Energy: Forward and Beyond

The one thing that is constantly the most talked about in science is the current forms of energy generation and sourcing. The world has seen its transition from non-renewable to renewable sources of energy through the last decades. However, the growth in the consumption of renewable sources of energy has been limited to certain countries and regions of the world. Hence, there have been attempts to create methodologies to harness even more different types of renewable sources of energy. We will be reviewing some of the recent developments in renewable sources of energy and the extent to which they are used in the current times.

The contemporary sources of renewable energy

  1. Solar energy - This is probably the most common renewable source of energy that is currently being harnessed in the world. Solar energy comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Hence, the main disadvantage being the constant need for a storage device required with it. However, after an intervention by a lot of major energy companies and especially after newer names like SolarCity making it big in the industry, the number of houses running on solar energy has increased exponentially.
  2. Wind Energy - Wind energy is again one of the most common renewable sources of energy, it also comes with the similar disadvantages like those of solar energy. Wind farms have been ever increasing in developed countries like the USA and the UK, however the reach of it is reduced due to the high initial cost of installation of the wind turbine. The wind turbine also requires some specific locations to be installed, they cannot be installed anywhere and everywhere, a certain demographic study of the wind patterns is needed to check whether a wind turbine can be installed or not.
  3. Hydro energy - In the areas of renewable energy, hydro energy is one of the most commercially developed renewable source of energy. Due to the increase in the number of water reservoirs and dams in recent times the number of hydro electric turbines installed has increased drastically. However, the use of hydro energy is restriction so certain areas, which limits its use.

Now we will take a look at the newer forms of renewable energy sources, and some recent developments in the ways in which renewable energy sources are harnessed.

Recent developments in renewable energy sources

  1. Algal biofuels - Considering the current state of fossil fuels, algae offers a commercial potential. SInce in algae the carbon dioxide has recently been taken from the atmosphere by photosynthesis, the environmental impact is very minimal. Algal fuel production has very little to no impact on the land and water resources used. Hence, algal fuel could be the future fuel for our vehicles.
  2. Bioalcohols - As we have seen in the case of algal fuels, bioalcohols provide similar advantages. Along with that bio alcohols like biodiesel and ethanol are already commercially available which means that they have high commercial potential in the market in near future.
  3. Piezoelectricity - Piezoelectric devices the energy developed by pressure, that is, piezoelectricity is the process of using crystals to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy, or vice versa. There has been extensive research going on in the areas of harnessing energy from daily activities and piezoelectricity has been one of the successful attempts in doing so. Piezoelectric devices can be installed anywhere, like dancefloors, railway stations and hence when people step on these platforms the mechanical energy transferred to the platform by walking is converted into electrical energy.

Other new harnessable forms of energy

  1. Body heat - The research in the area of harnessing energy from body heat is still scarce and a lot of developments are needed to make it commercially successful.
  2. Solar wind - Solar winds can reach upto 500 miles per hour of speed and hence could be a major source of energy. If we find a way to harness solar wind energy, the energy produced in one hour by solar wind would be even more than the energy used by the whole world in one year. However, the research in this domain is still scarce and hence its very difficult to see the use of solar wind energy in the coming years.