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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.

These Technologies Will Shift the Global Balance of Power in the Next 20 Years

Governments, businesses, and economists have all been caught off guard by the geopolitical shifts that happened with the crash of oil prices and the slowdown of China’s economy. Most believe that the price of...
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Watch Episode 1 of Ask an Expert, the New Web Series from Singularity University

Last week, we told you about a new web series called Ask an Expert. Well, Episode 1 is finally here and it's all about ENERGY! In its debut, questions about energy that were tweeted to @singularityu with...

On Robocars and Ultracapacitors (and other energy sources)

I was recently asked about the synergies between autonomous vehicles or robocars and ultracapacitors/supercapacitors. It turns out they are not what you would expect, and it teaches some of the surprising lessons of robocars. Ultracapacitors are...

Tesla’s Powerwall Is the Latest Step Toward Our Clean-Energy Future

Most people are skeptical that we’re heading into a clean-energy future. They find it hard to believe that solar energy is fewer than 14 years away from meeting 100 percent of today’s energy needs....

Should We Arm the International Space Station With Lasers to Destroy Space Junk?

If you look closely enough, Earth has rings. NASA estimates there are some 500,000 pieces of space debris in orbit. Space junk, traveling up to ten times the speed of a bullet, endangers satellites...

The 4 Steps That Transform Physics Theories Into Groundbreaking New Technologies

Ever wondered how the technology we use every day came into existence? Sure, an engineer designed it, a manufacturer produced it, and some savvy marketing helped sell you the product, but where did the...

Technology Gives Us the Power to Rewrite Nature

One of my old professors used to say calculus is the language of the universe. Now, every so often, I'll watch trees in the wind, cars on the road, or clouds rolling by, and see equations made...

Can Fusion Energy Be Obtained Without the Death Star?

The National Ignition Facility, located in Livermore, CA, is a spectacular, ultramodern facility the size of a football stadium. Housed within are 192 laser beams, which can be focused onto a one-centimeter glass sphere...

New Hybrid Solar Cell Battery Takes Aim at Solar Power’s Energy Storage Problem

As the world seeks alternatives to fossil fuels, scientists, entrepreneurs and government leaders are pushing to develop cheap, clean energy. Wind-harnessing turbines are increasingly found in many parts of the world. Solar panels can be...

Unlocking Big Data: Lessons Learned From The God Particle

It’s a puzzle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a symphony. It’s the Higgs boson, the so-called God particle, the greatest physics find of the 21st century, turned into music. Chamber music, to be exact. Admittedly—and...

Solar PowerCube Provides Electricity, Clean Water, and WiFi in Disaster Zones

Following a major disaster, water, energy, and communications can be in short supply—challenging for residents and relief workers alike. But what if you could provide these necessities using only sunlight? Ecosphere's all-in-one solar solution, the Ecos...

“The World in 2025” Predicts Abundant Solar Power and Food, Tailored Drugs, Gene Therapies

In a recently released vision of the future, Thomson Reuters analysts predict solar power will be the dominant form of energy by 2025. Further, the report states genomic testing and manipulation will be common and lead...

Around the World Without a Drop of Fuel — Solar Impulse 2 Logs Its First Flight

Its wingspan matches a Boeing 747, every square inch covered in solar panels. A quarter of its weight is dedicated to energy storage. It flies day and night without a drop of conventional fuel....

Singularity Surplus: Computer Convenience For FDA Data, Paper and Pen, Power Outlets

The Scribble pen can identify and reproduce 16 million colors you might come across in daily life. The pen uses a 16-bit RGB color sensor to identify the colors of objects and reproduces them...

Singularity Surplus: New Uses for Hot Techs and New Tech for Unwanted Heat

Advances in exponential technology happen fast — too fast for Singularity Hub to cover them all. This weekly bulletin points to significant developments to keep readers in the know. Here’s a clever new use for...

