One of the biggest obstacles we face in making the transition to clean energy sources is storage. Harnessing the power of renewable energy sources is one thing, but it’s quite another to store that energy away for long periods. Of course, resolving this issue is necessary if we are to completely switch to the renewable grid; until such a point is reached, non-renewable energy sources will continue to be used to fill the gaps in the energy supply grid.
Fortunately, researchers around the world are hard at work to make renewable energy and battery storage a reality. Renewable energy engineers are behind many of the vital energy storage progress that has already been made and promise to play an important role in the industry’s future. Working across sectors like electrical, chemical, industrial, and electrical, these engineers are a crucial part of efforts to expand renewable energy production beyond its current global 20% share.
In 2020, a joint study published by the European Patent Office and the International Energy Agency revealed that “batteries account for nearly 90% of all patenting activity in the area of electricity storage, and that the rise in innovation is chiefly driven by advances in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in consumer electronic devices and electric cars.”
Here, we’ll explore some of the latest innovations in renewable energies and battery storage. Who knows? Perhaps some of these solutions will be implemented on a wide scale sometime in the near future.
Harnessing the Power of the Sun
Some of the most-used sources of renewable energy include solar, wind, and hydropower. Most people are familiar with home solar panel systems, wind farms, and the like, but oftentimes energy captured from these renewable sources ends up wasted. During peak production hours, demand may not be able to keep up and vice-versa.
Off-grid communities are leading the fight against renewable energy waste out of necessity. From Hawaii to Martinique, battery projects have managed to store enough energy to smooth over any grid hiccups, powering community needs using 100% renewable energy. If progress continues at the current rate, “energy storage deployment in emerging markets is expected to increase by over 40% each year until 2025.”
To stay ahead of the curve, companies like Tesla, in part through mergers with existing solar companies, are attempting to innovate solar panels and batteries to permit greater capture and storage of power. Could solar power battery storage be an infinite resource? As start-up and operational costs decrease, it would appear so. Initial trials on the island of Ta’u in the Samoan islands are promising, with solar-powered microgrids saving the island thousands of dollars that would otherwise have been spent on importing diesel fuel.
For Rainy Days
One of the principal design flaws of initial solar panels was their focus on the sun. As we well know, not all areas of the world experience high volumes of sunny days. Hybrid solar panels are beginning to enter the market as a game-changer, allowing panels to capture reduced sunlight on overcast days and capture the force of falling rain, bridging the gap in the power grid.
By using solar cells to capture energy from rain, solar panels become increasingly useful in communities worldwide, allowing homes and businesses to harness the power of the sun, rain, or shine.
The majority of vehicles on the road today run on gasoline, as they have since the early 1900s. However, “transport accounts for 26% of global carbon dioxide emissions,” making smart transport a field in which there is room for substantial gains.
Hybrid and electric models are dropping in price and rising in popularity but remain out of reach for many civilians, whether because of price or practicality. A limited network of charging stations and infrastructure makes electric vehicles ideal for in-town trips, but more investment in battery cells for electric vehicles is necessary to bring the technology within reach of the average person.
Across the battery production supply chain, developments are allowing for cleaner, safer transportation. The transport of the future could look very different than it does today, supported by delivery drones and autonomous car-sharing services. Perhaps even Elon Musk’s Hyperloop dream will come true, whisking people and freight from place to place at speeds of up to 750 miles per hour. A precursor to most of these future innovations, however, is efficient and effective battery storage.
The Future of Energy-Efficient Solutions
From instituting educational programs to bolstering novel research, Germany is one nation at the forefront of renewable energy innovations. Researchers at the University of Freiburg are working on a pacemaker powered by heat in the blood, while the university itself is proud to host a doctoral program in power management.
Forward-thinking, highly skilled professionals are key fighters in the path toward making renewable energy the global standard. To meet global sustainability goals, it’s also clear that battery storage solutions will play a significant role in the worldwide transition to clean energy sources.
Leaders like Germany are eager to share their energy efficiency success stories as a form of encouragement to those following in their footsteps. Borrowing the best of Germany’s methodologies and the innovations employed by small-scale programs worldwide, private enterprise and public research are on a journey toward positive environmental change.
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