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5 of the Best TED Talks About Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy
5 of the Best TED Talks About Renewable Energy
Bhutan's Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay shares his country's mission to put happiness before economic growth and set a world standard for environmental preservation. TED / YouTube screenshot

Let's be real: Renewable energy is super cool. Harnessing virtually limitless energy from the natural world? Check. Without releasing dangerous carbon pollution into our atmosphere? Double check.

Around the world, cities, states, countries, and companies are making the switch to clean, renewable energy to help stop climate change. Better yet? It just makes good economic sense.

Here are five eye-opening TED Talks that show how renewables are taking over every corner of the world — from Bhutan to Costa Rica, back to Germany, and more.


This Country Isn't Just Carbon Neutral — It's Carbon Negative | Tshering Tobgay

Quotable Moment: "The point is this: my country and my people have done nothing to contribute to global warming, but we are already bearing the brunt of its consequences. And for a small, poor country, one that is landlocked and mountainous, it is very difficult. But we are not going to sit on our hands doing nothing. We will fight climate change. That's why we have promised to remain carbon neutral."

A Printable, Flexible, Organic Solar Cell | Hannah Bürckstümmer

Quotable Moment: "This is pointing towards a future where buildings are no longer energy consumers, but energy providers. I want to see solar cells seamlessly integrated into our building shells to be both resource-efficient and a pleasure to look at."

The Thrilling Potential for Off-Grid Solar Energy | Amar Inamdar

Quotable Moment: "There's a revolution happening in the villages and towns all around us here in East Africa. And the revolution is an echo of the cell phone revolution. It's wireless, and that revolution is about solar and it's about distributed solar. Photons are wireless, they fall on every rooftop, and they generate enough power to be sufficient for every household need."

A Small Country With Big Ideas to Get Rid of Fossil Fuels | Monica Araya

Quotable Moment: "How do we build a society without fossil fuels? This is a very complex challenge, and I believe developing countries could take the lead in this transition. And I'm aware that this is a contentious statement, but the reality is that so much is at stake in our countries if we let fossil fuels stay at the center of our development. We can do it differently. And it's time, it really is time, to debunk the myth that a country has to choose between development on the one hand and environmental protection, renewables, quality of life, on the other."

How China Is (and Isn't) Fighting Pollution and Climate Change | Angel Hsu

Quotable Moment: "China is very much in the driver's seat determining our global environmental future. What they do on carbon trading, on clean energy, on air pollution, we can learn many lessons. One of those lessons is that clean energy is not just good for the environment, it can save lives by reducing air pollution. It's also good for the economy. We can see that last year, China was responsible for 30 percent of the global growth in green jobs."

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Reposted with permission from our media associate The Climate Reality Project.

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One of the challenges of renewable power is how to store clean energy from the sun, wind and geothermal sources. Now, a new study and advances in nanotechnology have found a method that may relieve the burden on supercapacitor storage. This method turns bricks into batteries, meaning that buildings themselves may one day be used to store and generate power, Science Times reported.

Bricks are a preferred building tool for their durability and resilience against heat and frost since they do not shrink, expand or warp in a way that compromises infrastructure. They are also reusable. What was unknown, until now, is that they can be altered to store electrical energy, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.

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The first bricks they modified stored enough of a charge to power a small light. They can be charged in just 13 minutes and hold 10,000 charges, but the challenge is getting them to hold a much larger charge, making the technology a distant proposition.

If the capacity can be increased, researchers believe bricks can be used as a cheap alternative to lithium ion batteries — the same batteries used in laptops, phones and tablets.

The first power bricks are only one percent of a lithium-ion battery, but storage capacity can be increased tenfold by adding materials like metal oxides, Julio D'Arcy, a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who contributed to the paper and was part of the research team, told The Guardian. But only when the storage capacity is scaled up would bricks become commercially viable.

"A solar cell on the roof of your house has to store electricity somewhere and typically we use batteries," D'Arcy told The Guardian. "What we have done is provide a new 'food-for-thought' option, but we're not there yet.

"If [that can happen], this technology is way cheaper than lithium ion batteries," D'Arcy added. "It would be a different world and you would not hear the words 'lithium ion battery' again."

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