Wireless Charging of Phones From Across the Room? The Tech Inches Closer

Wireless energy transmission has been possible since Thomas Edison’s time, and in the last several years, especially, with robots gaining mobility and electric vehicles building consumer demand, we’ve heard almost daily promises that the days of tangled power cords are numbered. So why do the vast majority of EV drivers and smartphone users, not to mention robots, remain tethered to plug-in chargers and cables?

Following the Solar Brick Road to Clean Energy and Smart Roadways

A proposal to power the entire United States with solar energy, without wires or solar farms, by using solar cells to pave roads and parking lots, is certainly a big idea. It comes from the Idaho couple, Scott and Julie Brusaw, yet it’s promising enough to have received finding from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration. Now their company, Solar Roadways, is looking for another $1 million in funding on Indiegogo to manufacture the product commercially.

Singularity Surplus: The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful

U.N. goals whittle child and maternal death rates; computer solves word problems so you don't have to; the Milky Way gets an MRI; making fuel out of nothing.

Raspberry Pi Keeps Wowing Us Even Two Years After Launch

With the Raspberry Pi, a programmable credit card-sized computer, British computer scientists sought to rekindle garage innovation. What would young students do with the power of computing if they could buy a computer for just $35 and access all of its parts?

Clean Energy Growth Stalls With Loss of Incentives

In 2013, the addition of renewable capacity slowed slightly compared to the previous year as a result of shrinking governmental incentives and investment, according to a new report from The Pew Chartiable Trusts. While the survey found that renewable energy still relies on public incentives, it also suggested that at least parts of the industry are not as dependent as they once were on such incentives, thanks to falling prices.

Air Pollution Killed 7 Million in 2012, According to WHO

Air pollution claimed 7 million lives in 2012, according to a report just released by the World Health Organization, with the vast majority of deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. One out of every eight premature deaths in 2012 was attributable to air pollution, the numbers reveal — a rate double that reported in previous years due to more accurate measures of pollution in both outdoor and indoor environments and in a broader range of rural areas.

Singularity Surplus: Smile, You’re on Candid Camera!

Computers' EQ rises; lab-grown muscles get stronger; Texas goes big in wind power; and researchers create real-time video game interface of the human brain.

Facebook Will Expand Global Internet Access And Reach With Drones and Satellites

Echoing Google's Project Loon, Facebook is now looking to connect those would-be users. Facebook will use drones, along with satellites and the emerging free-space optical communications protocol, to connect the unconnected.
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Singularity Surplus: Put on Your Electric Thinking Cap!

Brain stimulation leads to faster learning; TED marks 30th anniversary with giant digital art display; flying wind turbine poised for test run in Alaska.

U.S. Navy Explores Beaming Solar Power From Space

The Naval Research Laboratory has built a solar module capable of capturing and transmitting solar power from space, where it's never cloudy.

100% Renewable Energy Is Feasible and Affordable, According to Stanford Proposal

Stanford University researchers led by civil engineer Mark Jacobson has drawn up detailed plans for each state in the union that show how the United States could move to 100 percent wind, water and solar power by 2050 using only technology that’s already available.

Wirelessly Charging All-Electric Transit Buses Grow Their Numbers in Europe

In Milton Keynes, 75 miles north of London, the UK is launching its first all-electric buses. The years-long pilot program consists of eight buses traveling a 15-mile route between the suburbs of Wolverton and...

Hydrogen Vehicles, Long Promised, Finally Hit the Road

After years running on the fumes of hype, hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles are beginning to hit the road. Toyota made a big splash when it announced at the annual Consumer Electronics Show that it would market such a car beginning in the 2015 model year. Hyundai has also committed to roll out a fuel-cell vehicle next year. And Honda has already begun leasing its hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity to customers in California.

