7 of the biggest innovations that made headlines in 2015

7 of the biggest innovations that made headlines in 2015

As we look ahead to 2016, you’ll again hear the words “gamer-changer” or “breakthrough” get thrown around a lot. It seems like everything these days from pasta to toothbrushes — heck, even the wheel, is being re-imagined.

However, very few innovations qualify as life-altering. We’re talking about the kind of progress that’ll go a long way toward eradicating the spread of disease, increasing longevity and lead to healthier sex lives. These advances free up more time for the joys of virtual reality and hoverboards. They make good on humanity’s designs to expand its reach ever further into outer space. Of course, its also crucial that we get to a point where any and all such futuristic endeavors can be fueled by 100 percent clean energy.

In that sense, 2015 was the year science and technology moved a step closer to bringing about this shared vision. Here’s the rundown of how it happened:

1. Battery storage goes big 

More and more renewable energy, while always a good thing, won’t be enough. That’s the take-home message from Tesla chief executive Elon Musk when he took the stage in April to unveil Powerwall, a home battery system designed to store and supply solar energy.

On paper, clean sources of energy are exponentially more than capable of replacing fossil fuels. If humans were somehow able to convert 1/10,000 of the sunlight that the earth receives, the world would have all the fuel it currently needs. And according to a study published in Nature Climate Change, wind power from turbines alone can satisfy global energy demands more than 100 times over.

Solar energy, of course, isn’t readily available round the clock or year round. Nor is it economically feasible to erect a wind turbine for every square mile. Home and commercial battery systems help to fill in these gaps by storing excess energy collected during daylight hours and releasing it in the evening.

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