If recent projects are any indication, energy is a hot topic. From advances in sustainable production, to energy independence, to efficiency and control, the issues are boiling over and innovation is gathering steam. Above: Four solar energy technologies illustrated: photovoltaic panels, solar water heating, solar power tower and passive solar heating. Right: Cutaway illustration of a new horizontal drilling technique that increases yield and reduces equipment costs and surface disturbance.
Left: If the US’ annual energy consumption was converted to coal, it would fill a 1,000 mile-long train consisting of 100,000 cars. If that coal were to be dumped on Manhattan, a 23 square mile island, the pile would be 160 feet deep. If the entire world’s energy consumption were converted to coal, the pile would be 618 feet — it would reach the 60th floor of the Empire State Building. Wind power would account for 14 inches of the pile. Solar power, a mere 10 sheets of paper thick.
Below: Smart homes will manage energy usage, take advantage of off-peak energy, control appliances, produce energy and sell it back to the grid, and brief homeowners about their energy consumption, and encourage efficient living.