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Designing Sustainability: Technologies to Revolutionize Our Energy Systems

A sustainable future is a laudable goal for our society as the population continues to swell. Luckily, many new technologies and efficient new infrastructure systems are being designed to reach this objective before man-made climate change causes our fragile ecosystems and economic structures to fall apart. Here are the technologies which will revolutionize our energy systems now and in the future!

Google’s Makani Project

Massive corporations are shifting away from coal and oil faster than ever. Search-engine giant Google recently launched a project code-named Makani which will use drones outfitted with wind turbines to generate power while gliding through the air. An attached tether will then transport the energy back to the ground.

New Solar Technologies

Tariffs levied on Chinese goods have constrained the growth of solar energy in our own country, and subsidies have not done enough to offset the cost. Luckily, the prices are falling on their own as green energy activism spreads. Consequently, new solar technologies are in development all over the world. Solar City has also announced new “Gigafactories”, while companies like Apple have invested in enormous solar farms which will result in a headquarters powered completely by solar energy.

The Choice: Green Energy vs. Efficiency Standards

It’s important that those seeking to build a more sustainable future realize that green energy isn’t the only path. More than anything, we need to understand how various infrastructure systems truly work, and how they can be made more efficient.

For example, gas-guzzling vehicles are a major source of carbon emissions. Reducing the number of cars on the road by making ride-sharing programs like Uber and Lyft more desirable would lead to a similar result as increasing the number of vehicles which employ green technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells or electric. Both would reduce carbon emissions substantially.

Pushing Technology Further: Automation

By implementing autonomous vehicles in the same way, we could further advance the efficiency standards of an already economical ride-sharing system. Currently, car manufacturers Audi and Tesla are building vehicles which employ autopilot systems. They expect these to be put on the market in two to five years, and fully autonomous vehicles within ten.

When we do finally make the leap to hydrogen or electric-powered vehicles, we’ll free up more resources that can then be spent on other infrastructure initiatives or to help our young people invest in the increasing number of environmentally friendly degree programs like an online master’s in civil engineering that is available today.

Commercial vehicles will likely be the first to make this transition. Companies which currently employ truck drivers know that automation is the future, and that computers work faster, harder, and make fewer mistakes than their human counterparts—all while draining fewer resources. In short, automation will reduce the burden which green energy needs to bear in order to reverse dangerous trends.

Still, the trend toward green energy and green technologies is hard to miss. The real question revolves around whether or not we will accept and embrace these new alternatives in order to build a more sustainable future. If we lose this opportunity, our very livelihood is on the line.

Anica Oaks, the author of this article, is a freelance writer
and web enthusiast. Read some of her published works here.

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