Fuel-efficiency is still the craze. Consider the new design by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Cambridge, Boeing, and Rolls Royce for a new mid-range aircraft that travels at 0.8 mach, runs considerably quieter than current generation jets, and uses 25% less fuel, as described in this Economist article. GE has a new efficient incandescent bulb that will eventually deliver the same environmental benefits as compact fluorescent lamps.
Carbon discussions are heating up, including discussions on an American carbon-trading system. (Good thing we now have CarbonTracker to help us measure how much carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere and where it is being released.) Furthermore, we might still be able to use carbon-based fuels, like coal, if we turn the waste product into a liquid or solid and store it underground. Alternatively, if sandstone and saltwater are available, we might be able to inject the gas directly into the ground, according researchers at MIT. IBM is creating carbon dashboards to help corporations understand and lower their supply chain’s carbon emissions and even a supermarket chain (Tesco) is introducing carbon labelling for its products in an attempt to send shockwaves through the supply chain.
Alternative fuels are popping up all over the place. BiOil wants to turn animal fat and waste vegetable oil into domestically produced, cleaner-burning biodiesel. (After all, BioFuels power just opened a 5-megawatt power plant in Oak Ridge North, Texas.) Dyanmotive wants to use plant material to produce bio-oil. Ryan Katofsky and Microgy want to use biomass to produce additional megawatts. (In other words, besides producing milk, Bessie will now be powering your appliances.)
This is good since the amount of money spent on clean energy is expected to quadruple in the next decade, according to Clean Edge. And Europe will be leading the way. (Although an honorable mention must go to Nevada where the Solar One is almost complete.)
Even conventional fuels are becoming cleaner. Ultra-Low Sulphur diesel is now available across America.
And green companies are the new IT when it comes to funding. Think Nordic, which is about to produce a line of all-electric sedans, just received 25M in funding. (GM is also planning an all electric car, but it will not hit the market until 2010, whereas Think Nordic expects to be in full production by 2008.) Imperium Renewables just roped in a 214M Series B found of funding for its biodiesel efforts. CoalTek just nabbed 33M for its clean coal endeavors. LS9 just scored 5M for its search to derive alternates to fossil fuels through plants and microbes.
This is all good news, since precipitation changes are already occurring, and will continue to occur, thanks to global warming. This could make faucets run dry. Furthermore, climate change is likely to result in higher food prices thanks to diversion of basic food stuffs to meet growing energy demands.
It’s a good thing that at least the EU is taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the agreement reached on March 9th, 2007, governments are supposed to lower emissions to 20% below those of 1990, boost the percentage of energy consumption that comes from renewable sources to 20%, and ensure that biofuels make up at least 10% of fuels used for transport by 2020.
Now, if only all mansions could be green.