Solar power, once so costly it only made economic sense in spaceships, is becoming cheap enough that it will push coal and even natural-gas plants out of business faster than previously forecast.
An innocuous metal cylinder in a garden at the foot of the Italian Alps, quietly snacking on air pollution, may be part of the answer to President-elect Donald Trump’s ambition to stimulate coal burning.
Its maker, U-Earth Biotechnologies, is one of a handful of companies worldwide seeking to combat smog by, essentially, digesting it. The 10-foot tall cylinder, part of a demonstration project in Turin, contains a strain of bacteria that can consume car exhaust, sulfur dioxide from coal plants and other airborne nasties. One of the units can create a bubble of clean air about the size of a basketball court, according to co-founder Betta Maggio.
Coal dust is responsible for about 22,900 premature deaths per year in the E.U., according to areport released Tuesday. This report is the first analysis to show how coal dust travels, damaging the health in countries hundreds of kilometers away.
In May, for the first time ever, solar produced more electricity than coal in the United Kingdom.