Key Trends in Renewable Energy
Companies around the world are leveraging various forms of technology to improve energy efficiency.
Utility companies are increasingly using big data for performance monitoring to improve grid efficiency. They are realizing that the true potential of data can be leveraged through data-driven operations; by aligning processes, systems and organizations, utility companies can enhance operational performance, improve financial outcomes and boost customer service.
GE recently announced the launch of its digital wind farm solution in India. The solution leverages big data and analytics, and combines this with wind turbines to create a digital infrastructure for wind farms. This digital infrastructure helps to enhance production, reduce costs and boost productivity over the life of the wind farm. Cisco deployed 1500 energy and temperature sensors on its manufacturing equipment in 2015 to get better insights on energy usage. The company has already identified measures to cut energy usage by almost 30 percent, which is likely to result in $1 million worth of savings per year.
Airborne wind turbines and batteries of kites will soon be used for harnessing offshore wind energy, reducing wind power costs substantially through the cut in installation costs. Many European companies are specializing in this novel technology. Examples include: KPS, Energies, Ampyx Power, SkySails and Altaeros (an American company).
Adoption of wind energy continues to expand with increased reliability and innovations in procurement contracts. Technology behemoth Google accounts for the most renewable energy usage among all corporations. Google, with 1638MW of renewable energy, is followed by Amazon (538MW), and Facebook (338 MW). The trend of technology majors leading the renewable energy space continues to hold. China made record-breaking investments in wind energy in 2015, surpassing the U.S. with almost half of new global wind installations and a total installed capacity of 30.5 Gigawatts (GW). China is followed by the U.S. (8.6 GW), Germany (6.1 GW), Brazil (2.6 GW) and India (2.6 GW).
Three U.S. states (Iowa, South Dakota and Kansas) now reliably generate more than 20 percent of their electricity from wind power. At times, wind energy has provided more than 60 percent of electricity on the main Colorado power system, and nearly 40 percent on the main Texas power system.
Disruptive technologies from companies like Photonomi have the potential to transform the Green Energy market. Unlike conventional solar power that provides heating, cooling, hot water or electricity, Photonomi’s breakthrough technology provides heating, cooling, hot water and electricity, and is over four times more efficient than solar power. This technology is currently powering 6000 systems around the world with free heating, cooling and electricity powered by daylight. Prague-based company, HE3DA has developed three-dimensional electrodes using nanotechnology. These electrodes, currently in the testing phase, will significantly increase energy absorption in batteries through their higher surface area. This unprecedented improvement in battery storage will result in improved usage of energy.
Green tariffs provide options for other companies to follow a similar contractual model of a one stop solution for energy to complement existing traditional electricity management with wholesale and renewable energy purchases.
Where there is need, there will be innovation – and the need for energy continues to grow.