Can cities reduce traffic congestion and emissions with a private transit network?
The best way to describe JPods, a new form of public transit soon to be tested in New Jersey, is “something out of the Jetsons.” At least that’s how one city official described the solar-powered pods, which are a combination of light rail and self-driving car suspended above roads. Imagine something like a ski lift running above our existing streets and you’re getting close to the right mental image.
But there’s one sticking point: The JPods are a private transit system. Will investors be willing to fund a network of pods that compete with light rail, buses, subways, and other current public transit options? And if the capital was there, would municipal governments let this happen?
A tiny country with little space to spare looks to its water reservoirs to expand its use of renewable energy.
There isn’t much extra space in Singapore, since the entire country is smaller than New York City and fully developed. So when the government decided to install more solar power to help meet the area’s energy needs, they turned to water instead of land: When finished, the country’s new power plant would be the world’s largest floating solar farm.
If the Solar Wind Downdraft Tower is ever built in the Arizona desert, it truly will be a wonder of the modern world. At 2,250 feet, it would be taller than the new Freedom Tower in New York (1,776 feet), and 1,000 feet higher than the Empire State Building. It would have 120 huge turbines at its base, and enough pumping capacity to keep more than 2.5 billion gallons of water circulating. And it would have colossal power output: the equivalent of wind turbines spread over 100,000 acres, or as big as the Hoover Dam.
Choosing solar power no longer has to be a sacrifice for the sake of the environment. In Germany, Italy, and Spain, installing your own solar panels can now actually save money.
A report released by European renewable energy consulting firm Eclareon shows that solar energy has reached “grid parity.” In other words, over the full lifetime of the equipment, the total cost of owning and operating rooftop solar panels is about the same as buying electricity from the grid.
There’s little need to be wary of a nighttime stroll though a park in Cambridge, England. During the day, particles in the surface of the path absorb UV light. In the evening, they release that energy again. The result is a beautiful effect that its creators call “Starpath.”
The world has a challenge on its hands: As people rise out of poverty, their energy consumption rises, too, putting pressure on everyone around the globe to offer game-changing solutions to the greenhouse-gas crisis. These folks are meeting the task. Read more>