There is huge potential for renewable energy to greatly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels for transportation. The technologies that move people and goods from place to place are evolving rapidly.
Transportation requires massive amounts of energy. Currently, 55 percent of the world's petroleum is used for transportation, contributing significantly to global warming. The transportation sector is responsible for 14 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (28% in the US).
- Transportation Mode:
- Energy Powering the Vehicle:
- Hybrid electric powertrains
- Compressed natural gas/propane
- Hydrogen fuel cell
- Vehicle fuel efficiency
Personal transportation is becoming more efficient, largely in response to consumer demand for hybrid vehicles and policy shifts requiring cars and trucks to get more miles per gallon. Auto manufacturers are shifting their focus to fuel efficiency after years of building larger, heavier models. Industry engineers and scientists are developing a wide range of transportation-related technologies including ultra-light materials and advanced battery technologies for hybrid and all-electric vehicles.
One of the most promising solutions being discussed by transportation and sustainability experts is to power vehicles with electricity produced from clean renewable energy and distributed through a smart grid. This is particularly well suited for auto-centric societies such as North America and increasingly China and India.
Mass transit technologies provide another promising solution to the transportation challenge. Examples include super efficient high-speed trains, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), light rail, and urban streetcar (trolley/tram) systems.
Beyond personal transportation, air and ocean travel, shipping and freight present additional challenges and opportunities for renewable fuels to supplant fossil fuels. Commercial and civilian aviation, passenger rail and freight, cruise ships and container ships all have the potential to employ renewable energy. Examples include advanced aviation fuels from algae and jatropha, hybrid diesel-electric locomotives, and using solar power and wind power to partly drive container ships.
Renewable energy sources have great potential to meet foreseeable transportation energy demands with continued investment and technological advances. Keep an eye on Energy Boom to track the rapid developments in the transportation sector.
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