Think Al Gore’s recent challenge to generate all of its America’s electricity carbon-free by 2018 is a stretch?
It may not be such a pipe dream, if some of the innovations being implemented elsewhere make it here. A recent New York Times article about the transmaterial.net web site, which reports on new “materials transforming our physical environment,” cites some several very cool and promising green energy producers for electronics.
From Sweden comes the Parans Solar Lighting System that collects sunlight on a rooftop and transmits it over a fiber-optic network to illuminate dark interior spaces with a natural lighting effect. This looks like a promising lighting technology for homes and commercial buildings, and it’s available now.
An Eco-Curtain by Inaba Electric Works in Japan uses 775 vertical-axis mini-wind turbines on a shopping center’s façade to produce about 7,551 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, enough to power the center’s indoor lighting, the Times article says. Okay, so a bunch of little wind turbines on your house may not look so great, but you can get vertical-axis wind turbines for your roof from companies such as PacWind .
There’s a GreenPix zero-energy “media wall” that uses photovoltaic cells within a building’s façade to power thousands of LEDs in the largest LED display on Earth. It stores solar energy collected during the day to illuminate the LEDs at night. It’s integrated with the curtain wall of the Xicui entertainment complex in Beijing near the site of the 2008 Olympics. It’s likely not for home use, but imagine that technology in Times Square or on the Las Vegas Strip.
My guess is that you’ll see these technologies and many similar ones become commonplace in the next few years. Buildings and homes can generate much of the power we need from natural resources, so the electric utilities won’t have build as much alternative power infrastructure. Meeting Gore’s alternative-energy challenge will still be a mighty undertaking, but technologies like these are sure to help.