This article discusses future renewable energy technology. Topics include onshore wind, marine and wave technologies, and thermal energy storage systems. The REmap is an international reference case developed based on national plans of 40 countries. Table 1 summarizes generation of renewable energy technology by sector for the year 3013/2014. The data in the table is based on the REmap and the IRENA reference case. This article does not purport to be comprehensive, but should be of some help in understanding the technology that will be required to produce energy in the future.
Thermal energy storage systems
Crushed rock heat storage systems are emerging as a viable and cost-effective solution for long- duration heat storage. Crushed rock can be used for large-scale storage of heat and electricity, and can be reused by industries, buildings, and the grid. A 30-MW/130-MWh ETES prototype was recently launched in Hamburg by Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy. These systems are relatively inexpensive and store heat at temperatures ranging from 180 to 750 degrees Celsius. The heat stored in these systems is converted back into power via a steam turbine.
Marine and wave technologies
While the U.S. has had the benefit of utility-scale wind and solar, Europe is making waves in the development of marine and wave technologies. In this article, we’ll take a look at how the technology can help us meet our energy needs. Our panel of experts includes Richard Ainsworth, project engineer for the European Marine Energy Center in Scotland, and George Bonner, director of the North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Program at the N.C. Coastal Studies Institute.
Onshore wind is a promising renewable energy technology for the future. Its cost is lower than traditional energy sources, and the average capacity of an onshore wind turbine is 3.9 megawatts. The wind turbines are connected to an underground cable system, and the electrical current produced is medium-voltage. At a substation, the medium-voltage electrical current is converted to high-voltage electricity and connected to the National Grid system.
There are many benefits of solar panels as future renewable energy technologies. They are a clean, renewable energy resource. And unlike fossil fuels, they don’t produce emissions. A recent study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) predicts that solar panels will produce as much as 50 percent more energy by 2050. However, the solar industry lacks the resources to recycle waste and does not have the financial incentive to invest in recycling. Even though solar panels contain a small percentage of valuable materials, they tend to be made of inexpensive glass. In addition, their long-term use can discourage new innovation.
One of the oldest and most versatile sources of energy, hydroelectric power is derived from the movement of water. Typically, hydroelectric power plants are located near a source of water, such as a stream or river. The amount of energy contained in moving water is determined by the volume and change in elevation. The Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest provides an excellent example of flowing water. The Niagara Falls in Canada is another example of rapidly flowing water.
The use of marine renewable energy is a promising development for the future of global energy. The technology can significantly contribute to future energy supplies and help reduce present carbon emissions. This technology is particularly applicable to the Western Pacific, which has a large social and economic region. It accounts for over 70% of the world’s population and about 54% of the world’s GDP. By using renewable energy to generate electricity, this region can become self-sufficient in a relatively short period of time.
Unlike solar and geothermal energy, wind power does not require a steady rotation to generate electricity. Trees can tolerate gale-force winds, and move accordingly to the flow of air.
Engineers have speculated about the possibility of building artificial wind-harvesting trees. Such an endeavor would require new materials and devices to convert wind energy into electricity.
Traditional wind turbines, on the other hand, need a steady rotation.