Today there is a great deal of interest in the use of renewable energy rather than conventional energy. Conventional energy is wasteful and generates massive amounts of pollution that are harmful to the environment and the climate of the earth. Renewable energy includes solar energy, geothermal energy, hydroelectric energy and wind energy. Several strides have been made in recent years when it comes to renewable energy. More investment also has been made in renewable energy and there has been a drop-in price in some technologies such as solar power.
Solar Fuel Devices
Certain research labs have made advances in the development of more durable and efficient solar fuel devices. MIT research scientists, for example, have developed a better more efficient solar thermophotovoltaic device which incorporates nanotechnology such that the solar device can absorb more sunlight than the standard device can. The researchers hope that further research will lead to the development of a solar panel that will have greater than 30% efficiency (the current standard). The idea is that a solar panel with an efficiency of greater than 80% would still be able to operate for a long time after the sun has disappeared.
Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, at Stanford and at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have also been working on solar power devices. They have been researching the Perovskite solar cells which absorb a lot of light energy but have limited durability.
Carbon Emission Work
Researchers have been looking to find ways to remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide is a waste product produced during the combustion reactions of industry. Scientists working at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have discovered a way to convert carbon dioxide into ethanol using nanotechnology and electrochemical reactions. There is however, much skepticism and debate over whether this is a viable option in the long term.
In the last few years, there has been much interest and effort made in converting landfill waste into an energy source. This is not limited to America and Europe as China has also shown increased interest in using waste for energy production.
Technological improvements and advances have been made in the area of wind turbines. Wind turbine blades have become larger with the result of a greater capacity being attained. One of the greatest advancements in terms of power has been battery development. Energy that can’t be stored or used right away is of course lost, which is very wasteful. Tesla is the company that has been at the forefront of combining batteries with wind power. Another problem with wind power is that the turbines can hurt flying birds. There has been renewed interest in designing systems that reduce bird collisions with wind turbines.
Renewable energy still has problems such as cost of installation. This cost has limited the use of renewable energy. As research and technology increases, more affordable solutions can be find and it is hoped that the cost of the technology will decrease making it an even more viable and attractive option for generating electricity in the future.