Renewable technology: What to look out for in upcoming years
Author: Marcus Franck, Co-founder of Smart Renewable Heat
Renewable energy is a force to be reckoned with. As environmental protests reach an unprecedented scale, there is huge activity and innovation in this sphere. We’re all in this together: international organizations, national governments, local authorities, and private industry players. Smart innovation impacts the Balkans as much as it does the rest of the world, and in this article, I look at emerging trends.
There have been plenty of notable innovations in recent years, some of which are more feasible to scale than others. In 2018, Australian physicist, Paul Dastoor, launched a range of low-cost printed solar panels. Whilst these are not as efficient or as durable as their hardier counterparts, they do tackle a key barrier to widespread renewable energy uptake: upfront capital investment. This reflects a trend that must take hold, which is to lower the costs of renewable technology as a whole.
We have also seen superb innovation in wind energy, with floating offshore wind turbines as a key development that is set to expand globally. Ocean technologies are also developing fast, with tidal and wave energy at the forefront of the EU’s plans over the next two-to-three decades. These are the big stories that have captured the media’s attention, but we’re also seeing intricate technical changes in the technology offered to homeowners and business owners…
My area of expertise is renewable heat; an area which has seen major technical improvements in recent years – with much more to come. Recently, the emergence of variable speed heat pump compressors has been critical. This means that a heat pump can run fluidly at a different capacity depending on energy demands, meaning less switching off-and-on. This reduces electricity consumption and wear-and-tear.
Noise levels of the air source heat pumps has become a key battleground for manufacturers
Furthermore, a common complaint about air source heat pumps has been the noise levels. This has become a key battleground for manufacturers, who have focused on creating quieter products to set themselves apart from the competition. As a result, ASHP fan units are now barely audible. This makes them a more attractive prospect for homeowners.
We will also see significant integration of IT and renewables
For renewable electricity, we see that local and utility-scale energy storage will remain a key area for improvement. Without significant innovation in battery storage technology, the grid will always struggle to keep up with demand. As James Ellsmoor writes on Forbes, we will also see significant integration of IT and renewables. For example, the development of microgrids which are optimized by AI, and the use of blockchain in the energy buying-and-selling economy.
Summary: Electrification and integration
Innovation is exciting, but we should acknowledge the potential for overhype and be cautious about claiming the latest technology as a magic bullet. Overall, the biggest trend in renewables has to be the electrification of mobility and power, and the integration of local, regional, and national infrastructure. In order to reduce the burden on grids and large-scale power generation, construction stakeholders and homeowners must work with renewable technology on a domestic level.
We can expect further investment in greener energy by the big corporate players
Big solar and wind farms will be generating the bulk of green power over the coming years, but advancements in domestic technology and battery storage will push us further forward. On a macro scale, we can expect further investment in greener energy by the big corporate players, despite political setbacks and uncertainty about government commitments to combating climate change. On a micro scale, we will see more openness and understanding about everyday renewable solutions.
As a global network of renewable energy enthusiasts, we should continue to share our expertise and learn from successes and failures around the world. Innovation occurs everywhere, and at this critical moment in our history, it is important to encourage smart new ideas.
Marcus Franck is the Co-founder and Marketing Director at Smart Renewable Heat, the UK’s leading heat pump installer. He is a regular writer, having contributed to renewable energy websites and leading international media outlets. He is passionate about the decarbonisation of heat, and works to promote the benefits of renewable technologies.