Edible Batteries Could Power a Range of Smart Pills and Medical Devices

Carnegie Mellon materials engineer Christopher Bettinger argues that flexible biodegradable batteries safe for human consumption could maximize the benefits of smart pills and devices “by harnessing simultaneous advantages afforded by electronically active systems and obviating issues with chronic implants.” In a recent paper, Bettinger documents that such a battery made from the pigment cuttlefish — sea creatures related to squid — can discharge 10 microamperes of electricity for a period of five hours, with performance under ideal circumstances of up to 24 hours.

Power Storage, Missing Link in Path to Renewables, Gets a Mandate in California

The inability to store electrical power has become more important as the developed world has begun to try to adopt cleaner energy sources, such as solar and wind power. The sun isn’t always shining and the wind isn’t always blowing, but people and factories always need electricity. But energy storage is getting its mainstream debut in California. The state has mandated that by 2024, its major utilities provide 1,325 megawatts of storage, which is slightly more than what a single major power plant produces and about a fifth of a percent of what the state used on average per day, according to the most recent state statistics.

New York Manhole Covers To Deliver Power to Electric Vehicles

New York startup HEVO has come up with a clever way to make EV charging more convenient in urban environments. Reserved parking spots feature what look like manholes in the pavement, but are in fact wireless charging devices that will give the trucks a little more juice while they sit.

General Electric Expands Internet of Things to More Industrial Equipment

General Electric recently took a big step toward realizing the long overdue promise of the Internet of Things, when it more than doubled the industrial analytical software systems it offers to connect machines and handle their data. The company hopes to make its mark by significantly reducing the amount of “unplanned downtime” that industrial equipment undergoes, thereby bringing about economic benefits.

Singularity University Graduates 2013 Class: Startups Emerge To Solve Major Health Problems

Over the weekend, the latest graduates of Singularity University’s Graduate Studies Program presented their proposals for using accelerating technologies to solve major world problems. The exhibition offered a sneak peek at the kinds of innovations that may hit the market two to five years from now.

Solar Continued Exponential Growth in 2012, But Politics May Stymie Growth

At any given moment, the sun bathes the earth in enough solar energy to power the world 10,000 times over. Capturing and converting that energy into usable electricity presents major technical challenges. And, for the time being, an international tangle of politics and prices complicates matters further.

Scientists Ponder Human Role in Mid-Atlantic Dolphin Die-Off

The number of bottlenose dolphins beaching themselves along the Mid-Atlantic coast skyrocketed in July and early August, leading the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to declare on August 8 an “unusual mortality event” and launch an investigation into what might be causing the deaths.

Musk Estimates Hyperloop Could Shoot Travelers from SF to LA at 760 Miles Per Hour

Elon Musk has long been hinting about a high-speed form of transportation enigmatically named the Hyperloop. Earlier this summer, he promised to reveal his Hyperloop plans in August. After a round of media hype and an all-nighter, Musk recently posted the 57-page Hyperloop Alpha plan online.

Solar Powered Aircraft Flies From SF to NYC Under Solar Power (With a Few Pitstops)

A manned solar-powered plane, dubbed Solar Impulse, recently touched down at New York’s JFK after flying the final leg of its journey across the US. The trip, a decade in the making, was itself but another step on the Solar Impulse team’s quest to fly around the world on solar power alone.

NASA’s Trial Polar Rover Studies One of the Harshest Places on Earth

NASA recently concluded a successful six-week test of a prototype polar rover near the highest point in Greenland, where the robotic vehicle traversed icy terrain in temperatures of minus 30 Celsius to help scientists learn more about how ice sheets are faring in the changing climate — without having to break for hot cocoa.

Oslo Burns So Much Trash for Energy They’re Importing Rubbish

The US throws out 250 million tons of garbage a year. Roughly a third is recycled, and the rest is landfill. You might think that’s a problem, but one man’s trash is another’s treasure. Oslo, Norway burns rubbish to power and heat homes, and they’ve run out. The city imports trash from Sweden, Ireland, England—and they wouldn’t mind taking on a few tons from the US.

