Although a minority do not see the need to do so, there are many scientists, startups and established companies researching alternative energy systems in the hope that humans – as a species – can wean themselves off fossil fuels. This is not just some philanthropic gesture on their behalf, however. It has been estimated that fossil fuel reserves will run out sometime in the next 50 to 100 years, so something needs to be done – and fast.
Solar power, wind turbines and other forms of alternative energy have not only become more popular over the past few years, but they have also become more affordable, and that is a crucial factor in winning over consumers. This point is even more important in the developing world, where some of the technology related to fossil fuels has not always been readily available.
What is being done? And how does it benefit us?
It is almost universally agreed that non-renewable fossil fuels – which we have relied upon for around 200 years – are incredibly damaging to the environment and expensive to retrieve. Using solar, wind or wave power as energy supplies not only sustains the very existence of the planet but are also in unlimited supply, so a lot of work is being done to learn how to harness these great natural resources.
Tesla, primarily a car manufacturer, has been researching renewable energy to use in electrical vehicles but also for their energy storage and solar panel divisions. One of the problems sometimes associated with alternative energy is that it is obviously susceptible to nature, so storage is of the upmost importance. With the research that Tesla has carried out into lithium-ion batteries, it believes that it will be able to use them in electric vehicles by 2020, creating a much cheaper and cleaner transport choice.
China is routinely portrayed as one of the planet’s biggest polluters, but it is interesting to note that it is also one of the biggest investors in alternative renewable energy across the globe. As a nation, it is the largest wind turbine manufacturer as well as owning most of the biggest solar-module manufacturing companies. With the money that China is funneling into renewable energy, it is leaving some other big countries behind and ensuring a better future for the environment as well as cornering a growing energy market. Doing business in China is appealing to many investors as illustrated in this article of New Horizons Global Partners.
This investment in renewables stretches overseas with wind and solar farms in Australia as well as lithium mining projects in South America. With the money that China is funneling into renewable energy, it is leaving some other big countries behind and ensuring a better future for the environment as well as cornering a growing energy market.
Researching a better tomorrow
Fossil fuel companies have had their way for a long time now, but all kinds of renewable energy groups are now looking to take over to ensure the future of the planet. Solar and wind energy gets a lot of attention, but scientists such as Andrea Rossi see the possibility of nuclear energy replacing our reliance on fossil fuels. His research into battery-powered E-Cats is working towards discovering storage solutions for electricity where a grid source has not previously been available.
Although you might think that scientists in Silicon Valley are coming up with the ideas that could possibly change the face of the energy industry, you are now more likely to hear of researchers in other parts of the world leading the charge. Quidnet, a Texas startup, has explored the possibility of storing electricity in areas associated with the company’s location.
By using the abandoned oil and gas wells that litter the state as energy storage facilities, Quidnet is really pushing the renewable angle to the limit. It is flushing water into the cracks between rocks where fossil fuels used to be. These sites have already been explored, saving money in the process, and the released pressurized water is then run through a turbine to produce electricity.
A hope for the future
The advancements already made in the renewable energy field are very encouraging, and with further investment and commitment from all countries, the reliance on fossil fuels can be decreased, as it will be forced to do anyway.
Humans are proving that the need for more power and energy will only grow, so encouraging the companies that are researching the subject should surely be a top priority. It could be the development of apps that help people use the energy that they consume more effectively or grander projects concerning international alternative energy schemes. Either way, you will be able to benefit in both a financial and an environmental way.