Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Top 10 Technology Advances in Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable (naturally replenished). Approximately 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewable sources, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, and 3.4% from hydroelectricity. New renewable sources (small hydro, modern biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, and bio-fuels) accounted for another 3% and are growing very rapidly.

Climate change concerns, coupled with high oil prices, peak oil, and increasing government support, are driving increasing renewable energy legislation, incentives and commercialization. New government spending, regulation and policies helped the industry weather the global financial crisis better than many other sectors. Below is the list of top 10 technological advances made in renewable energy in the last decade-

Solar Energy

When we talk about the renewable sources which have the potential to power the world, wind and sun are the foremost options that strike the mind. To date we have not been able to develop techniques that fully exploit these sources of unlimited energy, however, we have fortunately found some amazing techniques that have changed the expensive and non-efficient face of solar power to something which has the potential for improvement.

June 24, 2009
Paint-on Solar Cells

Thinner solar cells mean that they can be embedded in places where no one ever thought of having them - this is what researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology thought when they developed solar cells so thin that they can be painted on flexible plastic sheets, which can then take up the place of your normal glossy paints. These cells are based on the combination of carbon nanotubes and carbon Buckyball molecules to create a series of snake-like patterns which can conduct electricity. Researchers also expect that the technique will be much cheaper than what is being used today.
Learn more about paint-on solar cells here

October, 2008
Spherical Solar Cells

Spherical Silicon Solar Arrays is the brainchild of Japan's Clean Venture 21. The technology is up to five times cheaper, uses up to five times less material, and consumes half the energy to reproduce. With good optical properties these 1 millimeter (mm) silicon cells are put into little reactors, measuring 2.2 to 2.7 mm in width. Since the cells are spherical and not rectangular, the sunlight is absorbed from all possible angles for generating power with better efficiency and flexibility.

Domed rest house with solar power generation system at Toyako Town

Learn more about Spherical Solar Cells here

November 26, 2007 Reflective dishes

The demand of solar energy has increased the demand for silicon, this has made researchers think of alternatives to silicon. A team of researchers at Israel’s Ben Gurion University has found what they are calling a better alternative to silicon. The team has used gallium arsenide instead of silicon in their solar cells, which becomes more efficient when used with reflective dishes. This makes the system expensive than silicon solar panels, but the cost per watt is made comparable to that of a conventional power plant. The team has designed a reflector made of mirrors that collects and intensifies the light a thousand times over. A solar energy system built on 4.6 square miles in the Negev would produce 1,000 megawatts of electricity.

Learn more about Reflective dishes at Sustainabilitank
Wind Energy
Wind energy is among the world’s fastest-growing sources of energy. During the last decade, wind energy growth rates worldwide averaged about 30 percent annually. In the last three years, the U.S. and Texas wind energy markets also have experienced a rapid expansion of capacity. In 2007, for example, U.S. wind power capacity grew by 43 percent, while Texas’ rose by 57 percent.

This growth has been driven by a variety of factors including government subsidies and tax incentives, improved technology, higher fossil fuel prices and investor concerns about potential federal action to reduce carbon emissions, which could make electricity from fossil fuels more expensive. Over the past decade, wind turbine use has increased at more than 25 percent a year. Still, it only provides a small fraction of the world's energy.

April 29, 2009

Leviathan Energy

Leviathan Energy is an ideal way to increase the efficiency of a wind turbine. The best part is that there is no need to increase the size of the turbine. This innovation is developed by Daniel Farb, the CEO of Leviathan Energy. He has named this innovation “Wind Energizer” which is capable of increasing wind energy output by 30 percent. The idea was to modify the environment around the turbine to ensure that highest velocity winds hits the blade rather than increasing the blade size of the turbine. So a donut shape structure was formed in such shape and dimensions such that highest velocity wind hits the blade. The break even for erecting this structure has been estimated to be around four to five years, thus, making it an irresistible deal.

Learn more about Leviathan Energy at

Tower Height   

Advance Turbine System (ATS) has come up with an innovative technique to increase the output of a wind turbine by increasing its height. Conventionally people used to increase the blade size to increase the turbine efficiency which soon turned out to be an expensive option with limited availability of space. However, with this technique one can boost the efficiency of the turbine by 20 percent. This is surely a cost-effective method that will continue to offer its benefits for a longer period of time without incurring considerable amount of money.

Learn more about Tower Height at Renewable Energy World

May 18, 2010 

Bladeless Wind Turbine 

A research company in New Hampshire recently patented its bladeless wind turbine, which is based on a patent issued to Nikola Tesla in 1913. This wind turbine is christened as the Fuller Wind Turbine. This turbine is developed by Solar Aero. The specialty of Fuller Wind Turbine is it has only one rotating part, known as the turbine-driveshaft. The entire machinery is assembled inside housing. Wind turbines are often disliked by environmentalists because they kill birds and bats and often generate noise for the residents living nearby.

