Thursday, March 24, 2016

These technologies could change the world

5 breakthroughs that would transform clean energy

By Cristina Maza, Christian Science Monitor
FEBRUARY 27, 2016

Can today’s energy technology alone carry us into a zero-carbon future?

For some, the answer is “yes”: Current solar- and wind-power technology give governments and businesses everything they need to spur a wholesale shift away from fossil fuels. But a growing chorus of scientists and thinkers argue that the world needs a major energy “breakthrough” that would rapidly tip the scales in favor of cleaner, more efficient energy.

Chief among them is billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates.

In an open letter from his foundation released on Tuesday, Mr. Gates argued that huge investments are needed if the world is to bring power to its soon-to-be 8 billion inhabitants without destroying the planet. The statement came just months after Mr. Gates announced the formation of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a private investment initiative that will fund research into technologies in the clean energy sector. It also came in the wake of Mission Innovation, a commitment by President Obama and 19 other world leaders to double their governments’ investments in clean energy technology.

In his budget request for 2017, the president earmarked $7.7 billion for clean-energy research and development. Meanwhile, private scientists, engineers, and technologists are working steadily to develop new technologies that will spur economic development, power homes, and facilitate global transportation without releasing planet-warming greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

So, what exactly would a major clean-energy breakthrough look like? Here are five technology advances that would change how we power our everyday lives:

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