For decades, environmental activists have been very vocal about climate change and the need for renewable energy sources. Even before that, the coal and lumber industries were subject to criticism by scientists who believed that there needed to be a way to efficiently harness the power of the sun, wind, and water.
As it turns out, a few power players have started to shift the transition to green energy into high gear, trying to come up with technologies that are going to be the revolution in green energy production and storage. We cannot depend on one or two systems forever. The race to develop renewable energy technologies is on!
No, I’m not talking about sound waves, though it is an interesting concept and I might revisit it later on. What I’m talking about here is harnessing the energy of water waves. In theory, it should be easier than other hydropower systems in that it won’t require flooding valleys. It should also be more effective than harnessing wind power, due to water’s density.
The idea, as far as I can figure out, is to make a system where the waves crashing against the shore are going to turn the turbines and produce energy. However, there are a few problems with that. For example, the wave strength is not consistent. Neither is the wind. Another problem is coming up with a system that is not going to upset the local ecological balance, like dams and diverted rivers may.
A team of engineers, led by Dick K.P. Yue is working on a system that can be calibrated to suit the needs of the environment in question. They are laying the groundwork for the future in wave-energy inverters, or WECs.
You would not normally associate words like ‘billionaire’ and ‘mining magnate’ with someone working on green technology, but here we are. The chairman of the Fortescue Metals Group Andrew Forrest did something questionable during the pandemic – he traveled the world. It was not for sightseeing, though. He was doing on-location market research, looking for the ultimate source of green energy. Upon his return to the Land Down Under, he declared his company is going to be switching completely to the production of green hydrogen.
While his motives may entirely be business-oriented, the end result could very well be worth it. Green hydrogen is produced by harnessing solar and hydropower and can be used as fuel.
Forrest realizes this and, apparently, hopes to leave his competitors in the dust in what might be a multi-billion-dollar industry.
New Storage Tech
One of the biggest problems of solar power and some other types of clean energy is that the power needs to be spent relatively quickly. The storage of power is still an issue, especially in cases where the power input is inconsistent.
Consider the sun, for example. When it’s raining or cloudy, the panels can’t catch enough sunlight. This is a problem for the batteries in place, as they need relatively consistent input for optimal storage.
Betar Gallant, Associate Professor at MIT, named the ABS Career Development Professor, is working on developing a battery that will not degrade and safely store the inconsistent influx of energy from solar and wind power. If she succeeds, we may be looking at the ultimate battery on the market.