photo: Bundesautobahn (Flickr CC)

The global shipping industry produces 3 billion metric tons of carbon emissions every year. That’s as much CO2 as the combined output of Japan, Canada, Mexico and Germany.

Greenhouse gas emissions from freight are a serious problem, but there are examples of alternative technology. One that is probably more familiar to most of us is the use of overhead electric cables, like the ones used to power tram lines or trolleybuses. Freight trucks could be powered in the same way.

In Brandenburg, Germany a project that uses such a method is being field tested.

From Deutsche Welle:

Freight trucks with electric motors connected to an overhead cable have more traction. They also have no direct emission and don’t have to carry the energy along with them.

–Bert Leerkamp, traffic engineer, Bergischen University, Wuppertal

Another, more ‘out there’ solution being proposed is the use of solar powered airships instead of the standard freight methods of rail, road, air and boat. Freight-carrying airships would travel at a height of 9,000 meters where photovoltaic solar panels are 30% more efficient than on the ground.

See this cool video animation from Al Jazeera English for more: