Can Emerging Technology Solutions Combat the Climate Crisis?

Global warming isn’t slowing down. Greenhouse gas levels are at their highest recorded levels, the oceans are heavily polluted and rising in temperature, and the planet’s resources are depleting. In fact, many experts suggest that we are in the middle of a climate crisis — one that needs to be addressed.

While climate change and its effects have become a critical conversation for governments worldwide, some of them have taken it upon themselves to build products and solutions using emerging technology solutions to fight the crisis head-on.

In this piece, we’ll discuss a few innovative technology solutions that are significantly contributing to combating climate change.

1. Harnessing Solar Energy

The source of the biggest emerging technology solutions to combating climate change has actually been around for millennia — solar energy.

Solar panels use renewable solar energy and convert it into electricity without releasing greenhouse gases. Not only is this an extremely efficient process of generating power, but it is also significantly cheaper than fossil fuels. In fact, this emerging technology solution helped renewables in the US leap from 9% in 2008 to 17% in 2018. And it doesn’t stop there.

For instance, China built the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park — one of the largest solar parks in the world, spread across 27 square kilometers. This park outputs over 850MW, which is enough clean energy to power nearly 200,000 homes. Similarly, the Cochin Airport in India is the first airport to run entirely on solar power. In fact, the airport’s solar farm even gives back energy to the electrical grid! Netherland’s solar-powered bike path, California’s photovoltaic power station, Australia’s solar buses — these are just some of the many emerging solar technology solutions that are helping fight climate change.

2. Carbon capture

According to research by scientists, the world will be unable to limit global warming to 1.5°C without eliminating roughly 100 billion — 1 trillion tons of CO₂ that have already been released.

While planting more trees may seem like the simplest answer, it isn’t sustainable, nor is it a long-term solution, given the rapid rate of urbanisation and industrialisation in the world today. And hence, many companies are experimenting with different emerging technology solutions to capture CO₂ efficiently.

Some of the promising solutions include using bioenergy to capture and store carbon and the process of direct air capture. Today, there are over ten operational plants that capture direct air in the United States, Europe, and Canada, with plans for bigger plants underway. If successful, each plant can capture up to 1 million tonnes of CO₂ each year.

Similarly, a Swiss startup called ClimeWorks captures CO₂ and sells it to the food and beverage industry to make carbonated drinks.

Another company called Newlight uses the captured carbon dioxide to create a growth solution that feeds microorganisms that produce the material used to make bioplastics. In essence, the idea is to create a feedback loop that helps reduce the concentration of harmful carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which can prove to be beneficial in tackling the climate crisis.

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