The past few decades have seen a rise in alternative energy sources, including wind, solar and water power. Wind turbines line highways, solar panels are prevalent on rooftops, and hydropower plants, such as dams and mills are common sites all over the world. However, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, we’re just getting started.
In the next 24 years, renewable energy will be the fastest growing energy source and will compete, if not beat, fossil fuel sources when it comes to cost. And by 2050, alternative fuel sources could provide as much as 80 percent of the U.S. electric power. This translates to incredible improvements in the world’s climate crisis and great things for the health of our planet. But it also paves the way for some pretty cool technological innovations.
Air travel, one of the most environmentally unfriendly modes of mass transportation, is making its way onto the green list. Scientists and engineers are working to eliminate the need for traditional fuel for long distance flights. Instead, planes of the future will rely entirely on solar power. It sounds unbelievable, but it’s already happening. Last year, a completely solar powered plane flew across the Pacific Ocean, from Asia to Hawaii.
Another promising stride in the solar powered transportation market is a strange-looking little car called Stella. Powered completely by the sun, Stella can drive 500 miles on a single charge. Eventually, Stella (hopefully a more aesthetically pleasing version of Stella) will be available at the consumer level. For now though, the auto industry has initiated moves to bring solar technology to vehicles. The Toyota Prius, for example, has a solar-powered cooling system – a promising environmental innovation for the future of all consumer cars.
Wind power, while sustainable and cost effective once implemented, is expensive to manufacture and maintain, and causes the death of birds, bats and other flying animals. A company in Spain is working on a blade-free, gear-free, bearing-free wind turbine to lower the cost obstacle by half and keep winged animals alive.
While these technologies are not yet available to every community, energy experts and critics say prototypes and efforts made in expanding alternative energy sources are important and are a good sign that clean, sustainable and completely green power is on its way to becoming the standard.
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