5 Renewable Technologies on the Rise

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At long last, we can almost say that renewable energy is here to stay. With solar energy as the main driver of this renewable revolution, over the next 25 years we will be seeing some big changes as far as how we generate electricity. According to Bloomberg, the decline in the cost of solar panels will drive an investment of $3.7 trillion into this type of energy, across both large and small scale innovations. A large portion of this investment will also be directed towards homes.

But other than solar energy, there are other ways electricity change. So what else does this bright, clean energy future have to offer us? Let’s take a look in more detail.

1. Solar energy

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently revealed a new type of battery that could store green energy for homes, businesses, and utilities: the Powerwall. This rechargeable lithium ion battery mounts can be mounted to the wall of a home or garage, and comes in both 7 and 10 kilowatt per hour versions. The battery is charged by electricity generated by solar panels or from the utility grid, and can store this energy for later use – say, at night, or during a power outage. The battery is expected to be an affordable and efficient method of storing energy.

Tesla Motors has been trying to expand their efforts in green energy for a while, with the aim to create pollution-free energy and transform the world’s energy infrastructure. Back in February 2015, the company announced a partnership with SolarCity to use rooftop solar panels equipped with Tesla’s batteries, which would then store the energy inside the house.

  • Roof revolution

Solar technology is becoming more accessible and less costly every day. New s technologies for solar panels include a coating – made of the smallest organic solar cells – called SolarWindow, and a solar panel that can be sprayed onto various surfaces. These technologies are expected to become widespread, particularly in developing countries.

This rooftop solar revolution is predicted to take off, with estimates that rooftop solar panels will be cheaper than grid electricity in every major economy by 2040. It’s also expected that about 13% of the world’s energy will be produced by solar systems.

  • Car roofs

It’s not just the roofs of buildings that will be part of the solar revolution, however, but also roofs of cars. Ford has already developed a car model that runs primarily on solar power generated from roof panels. Other projects include the C-MAX Solar Energi Concept, a concentrator that acts like a magnifying glass to produce energy. This technology is marketed towards those who want a sustainably powered car but don’t have access to an electric charging station.

  • Apple devices

Apple is already in the midst of designing a new MacBook lid made of a type of smart glass that allows the screen opacity to be altered so as to allow light through. There are even rumours of a sapphire-glass solar charging screen for their smartphones.

2. Sugar powered batteries

Led by Percival Zhang, a Virginia Tech research team has created a sugar powered battery that has ten times the energy capabilities of a lithium-ion battery. They’ve achieved this by demonstrating the complex oxidation of the biobattery’s sugar.

The battery is about the same size of a AA battery and should be available commercially in about three years time. By then, the team hopes it will be able to power everything from clocks to small car batteries.

3. Heartbeat power

A team at the University of Illinois have created a patch that generates electricity from the body’s own motion. In an attempt to recharge medical implants – such as pacemakers or defibrillators – the patch is a metal nanoribbon that sits inside a flexible type of plastic. So far, the device has only been tested on livestock, generating up to 8 volts of electricity.

4. Movement power

Electricity can also be generated through physical movement alone! Riverdale School in New York City has installed tiles that convert kinetic energy (particular from footsteps) into electricity through a mechanical system. The tiles are connected to a LED board that displays the amount of energy that is being generated and connects to a phone-charging station that utilises the energy created. The system is ideal for schools, train stations, and other high traffic areas due to the large and constant volume of people walking by.

5. Micro wind turbines

A team at the University of Texas Arlington have developed a micro-windmill that can power cell phones and other utilities. The micro turbines are only 1.8 millimetres wide, and if hundreds of them are placed on a cell phone case, they can power your phone with just a little bit of wind. You could even power your phone just by waving it in the air!

Micro wind turbines could be a massive breakthrough, not only for phones, but for home energy too. Before hitting the market, however, the research team will need to design a case that both protects the windmills and optimises airflow to them.