The future of clean energy is bright. 2016 was a record setting year, but experts predict it is just the beginning. Professionals around the world are identifying ways to keep progress moving. International trade, developing new industry standards for sustainability and innovation are critical to creating a planet powered by renewables. In the next few years, expect the introduction of several game changing inventions!
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The last few years have seen the sustainability movement increase in momentum. To keep moving forward in 2017, President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development has a few suggestions. Businesses must be advocates for the sustainability movement, learn to get high ranking employees involved and create holistic systems that dress issues across the board.
“What business needs now are sector-based roadmaps to bring companies together across sectors, and rally for change in a much bigger way.”
Politico– How Mexican Wind Lights San Diego Homes
California is widely known as one of the most dedicated states to clean energy. However, unbeknownst to many, a large percentage of the state’s wind energy is produced across the border, in Mexico. In fact, $20.2 billion worth of energy was transferred between Mexico and California last year. The trade arrangement illustrates the potential for energy exchange in areas where producing clean power is difficult.
“It’s ideal wind power country, but not a single kilowatt of the electricity produced here stays in Mexico. Instead, San Diego’s Sempra Energy, through its Mexican subsidiary, IEnova, ships 100 percent of its electricity back into the United States.”
The continent of Africa is rife with possibility for green energy development. However, due to lack of investment, most of this potential is untapped. Accessing this power could be a major step forward for global sustainability and the continent itself. Africa could help the global community reach its clean energy goals, while providing cost effective energy for millions without access.
“Tapping into the vast renewable energy resources across Africa is not only important in light of the international promises made to help mitigate global warming, but could have insurmountable benefits for the population, millions of whom are without any access to electricity, let alone reliable access.”
Popular Mechanics– 9 Weird Ways We Can Harness the Wind’s Energy
The widening establishment of clean energy solutions has led to a wealth of innovations. Experts predict that new and unusual ways of harnessing the power of the wind will be developed in the coming years. One of these creative solutions is produced by member company Altaeros Energies. Propped by helium, their large blimps are able to move up and down to find the strongest winds.
“If you picture a typical wind turbine, it’ll probably look like a giant, triple-bladed fan. Called a horizontal-axis wind turbine, it is by far the most common way to harness energy from the wind, but at its core, this tech is hundreds of years old. Is it really the most efficient way to generate wind energy?”
A new aesthetically pleasing wind power innovation is being developed: turbines disguised as trees. Similar to camouflaged phone towers, the solution generates power while hiding in plain sight. Power is generated by “leaves” which flop in the wind. The development could create a new wave of smaller, more practical wind turbines.
“The concept won’t replace wind turbines, but the technology could spawn a niche market for small and visually unobtrusive machines that turn wind into electricity.”
Inspired by the unique movement of insect’s wings, researchers have found a way to make wind power at least 35% more efficient. Often, wind turbines turn too quickly, blocking wind flow like a wall. This new system uses intermediate rates of rotation to ensure less power is wasted.
“Because they’re flexible, the wings of bees and dragonflies are able to direct the aerodynamic load in the direction of their flight, increasing the power. And because they naturally bend in the wind, they can minimize drag to avoid damage.”
Using new materials, scientists believe they are close to creating a way to print solar panels. Using perovskite solar cells, a cheaper material, developers are able to significantly limit costs. If this technology comes to fruition, it could make creating and purchasing solar much easier.
“Currently most commercial solar cells are made from thin slices of crystalline silicon, which must be processed to a very high purity. The energy-intensive process requires temperatures higher than 1,000 degrees Celsius and large amounts of hazardous solvents. However, perovskite solar cells depend on a layer of tiny crystals—each about 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair—made of low-cost, light-sensitive materials.”
Rutger’s Richard Riman has developed a way to produce concretes and metals in a much greener way. By producing materials in water with low temperatures, he is able to create products without using the massive amount of energy required to form materials at high temperatures. Riman believes this innovation could revolutionize the manufacturing industry by producing in a cheaper and more sustainable manor.
“I looked at how shellfish make ceramics at low-temperature, like carbonate crystals, and then looked at what people can do with water to make landing strips in Alaska and I said we should be able to do this with ceramics, but use a low-temperature chemical process that involves water.“