12 Technologies Which Could Save The World
BuzzFeed, February 18, 2015
1. Solar glass
We’re familiar with solar panels, and solar is probably the most promising renewable energy source. But we are on the verge of a major change in the technology.
“Power generating windows are already available and companies are working hard to cut costs and improve efficiency,” says James Murray of the website BusinessGreen. “But the most exciting aspect of solar glass is its position as the most visible example of thin film solar technologies, lightweight, flexible and printable solar cells that can be integrated in everything from clothes to cark park canopies. Forget solar panels, within a decade solar cells could be everywhere.”
2. Solar lamps
Sometimes the simplest technologies are the most important. Solar lamps sound like a punchline to a joke, but they are providing free, carbon-neutral lighting for millions of families in Africa and Asia. And they have a more immediate benefit: Because most poor families rely on kerosene lamps, the uptake of solar has led to a huge improvement in air quality. “SolarAid has now sold more than 1.5 million solar lamps in Africa, saving families $215m in kerosene costs and leading to 3.6 million people reporting better health as air pollution falls,” says Murray. “It’s a forerunner of the solar consumer electronics revolution: Companies such as Apple investigate are looking into integrating solar cells into phones and laptops.”
Since some of these technologies feel like they’re some way in the future, it’s worth looking at one that is very much part of our lives right now: The humble light-emitting diode. Since the invention of the blue LED (and the white lights they allowed), the little lamps have become ubiquitous. “LED bulbs cut energy use by up to 80 per cent,” says Murray, “and, according to Philips, they will save 515 million tonnes of carbon emissions by 2020.”