Exploring the Feasibility of Achieving Energy Self-sufficiency — A Residential Electricity Case Study in Ontario
As energy security and climate issues are emerging as global concerns, it is commonly agreed that a transition from a conventional centralized energy system, which is largely based on combustion of fossil fuel, to a more sustainable decentralized energy system that includes mainly renewable energy sources is necessary and urgent. Due to the highly variable geographical qualities of renewable energy sources, spatial energy planning is becoming essential. This study aims to address the challenges in linking spatial modelling with assessment of regional energy consumption and renewable energy supply potential. A novel approach for exploring the feasibility of achieving energy self-sufficiency through matching energy deficit areas with energy surplus areas is proposed. A method for energy deficit and surplus area matching is developed and implemented in a VBA- based tool that serves as a decision-support tool by exploring possible future deployment of renewable energy in decentralized ways. Achieving Ontario residential electricity self-sufficiency through solar PV energy on an annual basis is explored as a case study. The results show that it is technically feasible for Ontario to be residential electricity self-sufficient through the development of solar PV energy with energy deficit areas within the region getting energy supply from nearby energy surplus areas. The case study implies that regional residential electricity self- sufficiency is achievable and it is useful for planners and policy makers to bear the regional energy deficit-surplus matching idea in mind when making urban and energy plans.