Many resources and skills are invested in the development of more sustainable technologies. There are many initiatives in the energy sector in particular, and we have decided to take stock of upcoming innovations before the end of this year.
Let’s start with the first green energy source: the sun. Solar energy has long been recognized as a competitive renewable base energy compared to traditional energy sources. But it has its limitations, the first being that the sun doesn’t shine all the time. And even when they do, most commercial solar panels aren’t as efficient as wind turbines.
However, things are changing and some innovations show promise. This is the case with these transparent solar panels that can be stuck to windows or other surfaces like a film. Two companies are driving this type of technology: Ubiquitous Energy and Solar Windows.
Both aim to partner with other companies rather than sell directly to consumers. So these
Films are likely to be offered as an option for those looking to install new windows in their home or office.
Ubiquitous Energy’s transparent solar panels in the windows. Omnipresent Energy
Some electric vehicles are also beginning to integrate solar panels. For now everyone
solar cars (Aptera, Sono Sion and others)
light year 0) that exist still have to be plugged in to be recharged on long journeys, but depending on the model, solar radiation and the type of photovoltaic cells filled, promise up to 70 km a day from solar energy alone.
The solar car Aptera is marketed in the USA. Jesse Orrall/CNET
The promise of nuclear fusion
Scientists are still trying to reproduce the sun’s energy on Earth. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory recently succeeded in doing this for the first time
exceed the ignition threshold. This means that the nuclear fusion reactor has produced more energy than it is using. But we are still a long way from an operational technology, because this type of reactor would have to be able to generate ten times the input energy in order to become profitable, which will probably not be the case for many years to come. But with the ongoing large fusion projects like ITER, there is still a lot to do in this area.
Animation showing nuclear fusion ignition at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
The power of the waves
Other power engineering companies want to harness a land-based energy source: the tidal power of the oceans. Wave Swell Energy’s artificial vent recently underwent a year-long test off the coast of King Island, Australia. The Uniwave200 directs waves to its central chamber, where air is compressed to spin a turbine and send electricity to the grid. Wave Swell Energy is continually improving its device to make it more reliable and affordable.
The Uniwave200 harvests wave energy off King Island, Australia. Wave Swell Energy
Eco Wave Power uses submerged structures for craftingwave energy. Floats rest on the surface where the waves activate them, creating hydraulic pressure in the circuit that drives a hydromotor that activates a generator that sends electricity to the grid through an inverter.
The system is designed to automatically detect upcoming storms to elevate floats until the bad weather passes, avoiding damage. Eco Wave Power already has systems installed in Gibraltar and Jaffa Port in Tel Aviv, Israel. She works at another facility in Los Angeles that is scheduled to start operations this year.
Eco Wave Power swimmers convert wave motion into electrical energy. eco wave power
AWS Energy has deployed a huge
underwater buoy called Archimedes Waveswing, which lies below the surface and is attached to the sea floor. When the waves move up and down, a generator converts this movement into electricity.
The underwater buoy Archimedes Waveswing. AWS Energy
CNET.com article adapted from CNETFrance
Image: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory