Weather effects on Peak Oil Homestead design
In the previous post we picked a specific location for our Peak Oil Homestead Example Problem, which enables us to do quite a bit. With these new assumptions we can better see our true requirements. With 34”/year of precipitation, we can modify our water requirements to take advantage of nature’s irrigation. With knowledge of our latitude, we can run calculations on solar incidence.
In the interest of furthering the design, let’s calculate what we need for growing food. Requirement 2.2.2 in the ORD is for 14,000 liters-per-day (lpd) of water. For four people on a vegetarian diet, we can liberally estimate that 1 acre of food would meet their nutritional needs (NOTE: This will be refined to a more exact number as the design progresses – remember Systems Engineering is an iterative process!).
The precipitation volume rate is therefore:
Vp = (34”/yr)*1 acre = 2.83 acre-ft/yr = 3,490,000 liters/yr = 9560 lpd
In this iteration on the design, we see that we can reduce our daily water requirement of 14,000 lpd by 9560 to 4440 lpd! However, remember that the 34”/yr is an average figure, and we should apply some engineering forethought and bump it up a bit.
Before we do so, however, we should consider the predicted effects of global warming on our particular region. Models call for increased precipitation in the Midwest through at least 2050, which can give us more confidence in our decision to rely more on precipitation for crop irrigation.
(The models also predict only moderate local warming for Iowa from global warming through 2050 for the summer seasons, and more significant winter season warming. The winter warming could mean a reduced need for home heating and is a factor to consider when we get to designing those systems.)
Given this analysis, it seems a refined requirement of 5000-6000 lpd for food production is reasonable. However, we have not yet taken into account possible effects of mulching, greenhouses, or other water-saving techniques! That will be taken account during trade studies in the next iteration.