The wind industry is trying to find a solution to the problem by working with environmental groups, federal regulators, and other interested parties. They are trying to develop methods of measuring and mitigating wind energy’s effect on birds. The Fuller Wind Turbine offers hope to bird lovers and environmentalists.

Fuller Wind Turbine has several advantages over the traditional ones having blades. Fuller Wind Turbine has a screened inlet and outlet. If you try to get a closer look at this wind turbine you can see the only movement visible is as it adjusts to track the wind. This wind turbine can be utilized by the military surveillance and radar installations because there are no moving blades to cause difficulties.

Another plus attached to this wind turbine is that it won’t cost a heaven when you get its power. According to manufacturers this turbine is expected to deliver power at a cost at par with the coal-fired power plants. If you want to probe deeper, its good news that total operating costs over the lifetime of the unit are expected to be about $0.12/kWh.

If we take the maintenance angle it won’t cause much headache because it’s a bladeless turbine. The turbine maintenance requirements are not colossal and it would result in lower lifetime operating costs. The turbine is mainly supported on magnetic bearings. Another advantage is all of the generating equipments are kept at ground level. This will lead towards easy maintenance of equipments. The company comes out with encouraging figures and proclaims “final costs will be about $1.50/watt rated output, or roughly 2/3 the cost of comparable bladed units.”

If we take a look at the Tesla turbine patented in 1913, it operates using the viscous flow of a fluid to move the turbine and as a result generates energy. The Tesla turbine has a set of smooth disks fitted with nozzles that send out a moving gas to the edge of the disk. The gases drag on the disk by following the principle of viscosity and the adhesion of the surface layer of the gas. As the gas slows and adds force to the disks, it twirls in to the center exhaust. Because the rotor has no projections, it is very strong and sturdy. One has to be careful about the disk space because disks in the turbine need to be closely spaced so that they can trap the viscous flow. The Tesla turbine has extremely thin disks to reduce turbulence at the edges and that makes them effective. In 1913, Tesla was unable to find metals of adequate quality to make this work effectively. But now almost a century later, those limitations have been surmounted.

Solar Aero’s current prototype is a modest trailer-mounted unit. But inventor says that their other models “should be capable of 10kW output with no problem.” If this technology takes off smoothly it would remove many hurdles attached with conventional wind turbines and more environment-friendly.

 Learn more about the Bladeless Wind Turbine at Solar Aero and Eco Geek

Biomass Power

July 31, 2008

Green crude

Perhaps one of the most promising innovations in recent years is clean energy derived from algae. The slimy green stuff that collects on surface water is filled with fuel potential: Some kinds of algae are comprised of more than 50% oil and contribute zero emissions to greenhouse gases.
According to the World Watch Institute, an average acre of algae grown today for pharmaceutical industries can produce 5,000 gallons (19,000 liters) of biodiesel each year. In contrast, an average acre of corn produces 420 gallons (1,600 liters) of ethanol per year, and an acre of soybeans yields just 70 gallons (265 liters) of biodiesel per year.

With just water, carbon dioxide and sunlight, algae can quadruple in mass in just one day.

Algae is encouraging not only because it’s quickly renewable, but because it’s carbon-neutral. It’s a living, single-celled organism that performs photosynthesis, so it takes the same amount of carbon out of the atmosphere to create itself as it puts back in when it’s burned. Additionally, it removes nitrogen from wastewater. Algae have an application in water treatment facilities, as well.

The primary U.S Company cultivating this green-colored fuel is Sapphire Energy in San Diego. According to the company, they have created green crude that is identical to the light, sweet crude oil used to manufacture gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, and heating oil.

Another benefit to mass-production of green crude is that it is identical to fossil-based crude. That means it can be used in the existing refining infrastructure. None of the factories and refining facilities currently making oil products out of fossil-based crude will have to replace any of their expensive equipment.

The only thing keeping us from moving forward with “green crude” is the cost of production. Currently, it is still cheaper to drill for crude than to put the proper algae-cultivating infrastructure in place.

Learn more about Green Crude at Sapphire Energy and Treehugger


December 30, 2008

Biofuels (e.g. Jatropha oil, Switchgrass)

Asia Cleantech
When corn and sugarcane first popped up as viable alternative to fuels, hopefulness ensued. But we soon learned that first generation biofuels came with too many setbacks, namely, their interference with food crops and their inability to be cost-competitive with traditional fuels.