Our Singularity Future: Humanity’s Trash Piling Up In Great Lakes

Technology allows us to achieve great things – so many goods are made affordable, for example, by mass production. But when mass production is not responsibly planned out and regulated, trash starts piling up.

Report: Energy Remains As “Dirty” As Ever Despite Rise Of Renewable Energy

A new report from the International Energy Agency shows that, despite the rapid spread of renewable technologies, the energy produced today is just as “dirty” as it was 20 years ago.

CO2 Emissions in US Plunge to 1994 Levels As Natural Gas Booms

Proponents of natural gas, or methane in its purest form, say it is cleaner than coal and oil, lacks the PR problems and toxic waste byproducts of nuclear, and more efficiently produces electricity than sustainable sources. It is abundant and, in recent years, cheap. Is natural gas the future of energy production, a risky stop-gap measure to energy independence and cleaner energy, or simply overhyped?

America’s First Offshore Wind Farm Closer To Reality After Receiving $2 Billion From Japanese Bank

Offshore wind farms are finally arriving on US shores – and they’re doing it with foreign help. Plans to install Cape Wind, a 468 MW, 130 turbine wind farm in the waters off the...

World’s Largest Solar Power Plant Online In United Arab Emirates

And now, this country that has risen from poverty to become the world’s thirteenth richest after striking oil, is doing renewable energy in a characteristically big way. They’ve just completed the world’s largest solar power station.

Accelerating Technology Parallels Exponentially Rising Piles of Junk

In the midst of a move and digging through the clutter, I’ve excavated a number of ancient pieces of tech from bygone eras. There’s a 2004 Apple Powerbook that’s thicker than the econ textbook it’s sitting on, a cracked first generation iPhone, and an early “flatscreen” TV (that’s far from flat). What to do with this stuff? The faster we move from one generation of technology to the next, the faster the current iteration is destined for the trash heap. Does accelerating tech therefore doom us to flee an uninhabitable WALL-E world in the future? Maybe, but probably not.

‘Net-Zero’ Energy Store Being Built By Walgreens

Could a large American retail store produce as much energy as it consumes? Walgreens is going all 'green' to find out. The company recently announced a plan to erect a 'net-zero' energy store to replace an older one located in Evanston, Illinois. Through thoughtful and innovative design, the prototype store is specially designed to utilize various renewable energies technologies, such as wind, solar, and geothermal, in order to produce as much or potentially even more energy than it actually needs to operate.

Sea Installer – The Enormous Ocean Wind Turbine Installation Vessel

Technological progress advances our ability to build bigger and badder machines. A recent example is Sea Installer, part of the next generation of powerful wind turbine installation vessels that are capable of moving and installing...

GravityLight — Using Gravity To Bring Light To The Developing World

On the simplest level, GravityLight converts gravitational energy into light, just like its name promises. That's right, you lift a bag filled with 20 pounds of stuff (sand, earth, whatever) and attach it to a cord. As gravity pulls the bag down, an LED light is illuminated, working kind of like those hand-cranked flashlights. A braking mechanism causes the weight to drop slowly, producing about 30 minutes of light, and returning the bag to its original height "restarts" the light.

Stanford Group Successfully Fabricates ‘Peel and Stick’ Solar Cells

In a December paper published in Nature’s preliminary research online publication, Scientific Reports, Stanford researchers announced a fabrication process that makes thin-film solar cell (TFSC) stickers. The resulting TFSCs are thinner and lighter than today’s solar panels. And according to the researchers these “peel-and-stick” solar cells can be stuck just about anywhere—no surface is too curvy or uneven.

German Military Laser Destroys Targets Over 1Km Away

A German company has brought us one step closer to the kinds of shootouts only seen in Sci-Fi films. Düsseldorf-based Rheinmetall Defense recently tested a 50kW, high-energy laser at their proving ground facility in...

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