Published on January 30th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan4
Clean Energy: The Sky’s the Limit
I think we’ve covered all of the technologies and stories mentioned in this guest post below, but it is a nice summary of some recent clean energy news and a nice “step back and take a broader look at things” kind of piece that I think is worth sharing, so here it is!
by Hayden Brown of The Climate Reality Project
What’s the most exciting part of clean energy? Maybe, as my colleague Shravya wrote, it’s about the race to the top or the role clean energy plays in energy security.
To me, it’s the technology. How cool is it that someday, when we flip the switch in our houses, our electricity could come from solar panels in space? Space not your thing? That’s all right; clean energy technology has something for everyone. For example, researchers at Notre Dame are working on solar paint. Yes, you read that right. Paint that can convert sunlight into electricity. These technologies are still in their early stages, but someday they could change the way we think about turning on the lights.
But at the same time, engineers and scientists are hard at work improving existing technology for renewable energy. Offshore wind farms are already iconic along Europe’s coasts, but a new kind of wind turbine could change the game entirely. Engineers are working on giant, floating wind turbines that could be towed out to the deep sea, tethered to the ocean floor and left to float as they generate clean electricity. These 2- to 7- Megawatt turbines could open up the deep sea for cheaper, more efficient wind power.
As interest in clean energy increases, developers are looking at increasingly innovative ways to harness the wind. Here’s just one example. Makani Power, based in California, is developing kite-like airborne wind turbines (AWT) that generate electricity from high-altitude winds. By taking advantage of the powerful and consistent winds, these kites can create electricity from just a strong breeze. AWTs also have lower capital costs than traditional wind turbines and can be used in non-traditional locations such as valleys or low wind speed regions. Combining seemingly space-age technology with the tried and true is essential as we race to remove fossil fuels from our electricity.
Beyond technological advancement, there are big changes coming to where and how we build wind farms. The U.S. Department of Energy recently launched an online program that will make it easier to build wind farms in locations that generate the most electricity. Making renewable energy more efficient will help bring down the cost for developers and lower our utility bills.
Advancements in clean energy technology can be seen throughout the sector. The work being done at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado and Advanced Research Programs Agency – Energy has already led improvement in everything from the way solar cells are manufactured to advanced battery technology. The advancements this industry has made in the last decade are truly remarkable.
But we cannot stop here. By showing your support for the amazing work already under way, you can help remind people that our clean energy future is too important to simply throw away.