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New Tech to Tackle the Climate Crisis

Here are seven emerging technologies that could help us kick the carbon habit

Roland Weihrauch/picture-alliance/dpa/AP

Climate change can make us feel hopeless. From superstorms and megafires to melting ice caps and rising seas, the ravages of global warming are only getting worse. If human activity is driving us to the brink, the good news is that humans are also developing and deploying new technologies that can help the world kick the carbon habit. We already have affordable, market-ready solutions like solar, wind, and hydropower — the massive deployment of which could make America carbon neutral by 2050. And there are new technologies on the near horizon that could accelerate our trajectory toward a green future. What follows are seven advances — from electric planes to “green” cement to tidal-power generation — that could make modern living more sustainable for our only planet.

From Rolling Stone US

Electric Planes

The ChallengeAirplanes contribute about two percent of the world’s carbon emissions, and battery-weight challenges have limited the development of electric planes. Pound for pound, jet fuel produces about 14 times more energy than a battery.The TechE-planes are moving closer to takeoff. Last June, a modified Cessna with room for nine flew for nearly 30 minutes over Washington state. In October, a hybrid electric plane cruised for two hours and 30 minutes over California.The PotentialHalf of all flights are less than 500 miles, creating a sweet spot for e-planes. U.K. budget airliner EasyJet plans to commercialize e-plane travel on routes like London-to-Amsterdam by 2030.

Floating Solar

The ChallengeLarge solar installations are hard to site in densely populated countries with costly land or rugged terrain. Solar also produces intermittent power that must be supplemented by other energy sources.The TechFloating solar installations on hydroelectric dams exploit unused aquatic surface adjacent to hydropower that can create energy in the dark. A new floating solar plant in South Korea will be the world’s largest, at 41 MW.The PotentialThe Korean plant will provide power for 60,000 people, but with more than 150,000 square miles of man-made reservoirs globally, floating solar has a “potential on a terawatt scale,” according to the World Bank.

Tidal Energy

The ChallengeTidal currents — a huge, largely untapped source of energy for coastal communities — have been hard to harness because the turbulent ocean waters can batter and damage the underwater equipment.The TechIn February, Sustainable Marine launched the world’s first floating tidal-energy platform in Canada, a barge with six submersible turbines that can pivot with the tidal flow, creating steady power.The PotentialDeployed in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, famous for its high tides, the initial project will power 3,000 homes. If tidal energy emerges as a reliable, scalable technology, it could provide more than five percent of global energy needs.