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Solar Technology Can Now Power Your Roads — And Your Clothes

Tokyo is building solar roads to help make their 2020 Olympics into an eco-friendly event.

Photo by Skeeze/Pixabay.

Our world is currently powered by human-generated electricity.


And while it doesn’t seem like we’re going to run out of electricity any time soon, that doesn’t mean it’s a sustainable resource. Power plants emit pollution into the air on a daily basis, meaning that generating electricity is one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

Solar energy is working to combat that. The idea is simple: Use a natural resource — the sun — for electricity instead of nonrenewable resources.

Other than pointing out the occasional set of solar panels on the roof of a mansion, a lot of us are pretty unaware of the advancements solar energy has made in the last few years.

Here are two recently emergent solar-based technologies:

A vehicle drives on the transparent, weight-bearing solar panels of the world's first photovoltaic expressway in Jinan, Shandong province’s capital city. Photo by Luo bo/AP.

Solar-powered roads

Tokyo has recently announced plans to build solar roads to help make their 2020 Olympics into an eco-friendly event. These experimental roadways are made with load-bearing solar panels that are covered in a special resin, according to the Independent. Cars can drive on these durable roads while the panels generate electricity for adjacent communities.

Japan’s solar road was installed in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven convenience store in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, in May 2018. The shop’s manager has high hopes for the development: “The solar road system can generate 16,145 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, covering about 9% of the entire electricity that the store consumes.”

And in China – the world’s leading solar energy producer — a photovoltaic expressway recently promised a new future for clean energy (until thieves stole one of the panels, that is).

Last year, solar-powered pavement technology was also tested out along Route 66. If roadways using solar-powered technology catch on, it could help encourage clean energy use in the U.S. In fact, the Jefferson City News Tribune reports that the LED-embedded solar panels along the famed highway “will be used to generate electricity for the Route 66 Welcome Center.”

According to Solar Roadway, the company behind this technology, the solar-powered pavement along Route 66 can generate clean energy and also has thermal LED bulbs that can melt snow during winter.

Wearable solar

Wearable solar goes far beyond solar-powered watches. In 2016, the textiles industry discovered that solar panels can be stitched into panels of fabric. Solar textiles can not only increase the renewable energy that’s collected, they can also increase the number of solar devices in your home. For example, these solar textiles can be stitched into curtains, tablecloths, and even car upholstery, allowing heated seats to be powered by renewable energy.

Solar innovation isn’t going anywhere. Within just the last few years, we’ve made solar a seamless part of everyday life, literally weaving it into the clothes on our backs.

Articles

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Australian Youth Coal Coalition, a pro-coal Facebook page, posted a photo showing trash strewn across a park after what appears to have been a large event. "Look at the mess today's climate protesters left behind in beautiful Hyde Park," the photo was captioned. "So much plastic. So much landfill. So sad." The only problem is, the photo wasn't taken after a climate change protest. It wasn't even taken in Australia.

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via GOOD / YouTube

Last Friday, millions of people in 150 countries across the globe took to the streets to urge world leaders to enact dramatic solutions to combat climate change.

The Climate Strike was inspired, in part, by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden who has captured worldwide attention for her tireless work to hold lawmakers responsible for the climate crisis.

The strike gave people across the planet the opportunity to make their voices heard before the U.N. General Assembly Climate Summit in New York City on Monday.

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Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

As world leaders meet to discuss new ways to tackle climate change at the U.N. Climate Action Summit, they might miss one very big part of healing nature – nature. In a new short film, youth climate change activist Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot, a writer for the Guardian, talked about how we need to use nature as a solution to climate change.

There's a huge push to curb emissions, but it's not the be all end all of handling climate change; we also need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. While we don't have technology to do that for us, there is another solution. "There is a magic machine that sucks carbon out of the air, costs very little, and builds itself. It's called a tree," Monboit says in the film. Researchers found that we could get rid of two-thirds of the carbon dioxide that we've emitted during the industrial era just by growing trees. That amounts to 205 billion tons of carbon. Right now, deforestation of tropical forests is responsible for 20% of current greenhouse emissions.

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Climate Action Tracker

In 2016, 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement, pledging to combat climate change by taking action to curb the increase in global temperatures. The Paris Agreement requires countries to report on their emissions and what steps they're taking to implement those plans. Now that the countries are coming together again for the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City, it's worth taking a look at what kind of progress they've made.

The Climate Action Trackerkeeps tabs on what each country is doing to limit warming, and if they're meeting their self-set goals. Countries are graded based on whether or not their actions would help limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.

According to a recent article from National Geographic, The Gambia, Morocco, and India are at the head of the class. "Even though carbon emissions in The Gambia, Morocco, and India are expected to rise, they'll fall short of exceeding the 1.5-degree Celsius limit," the article reads. Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States, on the other hand, get a big fat F. "Projected emissions in Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States are far greater than what it would take to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

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Screenshot via Sweden.se/Twitter (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

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