Fortunately, second and third generation biofuels are far more promising.
Though almost any crop these days seems fair game as a biofuel material, there are some that are more effective than others. Jatropha oil and switchgrass – both inedible crops – are among them.

The jatropha plant has emerged as one of the best options for airline biofuel because of its resilience and low water needs. In December 2008, Air New Zealand ran a test flight using a blend of kerosene and oil from the jatropha plant. Its success led Air New Zealand to set a goal of using 10% biofuels by 2013.

Today’s biofuels must be sustainable and not compete with food crops for resources, and they must be cost-competitive with fuel oil. Though biofuel made by switchgrass isn’t as energy intensive as algae-based green crude, it is more energy intensive than corn ethanol. In areas where there is plenty of room for these crops to grow, the technology can support the surrounding community.

Because of the vast improvements in utilizing these renewable resources, commercial viability of second and third generation biofuels may be closer than we originally thought.

How close are these technologies to reaching to US consumer market? And which has the most potential to change our energy landscape?
2008 marked the first time that global investment in renewable energy sources surpassed investment in fossil fuel technologies.

According to research firm New Energy Finance, last year’s investment in alternative energy quadrupled the amount in 2004 and topped the record-breaking year of 2007 by 5 percent.

Clearly, this indicates that there is a shift away from expensive oil fossil fuel excavation technology, and toward the vast landscape of renewable energy.

The innovative methods described above – in addition to the old standbys such as wind, solar, nuclear, and geothermal power – are already in existence in pilot programs. It is only a matter of investment and education before the public accepts them as mainstream alternatives to crude oil. Each has its pros and cons, and none may be the panacea for our country’s immense energy needs.

However, a smart combination of renewable energy technologies will perhaps be the best bet in moving forward. For example, power from poultry litter is perfect for any community with a large poultry industry, and green crude will work well where there is already access to algae-rich water.

The future of energy is already here. As we refine these technologies, approach peak oil, and tweak our lifestyle habits, we’ll most likely see wide-scale implementation of renewable energy.

Learn More about Biofuels at and Ode Wire

Geothermal Power


Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS)

Enhanced Geothermal System
Ten years ago, Marcellus, Barnett and Haynesville were merely considered to be interesting rock formations that contained natural gas in very small pockets.

But that changed when the natural-gas industry successfully commercialized the technique of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

This simple process involves drilling a hole down to the shale rock, which contains the natural gas. The drill bit then continues through the rock for as much as several miles. The bit is then withdrawn when the hole is pressurized enough, and the rock is hydraulically fractured. This process releases the gas, which then flows to the surface.

This is what has created boom times for the natural gas industry.

Today, geothermal scientists are experimenting with a modified version of the natural gas technique for geothermal energy - known as an Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS).

Simply put, this technique involves pumping cold water down one well, which the underground rock then heats as the water flows through. The water then returns to the surface via a second well. The rest of the process is the same as conventional geothermal.

So how much power could be generated using this technique?

According to a 2006 report from the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the amount of EGS resources in the United States could provide 140,000 times the total annual energy use in the country.

Using technology available today, MIT scientists further estimated that the total recoverable power from EGS resources could be as much as 12,200 Gigawatts. That's 15 times higher than the largest peak summertime electrical load in the United States.

Learn more about EGS here

Ocean Tidal Power

Alternative Energy News
Some of the oldest ocean energy technologies use tidal power. All coastal areas consistently experience two high and two low tides over a period of slightly greater than 24 hours. For those tidal differences to be harnessed into electricity, the difference between high and low tides must be at least five meters, or more than 16 feet. There are only about 40 sites on the Earth with tidal ranges of this magnitude.

Currently, there are no tidal power plants in the United States. However, conditions are good for tidal power generation in both the Pacific Northwest and the Atlantic Northeast regions of the country.

Learn more about Tidal Power here

October 11, 2005

Direct Energy Conversion Method

Trident Energy announces breakthrough in sea wave renewable energy technology. Milestone tests at UK’s New and Renewable Energy Centre (NaREC) demonstrate viability of Direct Energy Conversion Method. London: Trident Energy Ltd announced a further major step towards cost effective, flexible and uncomplicated production of energy from sea wave power. Trident Energy Ltd, based in Southend on Sea, Essex, UK, reports that its patented Direct Energy Conversion Method (DECM) has successfully completed testing at the UK’s New and Renewable Energy Centre NaREC) at Blyth, Northumberland. Trident Energy’s technology differs fundamentally from that of all other existing wave energy devices. Rather than using air or hydraulics as part of the conversion train, it converts wave energy directly to electricity through a unique and patented form of low cost linear generator.

Learn more about Direct Energy Conversion Method at Trident Energy