4 Emerging Innovative Technologies Enabling Energy Efficiency
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- Oct 3, 2019 9:30 pm GMTOct 3, 2019 1:41 pm GMT
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This item is part of the Special Issue - 2019-10 - Energy Efficiency, click here for more
Simply put, energy efficiency refers to the efficient use of energy sources with the aim of reducing their consumption. This can be done by adopting various technologies or processes that help curb energy loss.
Lowering energy use comes with several benefits. Among these are reduced energy costs and financial savings. It also serves as a solution to the omnipresent problem of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
It's no secret that energy consumption is set to rise greatly in the coming decades. People are going to use more of it to enjoy better standards of living. This is putting increasing pressure on the energy industry and has necessitated energy innovation.
Why Energy Innovation?
Energy is at the heart of a modern lifestyle and is needed everywhere. Whether it is using photocell switches or solar panels, every effort counts towards efficient energy usage. With growing worldwide demand, developing and deploying technologies that enable energy efficiency and low (or zero) carbon emissions is the need of the hour.
Energy innovation in areas such as energy storage, smart grids, and electricity technologies will affect all industrial sectors. Energy storage will make accessing and using wind and solar power more feasible. Smart grids will help in regulating the flow of electricity. Developments in power generation will enhance efficiency to maximize the use of renewable energy sources.
Mentioned ahead are a few technologies we can look forward to with an endeavor to save energy and meet the ever-growing demand for it.
1) Efficient Energy Stowing
Sometimes, the demand for power can be higher than the supply. However, this can be reversed and/or balanced if a sufficient amount of energy is stored in the right manner. This may actually be the answer to all the recurrent problems of renewable energy. At the same time, it is also crucial to have access to energy storage.
By combining an energy storage system with a renewable energy source, there can be an unhindered supply of power even when the weather is not conducive to energy production.
One of the most common means of storing energy is the battery. However, batteries can prove to be expensive, which is why it is necessary to enhance other more affordable energy storage technologies. Fuel cells, Lithium-air batteries, Hydrogen energy storage, and thermal storage are making their way into our world.
The Caribbean island of Barbados is one of the world's top users of electric vehicles. In their new battery re-use lab, Megapower repurposes old electric vehicle batteries for a number of applications and storage for renewable energy. This is being done to expand the lifespan of these batteries.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. It is expected that efficient energy storage will be a key component that will be included in upcoming technologies. This will have implications in that these solutions will become economical and affordable, thereby providing greater benefits than current energy sources.
2) Smart Microgrids
We live in the age of microgrids. These are a localized group of electricity sources and loads, which usually operate when they are connected to a wide area synchronous grid (or macrogrid), but can even function in "island mode," i.e. autonomously. Microgrids not only save energy, but they also provide energy independence, efficiency, and security during emergencies.
When microgrid controllers are combined with Machine Learning capabilities, one can enable operation movements while experiencing continuous adaptation.
Technology provider Sustainable Power Systems is integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into its microgrid controller via BluWave-ai, a company keen to align AI capabilities with distributed, renewable energy. This has been done with the intent to create an advanced microgrid controller that continuously learns and optimizes distributed renewable energy, battery-based energy storage, and other microgrid system components.
3) Energy-Saving Heating
The UK's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is getting behind a new initiative towards heat recovery. Several programs enable the recovery and distribution of heat through various networks. However, they are expensive and require a long-term commitment. But's there's another way.
Since 2018, the Industrial Heat Recovery Support Programme has been funding projects that use waste heat from business processes. According to Georgina Penfold, Director at ICON. "We know of a steel mill in South Yorkshire and a food processor in Northampton that is currently working on designs to take advantage of this support."
More means of efficient electric heating are expected to be developed over the next decade. This will be done with the help of green grids rather than pollution-causing fuel such as LPG or heating oil.
4) Blockchain and IoT
Blockchain works like a distributed ledger that records all transactions made over a peer-to-peer network. This technology is incorruptible and has found uses in several industries, and the energy sector is one of them.
Using blockchain in the energy system can remove the role of middlemen for electricity suppliers. This will not only solve the issues of inefficient and unequal energy distribution but also empower the end consumer to trade energy directly.
Using blockchain with the Internet of Things (IoT) can have a significant impact on energy systems. Brooklyn Microgrid is helping a virtual web of buildings whose owners can buy and sell electricity to each other using blockchain technology to carry out their transactions. Here, the blockchain attaches a unique tag to each communication so that it becomes impossible to pass off a completed sale as a future sale, or claim that power really generated by a coal plant comes from a solar array.
Technology makes it possible to expend energy in a sustainable manner while making human lives easier. With a growing emphasis on energy efficiency, the future promises more innovations as far as supportive technology is concerned. The above innovative technological marvels provide a good look at what to expect going forward.