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Energy


Advances in energy are benefiting humanity today and tomorrow. Follow along as Singularity Hub discusses the future of energy and latest trends in this field.

The Promise of Direct Air Capture: Making Stuff Out of Thin Air

Imagine making fuel, plastics, and concrete out of “thin air." That’s the promise of direct air capture (DAC), a technology that fundamentally disrupts our contemporary oil economy. Mimicking what already occurs in nature, DAC essentially...

How Cheap Must Batteries Get for Renewables to Compete With Fossil Fuels?

While solar and wind power are rapidly becoming cost-competitive with fossil fuels in areas with lots of sun and wind, they still can’t provide the 24/7 power we’ve become used to. At present, that’s...

The Age of Solar Energy Abundance Is Coming in Hot

Every five days, the sun provides the Earth with as much energy as all proven supplies of oil, coal, and natural gas. If humanity could capture just one 6,000th of Earth’s available solar energy, we’d be...

The Newest Way to Go Green? Retrofit Your Old Car to Make It Electric

Thanks to a rapid decline in lithium-ion battery prices and increases in their energy storage density, we’re headed into the age of the electric car. So much so that some nations, including France, India,...

How the US Will Get to a 50 Percent Renewable Electric Economy by 2030

By 2030, more than 50 percent of the US economy will run on electricity derived from renewables. What are the implications as we shift the US and global energy economies away from fossil fuels? For the...

The Biggest Offshore Wind Project in the US Is Underway

From the steady growth in market share of electric cars to continuous improvement and expansion of solar energy technology, it appears the world is going renewable—the age of fossil fuels is slowly but surely...

How to Deploy Tech Solutions to the World’s Greatest Challenges at Scale

“Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door,” argued Ralph Waldo Emerson, the 19th century US lecturer, philosopher, and essayist. In other words, if scientists and engineers invent...

Wood Gets a Makeover to Provide Energy-Free Air Conditioning

Powering buildings costs America $430 billion a year and accounts for 40 percent of total energy use. Almost half of that is used for heating and cooling. Now scientists have given our oldest building...

5 Coming Breakthroughs in Energy and Transportation

The energy and transportation industries are being aggressively disrupted by converging exponential technologies. In just five days, the sun provides Earth with an energy supply exceeding all proven reserves of oil, coal, and natural gas....

Electric Cars Are Estimated to Be Cheaper Than Regular Cars by 2022

Electric cars have developed a reputation as the ultimate status symbol of the champagne environmentalist, but that could be very close to changing. New research from BloombergNEF says they could be cheaper than combustion-engine...

China’s Electric Buses Save More Diesel Than All Electric Cars Combined

Tesla and other electric cars are great for the environment. However, they pale in comparison to electric buses. According to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), electric buses will save an astounding...

China Is Taking the Worldwide Lead in Wind Power

Renewable energy demand and capacity are growing explosively. When looking at numbers for wind energy production, China stands above all other countries. Figures released by the Global Energy Council in late February showed that...

How New 2D Materials Convert Wi-Fi Signals to Electricity

Our eyes are only attuned to a narrow band of possible wavelengths for electromagnetic radiation, between around 390-700 nanometers. If you could see the world in different wavelengths, you’d be aware that, in a...

Advancing Vehicle-to-Grid Tech: Why Solar Energy Needs Your Electric Car

Solar may be the future of energy production, but for the time being, it causes a lot of problems.  Energy producers, grid managers, and energy markets have struggled to adapt to the growing amount...

The Catch No One’s Talking About: Renewable Energy Relies on Non-Renewable Resources

Renewable energy is generally viewed as a long-term solution to climate change. It’s no surprise, then, that a great deal of effort is going into to powering the world by using only renewables, and...

Will Electric Planes Ever Happen? Here’s an Update on Their Status

In 2015, airlines burned through 276 million tons of jet fuel. That's roughly 7 percent of global oil products, and leads to direct emissions that make up 2.7 percent of global energy-related CO2 emissions....

Switching to Electric Vehicles Could Save the US Billions, But Timing Is Everything

Today, less than two percent of the vehicles Americans buy are electric. But within the next three decades, some automotive industry experts expect electric vehicles could make up the majority of US and global...

Why Our Current Energy Transition Is Both Unprecedented and Urgent

The combustion of oil, gas, and coal have made possible a much higher standard of living for humans through radical innovations in technology and science over the past 150 years. Yet for decades, scientists...

The 7 Wild Energy Technologies That Just Got a Billion-Dollar Boost

It's touch and go whether current efforts to curb carbon emissions will avert catastrophic climate change. That's why a group of billionaires have pledged $1 billion to fund radical new energy technologies, and they've...

New Materials Are Powering the Battery Revolution

There are more mobile phones in the world than there are people. Nearly all of them are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which are the single most important component enabling the portable electronics revolution...

This Breakthrough New Particle Accelerator Is Small But Mighty

Particle accelerators have become crucial tools for understanding the fundamental nature of our universe, but they are incredibly big and expensive. That could change, though, after scientists validated a new approach that could usher...

What’s Disrupting How We Produce Energy—and How We Use It

“Where did solar energy get its start?” Ramez Naam asked in a presentation at Singularity University’s Global Summit. Naam, a computer scientist and award-winning science fiction author, has in recent years turned his attention...

Waste Heat: The Overlooked Energy Problem, and How to Solve It

With the exponential increase in the number of data centers and electronic devices over the last decade, waste heat has become a big but overlooked environmental problem. It is frequently hidden away, out of...

Designing a ‘Solar Tarp,’ a Foldable, Packable Way to Generate Power From the Sun

The energy-generating potential of solar panels—and a key limitation on their use—is a result of what they’re made of. Panels made of silicon are declining in price such that in some locations they can...

The New Energy Storage Tech Gates, Bezos, Ma, and Branson Are Investing In

A group of billionaires including Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma, and Richard Branson have invested in Form Energy. The company, out of MIT, is designing a new type of battery, thought to be...

Plasma, the Mysterious (And Powerful) Fourth Phase of Matter

When I was in elementary school, my teacher told me that matter exists in three possible states: solid, liquid, and gas. She neglected to mention plasma, a special kind of electrified gas that’s a...

The Smart Road Tech That’s Making Driving Faster, Safer, And Just Better

From autonomous cars to flying taxis to electric-powered aircraft, technological innovations in transportation vehicles seem to be moving faster than Elon Musk’s express loop underneath Chicago. But when it comes to regular roads and...

Pulling Water, Fuel, and Power From Thin Air Is Getting Practical

Pulling things from thin air is generally considered a magic trick. But several recent research papers suggest we could soon be extracting valuable resources like water, fuel, and power from the atmosphere. Startup Carbon Engineering...

5 Reasons Car Companies Are Betting Big on Energy Storage

An increasing number of major car manufacturers are developing solutions in a space that at first glance may seem like a strange choice: energy storage. BMW recently signed a contract that adds 500 of its...

Will Bitcoin Use as Much Electricity as All of Austria by the End of the Year?

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin were designed to be efficient, low-friction alternatives to traditional financial systems. But it seems their creators maybe didn’t think too hard about their sustainability. An analysis published in the journal Joule this...

This Planned Solar Farm in Saudi Arabia Would Be 100 Times Bigger Than Any in the World

Right now it only exists on paper, in the form of a memorandum of understanding. But if constructed, the newly-announced solar photovoltaic project in Saudi Arabia would break an astonishing array of records. It’s...

Can We Recycle CO2 Emissions to Make Carbon-Neutral Fuel?

Our failure to curb our carbon emissions is threatening to cause catastrophic climate change within our lifetimes. But what if we could recycle CO2 emitted by power stations and turn it into fuels and...

New MIT Startup Targets Working Fusion Reactor in 15 Years. Can It Be Done?

The joke is that nuclear fusion is 20 years away, and always will be. This joke, now a cliché, arose from optimistic scientists suggesting in the 1950s (and then in most subsequent decades) that...

If Energy Becomes Free in the Future, How Will That Affect Our Lives?

