These energy innovations could transform how we mitigate climate change, and save money in the process – 5 essential reads
To most people, a solar farm or a geothermal plant is simply a power producer. Scientists and engineers see far more potential.
They envision offshore wind turbines capturing and storing carbon beneath the sea, and geothermal plants producing essential metals for powering electric vehicles. Electric vehicle batteries, too, can be transformed to power homes, saving their owners money.
With scientists worldwide sounding the alarm about the increasing dangers and costs of climate change, let’s explore some cutting-edge ideas that could transform how today’s technologies reduce the effects of global warming, from five recent articles in The Conversation.
1. Solar canals: Power + water protection
What if solar panels did double duty, protecting water supplies while producing more power?
California is developing the United States’ first solar canals, with solar panels built atop some of the state’s water distribution canals. These canals run for thousands of miles through arid environments, where the dry air boosts evaporation in a state frequently troubled by water shortages.
“In a 2021 study, we showed that covering all 4,000 miles of California’s canals with solar panels would save more than 65 billion gallons of water annually by reducing evaporation. That’s enough to irrigate 50,000 acres of farmland or meet the residential water needs of more than 2 million people,” writes engineering professor Roger Bales of the University of California, Merced. They would also expand renewable energy without taking up farmable land.
Research shows that human activities, particularly using fossil fuels for energy and transportation, are unequivocally warming the planet and increasing extreme weather. Increasing renewable energy, currently about 20% of U.S. utility-scale electricity generation, can reduce fossil fuel demand.
From pulling carbon dioxide out of the air to turning water into fuel, innovators are developing new technologies and pairing existing ones to help slow global warming.
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