Global carbon dioxide emissions have reached 36 billion tons annually. These emissions are attributable in roughly equal parts to heavy-industry operations and fossil-fuel-based power plants, buildings (and the built environment) and transportation. The world continues to experience increases in highest recorded temperatures and days above historical average temperatures, as well as increasingly erratic weather patterns and extreme storm events. If we do not take action now, these conditions will continue and become irreversible.
Currently, the creation, expansion and growth of the hydrogen economy; the rapid increase in the electrification of transportation; and the dramatic growth in renewable energy generation and storage infrastructure are expected to reduce carbon emissions associated with homes, commercial buildings, already-electrified industrial processes and land-based transportation. However, emissions from many heavy industries, along with air and marine transportation, remain the same. A shift toward a lower-carbon economy via renewable energy sources and disruptive solutions is desperately needed in all sectors to face the climate challenge.
Even if all land-based transportation runs on 100% renewably generated electricity by 2050, in order to meet global climate goals — such as limiting the increase in global warming to no more than 2 more degrees Celsius — we would need to remove 10 to 20 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year from now through the end of the 21st century. The climate challenge cannot be solved by technology alone. Important factors like economics, policy, social behavior and health will all play a role. To achieve these goals, individuals from diverse backgrounds will need to think collectively and creatively to develop solutions that have the potential to solve one of the major challenges in our lifetime.
The team incorporates technology as a core component of the proposed solution and exhibits full understanding of its potential impact, readiness and applicability.
The solution is innovative with respect to its reliance on existing ideas, processes and/or products. For example, the team must convey evidence using research and demonstrate what makes its solution innovative.
The solution is realistic. The team has defined concrete next steps to implement the solution. The team also provides well-defined next steps and ample evidence to prove the solution’s feasibility.
The solution alludes to societal value. The team fully explains its structured thought process for identifying market need and societal value add.