Maybe great minds don't think alike after all. At least, that is, not in the world of engineering.
A recent poll of EE Times Europe readers, which represents a good sample of electronics design engineers, canvassed what they thought would offer the best energy-saving return on R&D.
The favoured option (24 percent of respondents' votes) was to keep working on improving on photovoltaic and solar cell efficiency. But it was a close run contest. The development of enhanced sensor and control networks to reduce energy consumption in major plants and infrastructure earned 21 percent of the votes cast.
Developing energy harvesting technologies scored 13 percent and hints that this trend is quickly proving more attractive with design engineers. Improving the efficiency of lighting was also a notable new contender.
What was interesting was that taking steps to lower the power consumption of ICs limped in last place with only nine percent of vote.
This displays an interesting mindset from the electronics design engineers. When it comes to energy saving the last thing they seem consider is to examine ways to reduce power consumption in the first place.
Compare that attitude with a report released recently by the UK's Institution of Mechanical Engineers which has assessed a range of potential geo-engineering options available under its 'Cooling the Planet' programme. The three most promising options proposed by this report included:
1. Artificial trees
Research is being undertaken into building machines which, like trees, can remove CO2 from the atmosphere. This occurs when air passes through the device (the tree) and CO2 sticks to a sorbent material (the leaves). The CO2 is then removed and buried underground in the same way as conventional carbon capture and storage (CCS).
2. Algae-coated buildings
Algae naturally absorbs CO2 through photosynthesis. Strips of algae can be fitted to the outside of buildings and then periodically harvested from the surfaces and used as biofuel.
3. Reflective buildings
Reducing the amount of solar radiation absorbed by the earth's climate has the potential to cool the planet. This can simply be achieved by making surfaces more reflective and thus lowering the heating effect the sun's rays have on us.
All the proposed solutions are innovative concepts but still require a fair degree of development to become effective answers to a rapidly increasing problem.
Professor John Shepherd, a researcher from the University of Southampton, chaired the Royal Society's recent geo-engineering study which put forward other solutions to address the Global Warming challenge.
Prof Shepherd said: "It is an unpalatable truth that unless we can succeed in greatly reducing CO2 emissions, we are headed for a very uncomfortable and challenging climate future.
"Geo-engineering and its consequences are the price we may have to pay for failure to act on climate change."
Reading the Institution of Mechanical Engineers' report it is made clear that the mechanical engineers seem to recognize that reducing power consumption is the place to start to solve these environmental problems. They seem to believe that their proposed innovative geo-engineering solutions are secondary in the scheme of things and will only buy the planet some time but the primary goal is to cut power consumption.
Maybe our educators should be encouraging the new generation of electronics engineers in the concepts of power avoidance before they tackle those of power management.