The BP oil spill was a stark reminder that alternatives to oil must be found, and fast. WIPR looks at the role intellectual property can play in meeting that challenge.
The United States consumes a lot of energy. While China has overtaken it as the world’s largest consumer overall, US citizens use the equivalent of 6.95 tonnes of oil per capita each year (2009 estimate). This number is lower than it was a decade ago, but it is still high enough to cause concern, especially if, as some analysts suggest, the world has already hit peak oil.
Couple high consumption in the developed world (Canada and Australia in particular boast similar levels of per capita use) with rapid increases in developing countries, as well as with the threat of climate change, and the case for green, renewable energy technologies is clear.
But unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just designing the technology, marketing it and selling it. It has to be profitable and competitive too. There is no point in developing an efficient solar cell if the energy it produces costs five times the energy produced by coal.
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IP, patents, BP, oil spill, green, alternative, energy