Europe has set a course for a low-carbon economy, but what does this mean in practice? This month, Horizon looks at the carbon-free innovations set to change our lives, from neighbourhoods that can produce more energy than they consume, to Europe's renewable energy cooperatives. We also explore new technologies to minimise the risk of nuclear meltdown, and find out how a tie-up between researchers in the EU and North Africa could help bring renewable energy innovations to the Mediterranean region.
Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island - all three nuclear disasters were caused by human error, in one form or another. Now researchers are working on ways to ensure nuclear power plants remain safe – by making safety systems that can operate automatically.
A growing number of environmentally minded people are putting their money where their mouths are and directly investing in projects such as solar and wind farms, thanks to a rise in community-based financing schemes such as crowdfunding and renewable energy cooperatives.
An experimental project connecting renewable energy researchers in the EU with colleagues in Morocco and Tunisia could help pave the way for a market in renewable energy and energy efficiency that spans the Mediterranean, according to Claude Ayache, senior advisor for European affairs at the EU’s public-private green energy partnership, InnoEnergy.
Robots won’t replace doctors any day soon, but they can already help medical professionals do amazing things. This month, Horizon looks at how robots will someday perform remote physical and ultrasound examinations so doctors can make a diagnosis from a distance, and medical avatars for elderly people that help them stay fit and safe. Plus, we see how computer games could make young people lead healthier lifestyles and how to give self-help apps more scientific merit.
How will we have enough food to feed another 2 billion people by the middle of this century without destroying our planet? Agriculture is already one of the biggest contributors to climate change. This month, we hear from scientists designing disease-resistant crops using gene editing, packing more calcium into finger millet, and resurrecting ancient crop varieties to offset the sector’s environmental impact. Plus, we hear from Dr Manoj Dora about so-called lean agriculture, which is looking to make agriculture more sustainable by eliminating waste from the production process.
Using off-the-shelf technology and innovative economics, lightweight helium balloons have started carrying remote-controlled laboratories to the edge of space and back, offering the business case for new types of science missions.
Floating research laboratories are reaching the fringes of space.
Automated and connected devices can save lives.
EU firms should be brought within ‘innovation ecosystems’ to develop breakthrough technology, according to Prof. Luke Georghiou.