GASSED OUT is a proposal that seeks to anticipate the transition from fossil fuels to renewables by transforming gas stations into community "energy hotspots".
The conversion of gas stations is not a new notion. Over time, we have seen them evolve into restaurants, basketball courts and charging stations. However, these are only discrete solutions to the slow abandonment of a single gas station. As gas stations become increasingly obsolete, the opportunity for a systemic approach, can lead to solutions that address our larger societal challenges like climate change and perhaps play a role in the transition to renewable energy.
Under the scheme, inactive gas stations become hubs for powering and fueling our homes and buildings. These “energy hotspots” function as a micro-grid; a conduit for the generation, distribution, and storage of renewable solar, wind and geothermal energy. In an effort to transition us out of our current, unsustainable and deteriorating centralized energy system, towards a more distributed, resilient and community operated one.
This systemic approach will require each gas station to adapt according to the local context in which it is situated in, considering both the energy resources available and the culture of the community.
To illustrate this, I have chosen three different gas stations located in my hometown, Edmonton Alberta Canada. Alberta is home to the third largest oil reserve in the world. The relationship to fossil fuels and energy in this region has always been rife and a transition towards renewable energy – a necessary shift – will cause major effects across the entire province and country. Motivated by the importance and potential impact of this, Edmonton felt like the perfect place to consider as a test case.
Gas Stations to “Energy Hotspots”:
Gas Station 1: Located near a grocery store plaza, this energy hotspot is a community garden and kitchen. Food waste from the area is collected on site and turned into biogas generating fuel to power the community.
Gas Station 2: Located between the exit of a highway and entrance to a residential neighbourhood, this energy hotspot is a transition zone for freight trucks to offload packages to smaller electric vehicles, completing the distribution cycle and reducing the emissions within city limits. Excess heat –“waste heat”– from a nearby power plant is captured and used to heat the community while simultaneously cleaning the air of pollution.
Gas Station 3: Located in a residential community and along an existing bus route, this energy hotspot is a multimodal transportation hub that supports the active school system. In addition to tying into the existing bus system, the energy hotspot provides additional transportation options like bike share, ski storage, and community autonomous vehicles. The presence of solar panels at the neighbourhood scale, provides solar energy to the community.
GASSED OUT is a proposal designed to question, rethink, and offer an alternative solution to an industry and societal system that is in dire need of change.