Technological advances in renewable energy

Intro

Not only is the renewable energy industry expanding, but also seeing a lot of change within itself and the difference a few years can make in the ongoing transition is remarkable. Less than a decade ago, uncertainty about high generation costs still overshadowed the rise of solar and wind power. For those who were paying attention, it was inevitable that technological improvements, economies of scale, increased competition in supply chains and the right political conditions had begun a continuous process, driving down the cost from renewables.

As of today, the competitiveness of renewable energy alternatives has become increasingly clear to everyone.

As of today, the competitiveness of renewable energy alternatives has become increasingly clear to everyone. Yet hard work continues as governments, industry, and investors plan for the next phase of the energy transition. This involves proactive discussions to create new policies, regulations, market structures, and industrial strategies, in particular by supporting the stable integration of the highest levels of renewable electricity generation. We also need strategies to reduce end-use CO2 emissions from transport and industry which brings the role of electricity storage to the center of the stage. As of today, the competitiveness of renewable energy alternatives has become increasingly clear to everyone.

Energy Storage

Advanced energy storage systems provide a wide array of technological approaches to managing our power supply in order to create a more resilient energy infrastructure and bring cost savings to utilities and consumers. Important is that it brings the flexibility that future electricity systems need to accommodate the fluctuating availability of solar and wind energy. For the longer-term, as countries strive to significantly reduce emissions from power generation, the importance of storage will only increase.

Battery storage technology is multifaceted – a complex technology. Its economics can be shaped by such things as customer type, location, grid needs, regulations, rate structure, and nature of the application. It is also uniquely flexible in its ability to stack value streams and change its dispatch to serve different needs over the course of a year or even an hour. These value streams are growing both in value and in market scale and will serve a remarkable role in the future.

Although lithium-ion batteries have received the most attention so far, other types are becoming more and more cost-effective. Battery storage can be deployed both on the grid and at an individual consumer’s home or business and is poised to play a decisive role in the transition to a sustainable energy future. It is estimated to grow at least seventeen times by 2030. Huge investments have already been made, as in September 2018, a major announcement was made by the World Bank Group (WBG) who committed $1 billion for a new global program to accelerate investments in battery storage for energy systems in developing and middle-income countries. This investment is intended to increase developing countries’ use of wind and solar power, and improve grid reliability, stability, and power quality while reducing carbon emissions.

Digitalization

Digitalization enables the integration of renewable energy. Artificial intelligence and analytics are helping facility owners and operators optimize their renewable energy output. Nascent Blockchain technology is helping to get renewables on the grid and offers a way for untrusted parties the change to reach a common digital history. This is so digital assets and transactions cannot be easily faked or duplicated despite not having a trusted intermediary. Simply put, the blockchain technology enables excess output from wind and solar to be discharged as needed into a networked pool of home battery storage systems in real time.

Solar Technology

There are two main types of solar technology: photovoltaics (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP). Solar PV technology captures sunlight to generate electric power, and CSP harnesses the heat of the sun and uses it to produce thermal energy that powers heaters or turbines. These two forms of solar energy enable a wide range of technical innovation.

Approximate regional shares estimated from IEA

Advances in solar panel efficiency – there has been an ongoing race in the solar industry in terms of solar cell efficiency which has been leading to the research of alternative solar cell types and there have been some major breakthroughs in the past two years, especially with Perovskite solar cells (silicon cells are mostly used today). There is also a new tech concept revealed that captures and utilizes the waste heat that is usually emitted by solar panels. While this typically released and non-harnessed thermal energy is a setback and an opportunity for improvement in solar technology, this innovation could help reduce solar costs even more, which could double the efficiency of solar cells.

Solar skin design – a concept of aesthetic enhancement that allows solar panels to have a customized look that makes it possible for solar panels to match the appearance of a roof without interfering with panel efficiency or production.

Solar powered roads – these roadways have the ability to generate clean energy through modular solar panels, and they also include LED bulbs that can light roads at night and have a thermal heating capacity that can melt snow during winter weather. The panels are also used in bike lanes and the most famous one is located in Krommenie, Netherlands.

Wearable solar – this new textile concept makes it possible tiny solar panels can now be stitched into the fabric of clothing, suitable for home products like window curtains etcetera.

Solar tracking mounts – trackers allow solar panels to maximize electricity production by following the sun as it moves across the sky. PV tracking systems tilt and shift the angle of a solar array as the day goes by to best match the sun’s position.

Solar water purifiers – the new product can access visible light and only requires a few minutes to produce reliable drinking water while prior purifier designs needed to harness UV rays and required hours of sun exposure to fully purify water. This means remarkable improvements in efficiency compared to past technology.

Solar thermal fuel (STF) – is a material that is capable of absorbing photons (light) and storing their energy as a charge and then releasing it when prompted. This is an alternative storage solution for solar. We have seen this technology in recent years implemented for windows and other surfaces that are exposed to sunlight.

Conclusion

It is certain that energy largely determines the level of any country’s future economic and social development. To ensure sufficient economic and social growth, it is vital that all available energy sources are used as efficiently and economically as possible for electricity generation together with supporting the innovation and continuous technological development in the field in order to cut the CO2 emissions to a minimum.

Blockchain technology has arrived at the right moment to support the transformation of the energy sector as renewable energy is being integrated into electricity grids. For those considering solar panel systems, in addition to the blockchain, there is a long list of solar panel technology innovations in recent years which are remarkable – efficiency refinements, storage improvements, and hardware enhances for the efficiency of solar panels and reduced system costs. Now is the time to ensure a sustainable green future for the planet.


Picture thanks to:

https://www.supplychain247.com/article/strengthening_sales_and_operations_planning_analysis

https://ridedriveelectric.com/futuristic-batteries/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Growth_of_photovoltaics

http://www.iparu.com/dual-axis-tracker-pst-2alhttps://ridedriveelectric.com/futuristic-batteries/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Growth_of_photovoltaics

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