12 December 2018 / in Company News
None of us can predict the future, but it’s pretty safe to say that technological advancements will continue to shape our world. Faster data computing, increased efficiency of renewables, and new ways of storing energy are all being developed at a breakneck pace, and technologies like these will shape the future of the energy economy.
From bladeless wind turbines to giant supercomputers, technology is already reshaping the energy industry for the better. Data sets that used to take months to analyze, can now be extrapolated in mere minutes, and if Moore’s Law (the prediction that computing powers will double every two years) continues to hold true, much larger data sets will be able to be analyzed, allowing for more precise drilling, cell placement, and possibly even to run plants at higher efficiency.
Here are some areas where technology is reshaping the energy industry:
Lithium-Air Battery – These batteries us atmospheric oxygen rather than an internal oxidizer, which allows these batteries to have five times the energy storage as traditional lithium-ion batteries. This technology is projected to be financially viable in 2020.
Thermal Storage – When you think of solar energy, you probably think of photovoltaic cells (the black panels that many people now have on their roofs, but there is another way to get usable energy from the sun. Concentrated solar power, or CSP, is the process by which the sun’s heat is magnified and used to heat a liquid (like molten salts or molten glass) which is then stored in an insulated container a later used to power a turbine and create electricity. This technology is projected to be financially viable in 2027.
Distributed Generation – Traditional power plants create affordable energy, but much of it is wasted during transmission. In the near future, it is likely that energy will be provided by many small energy sources that will be more efficient. This technology is projected to be financially viable in 2022.
Second-Generation Biofuels – New biofuels are being developed from algae and cellulose that are projected to have little-to-no greenhouse gas emissions. This technology is expected to be financially viable in 2021.
Third-Generation Biofuels – The next step in biofuel development will involve the genetic engineering of organisms to produce new fuels. This technology is expected to be financially viable in 2025
Space-based solar generation – The gasses that make up our atmosphere make solar power collection less efficient. By putting solar panels in space, they are able to absorb the energy from the sun unobstructed. That energy is then beamed back to earth in the form of microwaves. This technology is expected to be financially viable after the year 2028.
The benefits of using thorium in a nuclear reactor is that the waste that it creates is nullified in a matter of months or years, rather than centuries, and thorium is a usable isotope when it is mined, which means that it doesn’t need to be enriched before it’s used as fuel. This technology is expected to be financially viable in 2027.
It’s important for those in the energy sector to be aware of new, emerging technologies that have the ability to disrupt the industry. These technologies will provide cleaner, more reliable energy in the future. While traditional forms of energy aren’t expected to be going away anytime soon, those on the forefront of the new energy revolution will define themselves as the future leaders of their industry.