The tactic is to create an "intelligent coordination layer" between the power infrastructure and homes and businesses where power is consumed.
FREMONT, CA: Today, nearly everyone accepts that to slow the damage we are doing to our planet and environment, humans must transition away from using fossil fuels. This has led to numerous science and business innovations as we seek new sustainable or renewable alternatives to coal, oil, and gas.
Though it would be nice to think everyone wants to do their part to save the world, there are strong financial incentives too. For example, the renewable energy market value is set to grow from $880 billion to nearly $2 trillion by 2030.
And the growing awareness of the significance of environmental and social governance (ESG) issues means there are tremendous political incentives, too. 2022 is a record year in terms of the scale at which the switchover from fossil fuels to renewable sources will occur.
It's also a year in which we will observe new and exotic energy sources emerge from laboratory and pilot projects and become a part of everyday life. So let's look at what is predicted to be some of the most impactful trends in the new energy sector across the next 12 months.
AI in the energy sector
As with every sector, artificial intelligence (AI) has transformative effects across energy and utilities. It is utilized to forecast demand and manage the distribution of resources, to ensure that power is available at the time and place it's needed with minimal waste.
This is especially important in the renewable energy industry, where it often can't be stored for long periods and must be employed close to the generated time and location.
The World Economic Forum predicts that AI will be essential to the world's clean energy transition. These obtained in efficiency will be created by more precise supply and demand forecasting.
Also, a switch is taking place from centralized models of power generation, and distribution to decentralized models, where smaller, localized power grids produce more power (for instance, solar farms) and coordinating the integration of these networks needs complex AI algorithms. The tactic is to create an "intelligent coordination layer" between the power infrastructure and homes and businesses where power is consumed.
Green hydrogen energy
Hydrogen is the amplest material in the universe and generates close to zero greenhouse gas emissions when burnt. These are two qualities that succeed a very exciting potential energy source. Customarily, though, the problem has been that converting it into a form that can be used as fuel includes the consumption of fossil fuels and the creation of carbon emissions.
Brown hydrogen, for instance, is derived from coal, while grey hydrogen is derived from natural gas.
On the other hand, green carbon is created by a process involving electrolysis and water. So generating the required electricity from renewable sources like wind or solar makes the process carbon-free.
The Internet of Energy
The region of the internet of things (IoT) is involved with generating and distributing power. IoE is closely tied to energy decentralization – moving towards a more sustainable power infrastructure where energy is utilized as closely as possible to the time and place it is created.
This new paradigm in energy infrastructure includes a significant level of automation to manage the new technology platforms, and the financial framework markets require to facilitate energy trading and distribution. Artificial intelligence (see above) will perform a big role here, as will other emergent technology trends such as blockchain, enabling transparent and secure trades and payments records.
As with IoT, IoE includes edge and cloud architecture, with sensors and scanners processing data close to the fount (at the point where power is created or employed) and through remote data centers. This technology layer will enable utility companies to conduct real-time, data-driven decision-making and predictive maintenance to drive efficiency while improving customer experience and satisfaction.
Advanced engineering in renewables
The technology employed to generate renewable energy is constantly being improved, thanks to the huge pressure to produce power more economically, efficiently, and safely. In 2022 we will see additional advances in engineering, bringing us more strong and adaptable photovoltaic panels employed for solar power generation and turbine blades utilized in hydro and wind power generation.
The blades produced by US startup Helicoid, for instance, use novel arrangements of structural fibers to create stronger turbines, more immune to damage by environmental erosion and impacted less by structural fatigue.
This enhances their efficiency by making them less affected by downtime and needing less frequent replacement and repair.
In solar, companies comprising Dutch startup Lusoco are finding new ways to engineer photovoltaic panels using different reflecting and refracting materials – comprising fluorescent ink - to concentrate light onto the solar cells, causing more efficient harvesting of energy. This results in lighter, cheaper, and less energy-intensive panels to produce and install. New materials are also being developed that transform energy more effectively.
These incorporate the monocrystalline silicon ingots created by Norwegian Crystals, which are produced via a super low-carbon hydropower process. Advancement in engineering processes will be a strong trend driving increased efficiency and reliability across the renewable energy sector in 2022.
Energy originated from biomass or biofuel can generate far more of the power employed by human society than it does today. Over the years, we have seen a robust trend toward attempting to unlock this potential.
Thermal, chemical, and biological processes are employed to create more efficient forms of fuel from biological matter (like wood, crops like sugarcane, or even waste materials). This incorporates fermentation to produce bioethanol and biodiesel.