Oil won't run the world forever, but it will for the next few decades--so how do we get from here to the next energy economy?
By Paul RobertsPosted 07.12.2011 at 10:16 am 45 Comments
For all our talk of an online future unbounded by physical limits, life in our increasingly global economy still requires the movement of actual people and things, often over long distances. And without a steady supply of prehistoric hydrocarbons, that movement would come to a halt. More than 95 percent of the vehicles on Earth--from cars to trucks to freighters to jumbo jets--run on oil products, and without them we'd be hard-pressed to commute to the office or import our gadgets, much less till our fields or get food from the farm to our kitchens. For now, we must have oil.
The noise about “Peak Lithium”—the idea that not enough economically extractable lithium exists in the world to support a large-scale switch to cars powered by lithium-based batteries—has quieted significantly in the past year, but I still sometimes get asked: Are we going to run out of this stuff?
Not any time soon. In fact, as a noted market analyst made clear this morning, so many companies are developing so many lithium deposits around the world that many of them will probably go out of business, because they’re on track to dramatically oversupply the world with lithium.
By Suzanne LaBarrePosted 08.31.2010 at 11:07 am 9 Comments
Solar panels are a common sight on rooftops but rare on vertical walls, which, being more or less parallel to the noonday sun, get less solar energy. Hoping to take advantage of this unused space, design start-up SMIT looked at how ivy plants nonetheless thrive on the sides of buildings. The company’s upcoming solar-energy system takes inspiration from the way a vine’s many leaves individually maximize their sun exposure.