewably generated electricity can be used to gasify or pyrolyze (heat up in a closed low oxygen chamber) clean wood wastes and landscape trimmings. In the San Diego/Tijuana Region where I live, the sustainable thinning of overgrown chaparral will contribute additional high energy materials for gasification. Thinning chaparral will also improve its habitat value for wildlife by opening it up for new plant growth. Additionally, thinning will reduce the severity and number of wildfires that occur in the Region today. Once the gaseous and liquid fuels in the woody feed-stock are driven off, the mixture is distilled into renewably generated oil and liquid and gaseous fuels. Charcoal and soil amendments are the final products of the pyrolysis process. Every level of becoming renewable energy self-sufficient creates opportunities. In the San Diego/Tijuana Region there is an abundance of direct sunlight, wind, biomass (plant and animal (including human) wastes), ocean currents, tidal differences, and waves.
All these renewable energy sources can be used to make electricity and liquid and gaseous fuels. But even if direct sunlight was the region’s only renewable energy resource, it could become renewable energy self-sufficient by coupling a 40% increase in energy use efficiency and covering 26% of the region’s roofs and parking lots with 20% efficient PV panels, (see previous graphics assumptions). The most efficient commercially available PV panels to date are 22.5% efficient. As a bonus, purchasing local renewably generated energy to supply the San Diego/Tijuana Region’s energy needs will convert the region’s current $6 billion negative-energy-purchase-cash-flow, (to pay for energy imports), into a $6 billion positive-energy-purchase-cash-flow. Assuming an economic multiplier benefit of, for every dollar spent on locally generated renewably energy, one additional dollar is spent in the region’s local economy. This equals $12 billion in local economic activity per year. Buying locally generated renewable energy will create $12 billion of local economic activity per year, versus a $6 billion cash-flow loss.