In the post-fossil-fuels era, the ongoing need for energy will make people not just find ways to use less of it but also to use every possible new way of producing it in a sane manner. I could imagine an urban landscape in a GreenPunk world dotted with thousands of these little low-output wind turbines like the one pictured which sits on top of a building in Hong Kong, and perhaps thousands or millions of solar collectors. Why do things like streetlights need to pull power from a coal-fire-powered electrical grid? They don’t, and eventually they won’t.
Being “off the grid” is an idea that may still be associated fairly strongly with a paranoid survivalist mentality, but in the future it will be a matter of practicality and common sense for more people to be be able to get at least some of their energy on-site. It will make undeniable sense to democratize energy and break the backs of Big Oil, Big Coal and Big Everything Else. The very concept of the grid will need to change to accommodate more, yet smaller, sources of power and smaller networks of people sharing energy. In a GreenPunk future, people will laugh at the notion of a giant utility company dictating what energy costs and where it comes from. They won’t even believe that we tolerated as long as we did. The relationship will be reversed, and people who want to be in the business of providing energy will need to offer what people will demand.