As we start the New Year, energy technology is expanding into horizons that we only dreamed about 10 to fifteen years ago. This expansion also brings challenges that the industry will got to address and overcome as we continue toward a more connected, renewable future.
Increased Technology and therefore the Energy Grid
Through examination of future consumer trends, we all know that the amount of connected devices for every household goes to still increase. Past households typically had one TV, one phone, and only a couple of major electronic devices. Today, everyone often has multiple devices including smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Many homes have multiple refrigerators, TVs, and connected devices that need more energy like smart home systems, speakers, and HVAC systems.
While this technology is fascinating and may simplify our lives, the increasing number of electrical devices requires more energy. consistent with Bloomberg NEF, global electricity demand will increase between 50 to 60 percent by 2050. As we enter the longer term , we'll have to make changes with electrical grid infrastructure to sustain the amplified demand for power and energy.
Another factor which will affect the facility grid is the introduction of electrical vehicles (EVs). Consistent with Bloomberg, by 2040, 33 percent of all vehicles on the road are going to be powered by batteries, and everyone those EVs will got to be charged somewhere. This may cause more EV service stations and rapid charging stations, which require many kilowatts of energy. Because the demand for electric vehicles increases, the amount of rapid charging stations also will increase, and therefore the power system of today is just not built to support this energy output.
How are we getting to maintain the facility grid and do so sustainably?
As the country’s energy needs progress, including increased resilience and improved sustainability, we'll likely see smaller, localized power grids coming online. Instead of vast power plants which will supply much of a state’s or region’s needs, we'll see more microgrid technology within the sort of community grids, hydro-electric power, community solar storage and wind generation.
"As battery storage solutions become more available and affordable, it starts to form smaller community grids more feasible, enabling energy to be produced and stored locally"
For these solutions to figure well, they're going to need an equivalent sort of connectivity as a telephone and other smart devices. Since energy is going to be more community-minded, we must determine the way to intelligently integrate that energy into the facility grid, so it are often directed where it’s needed.
For example, if a microgrid is gathering energy from solar panels on a sunny day and has excess energy available, it'll get to connect with a bigger grid to work out where the excess energy should go and the way much is out there. Likewise, the smaller grid must tell the larger grid when it doesn’t have energy available, therefore the larger grid can supply its needs. In times of crisis, communities also will want the choice to direct excess power from the microgrid to areas with critical needs, like schools or hospitals.
The energy integration of those smaller microgrids to the larger grid is comparatively easy. Data interconnection will become critical with many smaller energy sources. While bringing smaller assets on and off the grid are often more efficient than larger assets, gauging the available or needed energy from the smaller assets would require smarter grid technology for coordination. The advantage of smaller grids is that they will potentially be isolated from the larger grid, lessening the impact of grid outages and improving energy resilience.
Battery Storage Solutions
Clean energy solutions require backup storage for when renewable resources, just like the sun, aren't available. Currently, the foremost prevalent thanks to do that is thru lithium-ion or zinc-hybrid batteries, which may store energy for future use.
For this technology to be equipped for consumers, it must be readily available, mass produced, and economically priced. We’re seeing an equivalent sort of technology revolution with battery storage that solar technology experienced five to 10 years ago. Prices are coming down, the power to manufacture and mass produce batteries is becoming more cost effective, and existing battery technology is being optimized. The cost-effectiveness of battery storage is particularly important, since batteries typically have an expected life cycle of but 10 years.
As this technology becomes more available and affordable, it starts to form smaller community grids more feasible, enabling energy to be produced and stored locally.
So, what’s next on the horizon for energy technology? It could likely be new applications of solar in places we previously haven’t imagined. Companies and institutions are currently testing solar pavement, sidewalks, roofing, windows, and even paint. While a number of these technologies are still being developed, imagine having a hand-crafted entirely out of solar products and the way that might positively impact energy bills while reducing demand on the facility grid.
Another interesting emerging technology includes “hanging weight storage,” where energy is stored by using renewable energy to physically lift a weight (like a crane) within the air. When power is required, gravity naturally lowers the load and therefore the lifts act as a generator. These systems are feasible because they're simple to take care of, installation is simple, and that they are low-maintenance. This technology is right for weather where battery storage isn’t ideal, since batteries got to be kept in heated buildings.
This is an exciting time to be working in energy–what was once thought of as impossible isn't only becoming possible, but already being created. These clean energy solutions are good for the world and also are helping to create a more connected world.