Technology is making the cost of many things trend towards zero. Things we used to have to pay a lot for are now cheap or even free—think about how much it costs to buy...

Putting AI in Your Pocket: MIT Chip Cuts Neural Network Power Consumption by 95%

Neural networks are powerful things, but they need a lot of juice. Engineers at MIT have now developed a new chip that cuts neural nets’ power consumption by up to 95 percent, potentially allowing...

Artificial Photosynthesis Is Solar Energy’s Forgotten Cousin—and It’s Making a Comeback

In an article in Science published in 1912, Professor Giacomo Ciamician noted that “Coal… offers solar energy to humanity in its most concentrated form… but coal is not inexhaustible. Is fossil solar energy the...

The Clock’s Ticking on Climate Change, and It’s Time to Get Real About Tackling It

If you’re an insomniac, this situation will probably be familiar to you. It’s the night before a big exam or job interview. You go to bed with plenty of time to spare, but sleep...

Elon Musk Is What Happens When These Three Traits Get Together in One Human

I did an interview recently where I was asked to deconstruct Elon Musk’s entrepreneurial success. Having known Musk for 17 years, I’ve had the chance to watch his meteoric rise into someone who is arguably...

The 10 Grand Challenges Facing Robotics in the Next Decade

Robotics research has been making great strides in recent years, but there are still many hurdles to the machines becoming a ubiquitous presence in our lives. The journal Science Robotics has now identified 10...

How Graphene Research Is Taking Aim at 5 of the World’s Biggest Problems

In September 2015, world leaders gathered at a historic UN summit to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These are 17 ambitious targets and indicators that help guide and coordinate governments and international organizations...

New Research Brings Us Closer to Cheap, Transparent, Organic Solar Cells

The age of fossil fuels is coming to an end, and the age of renewable energy has dawned—or, it will be dawning soon. In 2014 the World Bank estimated that over 80 percent of...

Are Solar Roads the Highway of the Future, or a Road to Nowhere?

By some back-of-the-envelope estimates, around 0.2–0.5 percent of the world’s land surface is covered in roads. This proportion is projected to increase by 60 percent by 2050. It’s a staggering fraction of territory for...

The Technologies We’ll Have Our Eyes on in 2018

It’s that time of year again when our team has a little fun and throws on our futurist glasses to look ahead at some of the technologies and trends we’re most anticipating next year. Whether...

The Tantalizing Dream of Blanketing the Sahara in Solar Panels

In 1986, a power surge during a safety test of the reactor at Chernobyl caused a catastrophic explosion. Thirty-one people were directly killed by the explosion and the initial dose of radiation, and several...

Here Are 4 Significant Things We Can Do to Combat Climate Change Now

Earlier this month, 13 US government agencies (NOAA, NASA, DOE, etc.) concluded that climate change is real and caused mainly by human activity. There is no question that this is happening… The only question now is:...

Study Finds ‘Dark Matter’ and ‘Dark Energy’ May Not Exist—Here’s What to Make of It

Dark matter and dark energy are mysterious, unknown substances that are thought to make up more than 96% of the universe. While we may have never directly seen them, they beautifully explain how stars...

How Your Electric Car Could Help Power Your Home

One of the laments you frequently hear from fossil-fuel lobbyists and renewable energy skeptics concerns the intermittency problem. These advocates point out that the energy from the sun and wind isn’t always available because...

The Huge Promise of Transparent Solar Cells—Turning the World’s Glass Surfaces Into Solar Panels

Sunlight is everywhere, but so far our efforts to harvest its energy have been restricted to solar farms and rooftop panels. A new analysis shows that transparent solar technologies that can be applied to...

The World’s First Floating Wind Farm Is an Incredible Feat of Engineering

Wind turbines are a valuable source of renewable energy, but it can be hard to find a good place to put them. They need to be close to a populated area so that transporting...

How Technology Is Driving Us Toward Peak Globalization

At some point in the future—and in some ways we are already seeing this—the amount of physical stuff moving around the world will peak and begin to decline. By “stuff,” I am referring to...

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