Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Sustainable Energy

Engineering Climate

How technology can help the planet.

The United Nations-sponsored Kyoto Protocol, which aims to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, went into effect in more than 130 countries in February. Nonetheless, climate experts predict that the average global temperature will climb between 1.4°C and 5.8°C during this century. Researchers around the world are working on a wide variety of technologies – from new sources of energy to microbes that could help livestock pass less methane – aimed at mitigating and coping with climate change.

Use the following map as a key for locations where each topic is being mentioned (below):

1. Coal: FutureGen, a U.S.-based collaboration of public and private organizations, is a 10-year, $1-billion effort to build a coal-based, zero-emission hydrogen and electricity plant.

This story is part of our March 2005 Issue
See the rest of the issue
Subscribe

2. Carbon Sequestration: The J. Craig Venter Institute is analyzing water samples from the Sargasso Sea, employing the same high-throughput sequencing technologies used to sequence the human genome. The institute has discovered 1,800 new species of microbes and over 1.2 million new genes. The U.S. Department of Energy hopes such studies will enable scientists to find organisms and biochemical pathways that could be used to pull excess carbon out of the atmosphere and to provide clean sources of energy.

3. Renewables: Costa Rica derives 92 percent of its energy from renewable sources.

4. Biodiesel: Brazilian gas stations are now permitted to add 2 percent “biodiesel,” a cleaner-burning diesel derived from vegetable oils, to diesel made from petroleum. The government has authorized stations to increase the proportion of vegetable diesel in diesel fuel to 5 percent or more by 2010.

5. Wind: Germany generates one-third of the world’s wind-powered electricity and plans to approximately triple its capacity by 2030.

6. Forecasting: The United Kingdom’s Centre for Global Atmospheric Modelling is using one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers to produce more-reliable long-term weather predictions in order to help nations prepare for the impact of climate change. The “Earth Simulator,” located in Yokohama, Japan, is capable of sustained performance of 35.86 teraflops, has a main memory of 10 terabytes and is housed in a building the size of four tennis courts.

Hydrogen: Tokyo Gas launched the world’s first residential fuel-cell system in early February. In this pilot project, a homeowner can lease a unit that extracts hydrogen from natural gas and uses it to generate enough electricity to meet about 60 percent of the demand of a typical four-person household. Each unit will reduce a home’s annual greenhouse-gas emissions by approximately 40 percent. The 10-year lease will cost 1 million yen ($9,607), and savings from reduced energy usage will not entirely cover the cost of the lease; the shortfall is about 40,000 yen ($384) per home per year.

7. Methane Reduction: Livestock, which belch and otherwise generate great amounts of methane, account for more than half of New Zealand’s greenhouse-gas emissions. The Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium funds research aimed at reducing methane production from grazing animals; its projects include the development of new feed formulations and the identification of viruses that could selectively kill gas-producing bacteria in livestock’s rumens.

Meet the Experts in AI, Robotics and the Economy at EmTech Next.

Learn more and register
More from Sustainable Energy

Can we sustainably provide food, water, and energy to a growing population during a climate crisis?

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Print Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.