Over the next few decades, the world’s energy landscape as we know it will change dramatically. One decisive change is the ever-growing demand for power which brings about the need for new and better energy innovations.
Wherever there is an increase in access to reliable and affordable energy, people want to enjoy a higher standard of living. While that is certainly a good thing, at the same time, many of the world’s population lack access to even the most basic energy services.
If that’s not bad enough, climate change still remains a serious concern even though it’s still a highly debated topic. Either way, the growing need has resulted in a demand for realising smart energy innovations that will not only help us co-exist sustainably but also contribute positively to the global climate.
Energy Innovations That Could Change The World
One thing is certain, the demand for energy will never decrease. Fact is, it will only grow as the global population does. Industry leaders, manufacturers and traditional leaders in energy management should band together and set new standards to further enhance energy management. Here are some energy innovations that really stand out and worth keeping an eye on.
1. Advanced Energy Storage Facilities
Balancing power supply and demand may be challenging but it’s the only answer to the intermittent nature of renewable energy. It all comes down combining energy storage systems with a renewable source. This can provide a smooth and steady supply of power even during unfavourable weather conditions.
While batteries are still good for storing energy, they are relatively expensive. Considering that, expect vast improvement in other energy storage technologies that will make it a viable and affordable. Rumour has it that energy storage will be a core component of new emerging technologies which is great news. All types of energy storage solutions including domestic energy and utility-scale will be offered at a better premium. They will ultimately exceed the benefits of conventional energy sources.
There is already a significant energy storage project underway in the Caribbean on the island of Barbados. They’ve re-purposed old electric car batteries to provide grid energy storage with the purpose of extending their normal lifespan. As battery technology improves, as Tesla is doing right now, people can store more energy, more sustainably.
2. Artificial Intelligence And Microgrids
Microgrids are the local energy grids that can operate independently or by staying connected to a larger conventional grid. Not only are they energy savers but these microgrids also offer energy independence, efficiency, and protection in emergency situations.
Where does AI fit into the whole process? Well, artificial intelligence has powerful machine learning potential which can combine with microgrid controllers. This can promote vast operational improvements while experiencing continuous adaptation.
AI in microgrids is already being used and some companies have taken a step further. For instance, the WorleyParsons Group and XENDEE, a San Diego tech company, have developed an advanced toolkit for microgrid design. It offers complete turnkey solutions taking almost 90% less time while being much more cost effective as other traditional methods.
3. Forging Together Blockchain and IoT
In a nutshell, blockchain is a distributed, digital and public ledger that records transactions across several computer systems through a peer-to-peer network. The best part about blockchain technology is that it cannot be corrupted. Here is a more detailed overview of the history of blockchain and how the technology works.
Contrary to what some may think, blockchain is not limited to only cryptocurrency. Today, many sectors use this technology and the energy market is catching on fast. Brooklyn Microgrid is just one example of companies implementing these sort of technologies. With the correct applications, it will become an even bigger success as more companies will start using it on a wider scale.
Using blockchain in the energy sector can essentially eliminate the need for a middleman supplying electricity. This is revolutionary as it not only solves the issues of inefficient energy distribution but it also empowers end-users to trade energy directly. Combining blockchain with everyday IoT devices used for sending and receiving information can ultimately have a significant impact on energy systems across the world.
4. Lower Costs Associated With Grid Parity
For those who don’t know, Grid Parity occurs when the cost of renewable energy sources is same or less than the tariff price from the Grid (cost per kilowatt/hour). At the moment, it is happening all over the world with solar energy and wind power.
The advancements in technology have resulted in renewable energy equipment and maintenance costing less, there is massive growth potential. Thanks to smart energy innovations like blockchain and AI, renewable energy sources are becoming more efficient and self-optimised.
A few years ago we could not integrate energy into the grid but times have changed. These technologies are contributing significantly to a strengthened grid with better reliability and more flexibility. Considering that solar and wind energy are already super-efficient and cost-effective, it’s only a matter of time before we see more renewable energy sources.
5. Changing From Fossil Fuels To Renewable Energy
With a global aim of limiting the rise of global temperatures, more countries are setting emissions targets as part of climate action plans. Looking at a recent survey from CDP, some 100 cities across the world confirm that 70% of their energy comes from renewable sources. Even corporate sectors and municipalities welcome the transition to 100% renewable energy systems but it’s easier said than done for many countries.
Let’s face it, global warming and moving away from fossil fuels will always be a controversial topic. Whether you believe that climate change is real or not, the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is our likely future.
Is A Global Energy Transformation Possible?
While there has been some great leaps in technology and energy innovations, a total transformation may not be possible for some time. Developed countries like the United States and Europe have already been working on changing their consumption patterns and incorporating cleaner energy. However, it’s different in developing countries as they simply can’t afford the high premium for this kind of energy access.
Today’s clean energy technologies like wind, solar, electric vehicles, smart grids, and smart energy storage are just too expensive. To satisfy a global green energy movement, the solution is simple; make renewable energy sources more readily available to everyone. Judging from these incredible energy innovations, perhaps it is more than a pipedream.
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