It’s been a remarkably business-as-usual yr for renewables, regardless of the societal upheaval wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. Most of our headlines this yr have nonetheless been about standard renewable segments resembling photo voltaic and power storage. 

On the margins, digital energy crops have gone mainstream and inexperienced hydrogen has emerged because the power service of alternative for tomorrow’s gas programs. However COVID-19 did little to dampen enthusiasm for extra arcane power ideas. 

What follows is a collection of would-be power applied sciences that we filed beneath ‘?’ in 2020. 

Turning crop waste into photo voltaic panels: AuREUS

Because the renewables trade ponders what to do with end-of-life PV panels, Filipino engineering scholar Carvey Ehren Maigue has turned heads with an invention that makes use of crop waste as the premise for a brand new type of photo voltaic cell. 

Maigue’s AuREUS (for Aurora Renewable Power and UV Sequestration) vegetable-based panels are tinted movies that may be utilized to present surfaces, resembling partitions and home windows. 

They degrade incident ultraviolet mild to seen wavelengths which can be mirrored to the perimeters of the panel and transformed to electrical energy utilizing customary PV cells.

AuREUS’s means to seize diffuse ultraviolet rays is alleged to ship a capability issue of as much as 50 %, in comparison with a most of round 25 % for PV. The conversion effectivity of the system is unclear, though a Three-by-2-foot panel can apparently recharge two telephones in a day.

If commercialized, AuREUS seems to be destined to compete within the building-integrated PV sector, which GTM readers will keep in mind as having a reasonably checkered historical past. 

For now, although, Maigue’s colourful creation has no less than earnt him a James Dyson Award and mentions in media shops starting from Dezeen to Bored Panda.

Salient Power, in search of an alternative choice to lithium-ion batteries

Considerations over the lithium-ion battery provide chain didn’t disappear in 2020. If something, the galloping tempo of power storage installations heightened the necessity to enhance recycling and search alternate options.   

Among the many latter is Salient Power, which emerged from Shell’s GameChanger program in December with a zinc-ion battery chemistry stated to be cheaper, safer and longer-lasting than the rest in the marketplace. 

Salient isn’t the one firm trying to make use of zinc as the premise for stationary storage programs — 12-year-old Eos Power Storage, which touts an identical battery recipe, raised hundreds of thousands in a NASDAQ itemizing final month. 

However Salient claims its proprietary cathode supplies retailer power in zinc in “a manner that has by no means been commercialized earlier than.” 

“Our group works tirelessly to show that our zinc-ion battery is able to outshining and changing the lithium-ion battery,” stated Ryan Brown, CEO and co-founder, in a press launch. 

Making fossil fuels extra palatable: ReSynth Worldwide

Till ships can work with carbon-free fuels resembling inexperienced hydrogen or ammonia, the delivery trade’s finest hope for carbon discount comes from bettering the effectivity of fossil-fuel use. 

Trying to deal with this challenge is Puerto Rican startup ReSynth (or ‘Re-Synth’: the corporate doesn’t appear to have a transparent rule on the best way to spell its personal identify), which makes a speciality of ‘gas enhancement’ to scale back greenhouse fuel concentrations from diesel and marine oils.

“Re-Synth has added 20 % to 30 % of water into the gas, holding the effectivity at 100 %,” defined chief working officer Antonio Colón-Semidey in a web based message. 

The gas emulsion cuts sulfur and nitrous oxide emissions in addition to carbon, he stated. Plus it has been accepted by the U.S. Environmental Safety Company, the Division of Power and the Coast Guard, and works with engines from main producers resembling Wärtsilä and Caterpillar.

Vortex Bladeless: wind energy with out blades

Whereas debate rumbles on over the relative deserves of vertical-axis wind generators versus horizontal-axis machines, Spanish agency Vortex Bladeless thinks it could actually dispose of axes altogether. 

Taking inspiration from the 1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse, the corporate is seeking to harness vortex-induced vibration power with what primarily seems to be like an upright pole. 

Vortex Bladeless was based in 2014 however 2020 noticed it attaining a few notable milestones, based on the corporate’s weblog. Particularly, it launched a small-scale product, lower than three toes tall, to compete with low-power off-grid PV. 

Two of those Vortex Nano units have been put in atop the Spanish authorities’s Renewable Power Improvement Middle (Centro de Desarrollo de Energías Renovables) in Soria and Vortex is hoping to distribute round 100 extra to check companions worldwide in 2021.

Seabed storage courtesy of Ocean Grazer

Though offshore wind is more and more eying inexperienced hydrogen as a storage choice, the group behind the Ocean Grazer idea, based mostly on the College of Groningen within the Netherlands, thinks a seabed-based model of pumped hydro might play a task as properly. 

The group’s Ocean Battery shops power by pumping contemporary water into versatile bladders which can be deflated by the stress of the seawater column when energy is required. 

Subsea pumped storage has been proposed by organizations resembling the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany, Hydrostor in Canada and Subhydro of Norway with little success to this point, so it stays to be seen how far Ocean Grazer can get with the concept.

Thus far, no less than, the Groningen group has picked up a few awards and began work on a prototype in 2020. 

Eavor and ‘the primary actually scalable type of clear baseload energy’

Alberta-based Eavor Applied sciences, a someday Political Local weather sponsor, is seeking to produce baseload energy utilizing an idea that has lots in widespread with a tool chances are you’ll have already got in your house: the radiator. 

In Eavor’s case, although, the warmth received’t come from your house boiler however from the middle of the earth, by way of a closed-loop pipe system sunk 1.5 miles into the bottom. 

The corporate believes one in all its Eavor-Loop programs might warmth 16,000 properties or produce industrial-scale electrical energy by way of heat-to-power engines. 

Eavor has been working a demo challenge in Canada since 2019 and this month received council approval to start out drilling a commercial-scale plant for German energy firm Enex in Bavaria, Germany, based on native studies. 

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