We need to fight against energy poverty, climate change and ecological destrution by industry and the growing severity of weather patterns. We are constrained by several factors, namely energy availability (ignoring cost), skilled manpower and technology. If you don’t have a chip to make a sensor work, you have no sensor, if you can’t weld a machine together, you have no machine. I’m not mentioning a functioning supply chain, the breakdown of which is another risk we are all exposed to in a globalized economy. We should work towards a society that has no needs from over the horizon.
The first thing I want to stress is that biological solutions are best, because they are cheap. Life (contrary to what many believe) is not creating its own fertile ground, it is a pure opportunist. When life can not thrive it simply does not exist. Large parts of the planet could be hospitable to more life (storing more CO2) but geological features make it so the opportunity (combination of water, nutrients, sunshine etc.) never arise. Humans can change this, and thus the amount of biomass can be increased without much much effort. The Biomass return on energy invested (BROEI?) could be calculated in many cases. Lots to do, and probably done already.
Technical solutions, innovations, are not free in our global fossil based economy, this is why I can list a number that have been killed by banks who rather see products with high cashflow that do not reduce fossil consumption (which also generates constant cashflow) on which banks rely for their operation. Without fossil fuels no modern banks! So energy solutions that are low fossil input, last long, replace fossil consumption have been killed off in recent decades, there are many examples, but here are some.
Wind for heating or cooling
Heating using wind is perfectly possible, its not done anywhere as far as I know. Cooling as well. The design of such a device is simply a turbine with a resistive heater (brake disk) in its nacelle or if you want to make it more complicated, one with a hydraulic pump who’s hydraulic pressure can be used elsewhere. I wrote about the Dutch Rainmaker (a wind cooling system capable of generating 6 m3 water in the desert by condensation). The inventor at the time was pused into the direction of RO by cost concerns, and his turbine would be deployed on an unihabited island in the caribbean, this is what happens when banks get their hands on such an idea. So turbine blades, hydraulic pumps, cooling that runs on hydraulic pressure, or easier still, wind to coolant compressor, water.. Equally for heating. See Windheatingsystem.com
Heat/cold storage in phase change materials
Phase change materials exploit the extra heat that is produced or needed for materials to freeze or thaw. Water turning into ice actually loses more heat at the transition per degree cooling than on the way to zero and from zero to lower temperatures. If you melt it you need more heat to get over this transition. There are many materials that take a long time getting away from the transition temperature, which can be at zero Celsius but also at 30 Celcius or 40 Celsius depending on the material. This means you can store energy in these materials to come out at transition temperature. These materials are usually cheap. Paraffine, Water, Salts. The products made with them however are relatively expensive, see for instance Sunamp storage. If you want to store heat this is a great way to do it.
Many laws prevent heat/cold sharing between houses to not confuse the administration of the energy supplier, this should change.
Water generation by cooling
The above shows one energy source for cooling air so that water in it condensates, but other means can be used, even solar heat! Extracting water with dew nets is another option. Radiative cooling to space (a surface exposed to the clear sky) at night and even during the day means you can cool materials even in full sunligt (if the surface is highly reflective). In the Middle East ice ponds where shaded basins with water that would cool to very low temperatures against the cold sky (63 K)
Desalination by freezing water is underused because it requires less energy (and our economy maximizes fossil cashflow, will stop repeating this mantra now). Ice drives off included salts, so you can reach drinkable water by repeated freezing cycles.
Insulation with Vacuum
Vacuum is a very good thermal insulator, most insulation is about using still air to slow down the transmission of cold or heat. Vacuum transmits no cold or heat. The quest should be on for the lightest thinnest way to create a panel holding a vacuum, obviously raw material cost would be low, the product is light and thin. I have seen several companies trying to market it, without much luck.
Ultra High Vacuum Solar Thermal Panels
Vacuum insulation can also increase the yield of solar thermal panels, to where they produce supercritical steam (500 Celsius!). There have been several attempts to market Ultra High Vacuum Solar thermal panels in the past, but either the requirements or the market discouraged their entry. This is a missed opportunity because higher temperature solar thermal heat can be turned into other energy forms with more efficiency, and be used in cooling applications. See also TVP Solar
Combining Solar PV and Thermal
The economy has several Rivian style companies that pretend to work on something but never actually seriously make an attempt. Rivian languished 10 years and is now producing 950 vehicles, worried about ramping up. Likewise companies have tried to produce effective combinations of Solar PV and Solar Thermal panels. Obviously a space saver, also a way to monetize the 85% of heat absorbed by solar panels that is no used. There is plenty of room for such a product, just stay away from banks! Installers are also a big obstacle, as are regulations created by the pro-fossil industry. Triple Solar claims to have a product, but did not respond to a recent request for a quote.
Quit eating meat means you reduce the emissions of all the steps needed to get it to your plate. You need to watch vitamine B but otherwise its fine. Just quit meat!
Eating less extends the life expectancy by up to 30%. Red meat containing a lot of iron is actually a cause of faster aging as the iron needs to be neutralized. The fasting rage and low carb diets are both geared towards burning body fat instead of carbohydrates. The intermittent fasting is better though, would be even better combined with vegetarianism. The upside is that ketones are good for your mood, your energy levels go up, you are more capable of dealing with the world than when you are constantly overloading your system with glucose.
Build with Wood and Biological Materials
Concrete and cement are energy intensive. Their use contributes significantly to global emissions. Wood can be processed now to build highrises, its a store of CO2, natural. Plant trees and use wood and you will sink CO2 from the atmosphere. The sooner that is done the better. Hemp can be used to insulate. Somehow the clean sterile look has been promoted, but that’s because its most hypnotic, it makes us robotic, focussed and easy to influence. For our happiness and future bio materials are better though.
You can Build and Dig with Electric Equipment now
The biggest problem with the transition to renewables and climate action is that it requires fossil fuels. But many producers of heavy equipment now make versions that are battery/electric, even the most high powered ones. This opens the opportunity of directly powering equipment with solar, allowing work to be done at near zero cost realtive to work done with continuous diesel consumption. More on electric heavy equipment here.