Weekly Report – Week 9

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Hello again! Another week has passed since the last report. Let’s take a look at what has happened.

The 4th annual Energy Storage Summit was held at London’s Victoria Plaza. The event has matured over the years and topics previously off-limits due to commercial sensitivity or just a lack of experience from the field were explored in depth. The overall consensus is that governments still have a long way to go before regulatory issues are fixed. The full article covering the five main things from the summit can be found here.

IKEA has been offering solar panels and complete solutions for a while now. This is a smart play by the Swedish company and gives an easy entry to the market for a lot of new customers. With that said, even if you have an IKEA close by, most likely there will not be any panels available yet. Only a select few countries offer the solutions and even though IKEA is Swedish, they chose to test the markets in the UK first because of the regulatory issues. IKEA has also been busy installing solar panels on their own roofs and is on its way to become energy neutral by 2020. Below is an article about SolarVille: a research project by IKEA’s Copenhagen based design laboratory SPACE10. It is a miniature wooden village and a working prototype built on a 1:50 scale. Solar panels, micro-grids and blockchain technology allow households to produce, buy and sell energy. Although the concept is ambitious, the design team says that SolarVille is a fully realizable concept for the future.

PV Efficiency

29% efficiency is the new standard according to Insolight. A patented optical system concentrates light onto an array of tiny space-grade multi-junction photovoltaic cells. It has taken them 2 years to get from a lab prototype to a full-size solar panel. According to the article, in the last 15 years the average efficiency has increased only 3,5%. These new panels follow the sun’s movement, can be assembled on top of standard PV panels and can reduce solar electricity costs by up to 30% according to Coulot. Insolight is now in discussions with several solar manufacturers to license its technology and the first Insolight products are expected to hit the market by 2022 (source).

The next generation is off to a good start at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Michigan. Students will be installing solar panels during Spring Break in Long Beach. “Solar Spring Break” is a program by GRID Alternatives in partnership with Wells Fargo. The non-profit organization aims to build the next generation of the solar workforce in communities that lack access to renewable energy (source). By the way, while learning about installing solar panels, students are utilizing free energy at campuses and using it to mine various cryptocurrencies (source).

France. A country often in the news, but not so often related to blockchain technology news. Times are changing and now even France is looking at emerging tech and definitely doesn’t want to be left behind. According to the country’s minister of finance, Bruno Le Maire, the adoption of blockchain will provide new opportunities for the startups whereby the entrepreneurs will be able to raise funds through initial coin offerings (ICOs). The more specific application of the blockchain that France is witnessing is in the energy sector. Click on the link above for the full story. And while talking about the EU, here is an article about five countries calling for 100% renewable energy by 2050.

New Possibilities

Energy is being produced one way or the other 24/7 but the problem is still the storage. I have been personally playing with random ideas for a while and it’s nice to see that I’m not the only one, and someone is actually taking it a step further and actually realizing said ideas! Energy Vault is a Swiss start-up company developing a new kind of storage method. The popular ones today are batteries and pumped-storage hydro. This new method involves a six-arm crane and 5000 concrete blocks. Weighing 35t in total, the crane will lift the blocks up and down a 33-storey building, which will store gravitational potential energy when they are raised, and release it as they are lowered. According to the calculations this system will beat the rivals with lower building and material costs, lower levelised storage cost of electricity and short ramp rates. Let’s see if the “concrete windmills” manage to take their share of the market (source).

As usual, we will round up the weekly report with some extra goodies here at the bottom. Canada joins IRENA and thus becoming the 160th member of the global intergovernmental organization (source), KoBolt Metals is on a quest to find new sources of cobalt (a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries) and has received high-profile backing from Breakthrough Energy Ventures innovation fund spearheaded by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates (source) and the upcoming ANON Blockchain Summit in Vienna attracts billion dollar businesses (source).

Have a nice week and see you again soon!

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