|By Marco The Editor|
November 27, 2018
Most projections of the future today point towards renewable energy as our best bet for sustainable power supply as we continue to demand more and more of it. There are innovations, refinements, and new concepts being developed everyday by some of the best scientific minds out there, and the results are beginning to be felt.
Renewable Energy Technologies that just might Change the World
A sector that used to be strictly reserved for those with environmental concerns as their first priority is being looked at with new interest by public utility companies, investors, and industrialists as a new frontier offering viable growth and profit potential. Renewable energy investments are beginning to be looked upon as potential money-makers and cost savers, not least because of the recent spate of innovations in the renewable energy sector.
Let's take a look at what all the fuss is about as we shine the spotlight on a few of the innovations promising to change the game.
Sounds crazy? Awesome is what you mean. When it comes to renewable energy solutions, one of the missing links that has been a barrier to truly game-changing power dynamics is the lack of a clean fuel with the capability of completely replacing transportation and combustion fuels such as gasoline and jet fuel. The solution might have been present in our yards the entire time. A potential scenario pictures us setting up our own photosynthetic processes, the means by which plant leaves naturally convert carbon dioxide, sunlight, and water into the fuel the plant requires – a bionic leaf, if you like. Harvard scientists have pushed us closer to this reality with their recent development of a bionic leaf’ that has the capacity to make use of 10% of the energy found in sunlight. Take note that plants only make use of about only 1% of this energy. Cobalt-phosphorous alloy catalysts are utilized to split the hydrogen and oxygen atoms in water, and then bacteria specifically engineered for the purpose are put to work converting the carbon dioxide into fuel. Simple, right?
We've always been fascinated by the power and majesty of the ocean and its seemingly impossible-to-tame waves. That's why the possibility of harnessing this energy for our own use seems like such an intriguing idea, and a promising renewable energy investment avenue. Tidal turbines work on the same basic principles as wind turbines, using rotary engines in the water to power their movement. There's been a bit of success with this innovative technology, but it faces quite a bit of opposition from fishermen. The future of tidal turbines looks bright, at any rate.
Fuel Cell Technology
Storing power efficiently has been a stumbling block along humanity's path to freedom from fossil fuels. Manufacturers and research scientists have been trying to crack the fuel cell technology nut for decades, as this would allow our vehicles to run entirely on hydrogen and oxygen, with water vapor and heat being the only emissions. It would be a massive boost to our efforts to reduce air pollution on our roads.
The photovoltaic cells used in current solar panels have limitations to their efficiency that have made their large-scale deployment financially unfeasible in many instances. Scientists over at MIT have figured out a possible method of overcoming this limitation. By including a layer of nanophotonic crystals and nanotubes that work together to create a funnel-like structure, they will have the sunlight focused into a narrower, more energy-dense beam that can be more efficiently absorbed by the solar unit. Current solar cell technology is capped at around 30% efficiency, but should this method be perfected in future, it might see levels of 80% and above. It would be a revolution, to put it mildly. Renewable energy investment participants would regret missing out on this particular ship should it set sail.
Space-Based Solar Energy
The field of renewable energy technology very often broaches into the realm of science-fiction, and that’s a good thing as far as we're concerned. Scientists have been looking for ways to adapt wireless energy transfer technology in order to have the capacity to transfer the harvested energy back to earth wirelessly. The bigger issue here, however, is how to transfer the solar panels into space, which would be extremely costly as things currently stand. Perhaps Elon Musk and his team over at SpaceX might figure out something in the future? Renewable energy investment hopefuls certainly have their fingers crossed.
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