This Week in Sustainability: Renewable Energy and the MIT Media Lab

 |   Josh Henretig

may9This week, Scientific American reported on two professors, Mark Jacobson and Mark Delucchi, who first published an article together in 2009 that showed how the entire world could get all necessary energy from wind, water and solar sources by 2030. The two scientists recently updated their plans and ideas to show how communities and regions can begin a wholesale shift toward renewables. Using New York State as an example, they have developed a formula for implementing wind, water and sun as the main power source behind this approach. The mix for New York includes 40 percent offshore wind, 10 percent onshore wind, 10 percent concentrated solar panels, 10 percent photovoltaic cells, 6 percent residential solar, 5 percent geothermal, 5.5 percent hydroelectric, 1 percent tidal energy and 0.5 percent wave energy. Initial models show this new process as reducing power demand by 37 percent due to increased efficiency in the energy sources. Creative methods such as this may aid speedier implementation of renewable energy sources.

Elsewhere this week, the MIT Media Lab was highlighted by the Financial Times. The Media Lab is comprised of 27 research teams that often collaborate across various projects. The teams consist of visiting scientists and graduate students as well as MIT’s brightest undergraduates. Focused on multimedia computing and communications, they create innovative projects to improve the world through technology and science. A few notable projects include CityCar, a car with electrically powered robotic wheels that enable the car to “fold up” when parked, and City Homes, which feature robotic walls, furniture and appliances that can transform the room of small living spaces. The projects extend well beyond car and city to urban agriculture, with an aeroponic approach to urban farming, dubbed SeedPod, where plant roots grow in air bags filled with a fine mist of water and nutrients rather than soil. These ideas, some of which seem straight from the future, are poised to become a reality as we turn to innovation to create a more sustainable way of life. For a company committed to how technology can unleash potential and solve societal challenges, we applaud our fellow technologists who are imagining a greener future.

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