Wired News points to some research on trains and fuel cells. The idea would be to get subways onto fuel cells - and off the grid. There's a basic problem with this, to my mind - cost/benefits. How often do the subways lose power? Not terribly often. What would be the cost of putting in a fuel cell based infrastructure? Pretty high, I'd guess. The question is, how would you prioritize that over other needs and problems - when the problem fixed by fuel cells is rare?
This is one of the sorts of problems that - to my mind - IT shops understand very badly. Over the last 7 years or so, there have been tons and tons of projects launched to replace the entire infrstructure of a business - from whatever it was to J2EE (and possibly .NET now). It's as if no one ever looked at the opportunity cost of that - how many other things could have been done - and probably a lot more quickly and cheaply - by simply adapting what they had instead? How many expensive consultants would never have been hired (only to be fired later when things went badly)?
Web Services has the potential to make such mistakes obsolete - instead of rewriting (with a high risk of failure) - simply add web services api's to what you have. It's a virtual certainty that such API's can be added to your existting applications, and the liklihood of success is far, far higher than in a full rewrite scenario. To my mind, the shops that pay attention to opportunity costs are helping their businesses. The ones that don't are creating a business drag