What could you do with $2 trillion?
Most of us can’t really get our heads around such staggering numbers and thankfully, we don’t need to. This is one of the cash injections that governments have pledged to the renewable energy industry. They’ve added various other incentives to drive this essential program.
However, we’re not terribly interested in the dollars and percentages. We’re more focused on the fascinating world of technology that is behind the growth in renewable energy.
What have the big brains been working on, and how can we advance their ideas?
Green Energy Trends and Innovations
The murmur of climate change and the essential move to clean energy has risen to a shout. More individuals than ever have come to realize that small changes add up to massive shifts. It’s up to each one of us to embed these changes in our daily lives.
We have little control over big business and the choices made by global companies. So, we rely on government intervention and economic incentives to push this cause. This, coupled with consumer-driven support for sustainability is turning the juggernaut.
We’re seeing some incredible innovations arising.
The images of windmills dotted around farm fields have been familiar to us all for centuries. It’s hard to imagine how this elegantly simple design can be improved upon.
Nevertheless, innovations such as vortex-induced wind generators are proving an exceptional alternative. These bladeless systems harness wind energy. Then, using the phenomenon of vorticity, an oscillating cylinder generates electricity. Smaller, cheaper, and effective, this is one to watch.
However, if renewable energy sources are to become mainstream, the oversupply versus undersupply challenge needs to be addressed. To replace fossil fuels, we need to look for better energy storage systems as technology becomes available.
We’re all aware of the constant power generated by moving water, such as in rivers and lakes.
However, there exists a vast network of municipal water pipes beneath most large cities. These carry an enormous amount of untapped energy potential. In-pipe turbines installed in some U.S. cities harvest the energy from these water sources through micro-hydropower.
While this is fairly new technology and yet to be implemented on a large scale, it is proving a fascinating opportunity. The infrastructure is already in place. This places hydroelectric energy head and shoulders above others in terms of initial costs and time to market.
Hydrogen has emerged as one of the leading contenders for replacing fossil fuels. It’s expected to meet approximately 24% of global energy needs by 2050. A report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) notes hydrogen electrolyzers as a key green energy innovation.
How does it work?
Water is decomposed into oxygen and hydrogen, or low-carbon hydrogen. This is done with energy generated by renewable energy sources such as wind turbines and solar panels. Besides hydrogen, hydrogen-based fuels (ammonia and synthetic liquids and gases) are also produced. Hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels can are easily stored and transported.
These products offer the potential to help to regulate supply and demand.
Hydrogen looks to have promising applications in the transport industry. Potentially it can replace battery-powered vehicles.
It also appears to be ideal for the energy consumption requirements of long-haul transport, shipping, and aviation.
An innovative cleantech company in the UK, Bennamann, has developed a sustainable fuel. From farmyard waste. Methane, a biogas created by decomposing organic matter, is captured and converted into green fuel.
Brennaman founder, Dr. Chris Mann, a former physicist, discovered this potential fuel source. When exploring the huge amounts of energy stored in slurry lagoons he delved into possible uses. Biomethane is harmful to humans and the environment. But Mann proposed that capturing this gas before it entered the atmosphere created a renewable and versatile energy source.
And he was right.
They can now produce 4,600 kg of methane per hectare of grass. This equates to approximately 7,500 liters of petrol from an area the size of two football pitches.
Digital Energy Data Management
Not all green energy innovations come in the form of a new energy source. In fact, an unsung hero in the field of renewable energy lies in the value of energy data.
In any industry, the ability to receive, analyze, and act on information helps to steer its success. The energy industry produces vast amounts of data. Yet too little of it is in real-time which forces businesses to rely on historical trends or inaccurate forecasting. This makes effective load balancing, understanding consumption spikes, and proactive operational decisions almost impossible.
New technologies are starting to emerge that can integrate real-time, or near real-time, data from multiple sources in a cost-effective manner. The solutions combine API connectivity with a new Data-as-a-Service model which offers the ability to:
- Create dynamic tariffs for consumers
- Incentivize off-peak energy usage
- Encourage consumers to play an active role in managing their energy usage
While this technology is still in its infancy, the possible applications are massive. We eagerly look forward to watching this particular tech grow and develop.
Exciting Growth in Renewable Energy Technologies
Watching the growth in renewable energy and the efforts expended by individuals and corporate entities is heartwarming.
Renewable energy prices have become more affordable due to technological advancements. The use of clean power by various companies helps to lower both their carbon footprint and utility bills. Open minds, and the genuine desire to witness the success of sustainable energy sources, have paved the way for amazing discoveries.
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