Clean Energy Innovations: Three Breakthroughs that Could Change Everything

Every year, the burning of fossil fuels creates 21.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Yet, natural processes can

Every year, the burning of fossil fuels creates 21.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Yet, natural processes can only absorb about half of that amount. As a result, 10.65 billion tons of carbon dioxide are introduced into our atmosphere annually.


Clean energy resources seek to shift this balance. This is power derived from resources that are both renewable and release zero emissions. In recent years, the industry has experienced unprecedented growth as technology matures and environmental concern continues to rise.


Today, we’re taking a look at three breakthroughs disrupting the clean energy sector. These applications are both innovative and encouraging, leading us one step closer to a fully-renewable future.


  1. Chemistry for Clean Vehicles


Recently, scientists went to work applying a cutting-edge chemistry method designed to mix metals more effectively. They did so in hopes of ultimately offsetting the cost of fuel cells currently required to power electric cars while also reducing the emissions produced by traditional vehicles.


The technique, which took home the Nobel Prize in 2017, uses the atomic properties of certain star-shaped, platinum-based nanoparticles to catalyze energy converting systems such as fuel cells. The unique shape of these nanoparticles means that their edges can have varying chemistries, making them highly successful catalytic materials. Recent developments in 3D imaging technologies allow scientists to reconstruct these particles into different orientations to better study their properties.


As researchers continue to utilize 3D chemical reconstruction in this way, clean-energy vehicles aren’t the only application. They’re also looking at ways these nanoparticles can be synthesized to aid in light emitting diode (LED) and solar cell technology.


  1. A New Spin on Blockchain Technology


You may recognize the term “blockchain” as the system designed to help record and facilitate cryptocurrency transactions. Yet, scientists are now applying this concept within the clean energy sector.


As an uncentralized digital ledger, blockchain is virtually incorruptible and works on a peer-to-peer network exchange system. In this way, consumers can buy and sell energy from each other directly, eliminating the requirement to work through a central supplier.


This incorporation of daily, household systems into the greater blockchain sector is indicative of just how broad the Internet of Things (IoT) is growing. The devices that we now use to receive and share information are no longer disparate entities but are rather connected seamlessly through myriad applications that seek to automate almost every aspect of day-to-day life.

An example of this type of concept in action can be found at the Brooklyn Microgrid. In this local neighborhood-based microgrid, owners utilize blockchain technology to buy and sell energy to each other at peak times, helping to encourage the move toward more cost-effective and clean energy.


  1. Artificial Intelligence and the Microgrid


Continuing the conversation of microgrids, another promising development to look for in 2019 is the melding of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into these community setups. At their core, microgrids are designed to work as autonomous, independent units that can sustain and power themselves either apart from or in tandem with the traditional utility grid.


These setups are preferable for persons looking to establish independence and safeguard their households against the threat of an energy emergency. As machine learning and AI continue to sophisticate, scientists are finding creative ways these processes can help improve microgrid efficiency and performance.


New software enables microgrids, which used to require a lengthy development process to get off the ground, to instead be constructed in as little as one day. Working in conjunction with microgrid controllers, AI can help developers continuously adapt their building methods and improve their operations.


This knowledge will be especially moving forward, as projects including the world’s largest microgrid, set to be constructed in the Pacific Island nation of Palau, prepare to ramp up. The 100MW grid, known as Armonia, will feature a solar PV project offering 35MW of renewable energy with a combined 45MWh of associated energy storage.


The Future is Clean Energy: Looking Ahead with Confidence


As renewable energy proponents look favorably toward a promising forecast of clean energy modernization, there remains an impetus to educate the greater public on the benefits of making the switch away from traditional fossil fuels.


Follow our energy insights to stay up-to-date on current trends and recent developments. To learn more about how to become more energy independent, reduce waste and leverage exciting breakthroughs such as these, take a look at our renewable procurement program today.

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