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6 Innovations That Could Change Energy

November 13, 2015
solar panels under sky on sunset

You use energy every day—and have since you can probably remember. But did you know that there are some new technologies that may significantly change the way we consume energy over the next five to ten years? Here are some of the new energy innovations that top the list:

Batteries

Battery technology is improving every day. With solar power making its way to more rooftops across the US, batteries are the next thing to experience explosive technological growth. With research in liquid metals, algae-based solutions, and a push to make solar 100% efficient, the dream of unlimited electricity may become a reality.

Wind trees

As windmills grow ever larger (the new norm is pushing 500 feet tall!) the idea of windmill power plants is old news. However, massive turbines peppering the landscape might not be the view you want to wake up to every morning. Enter a product called wind trees. These tree-like structures boast micro-turbine foliage that can catch even the slightest gust of wind. As the leaves spin, this little sculpture would send an electric charge to wherever you want. And a field of these power plants wouldn’t look as out of place as those very large wind turbines.

Net metering

For years, the way we received electricity was a one-way street; your utility sent power to your home and you used it. But with the ever increasing growth of solar power, a new path has been created. Net metering turns that one-way street into a two-lane highway by allowing any power that you create with your home to go back to the utility. And the best part about net metering is that your utility may even pay you for that power you put back onto the grid!

Community solar

Not everyone can get solar panels on their home or property, but that doesn’t mean they can’t participate in a solar energy program. With a large construct called a “solar farm,” solar power is generated in a field of solar panels and is  routed to the electrical grid.. Homes serviced by that utility can opt-in to the solar farm and get credited for their percentage of the power that comes from the solar farm.

Solar roadways

As photovoltaic technologies continue to improve, new locations for solar panels are popping up. One of the most inventive places to install solar panels is right on the roads we use every day. Solar roadways are exactly what they sound like: roads paved with solar cells instead of asphalt or tar. More than just creating power with the available square footage, solar roadways have integrated lights for better night visibility and alerts or emergency signaling capability.

Energy choice

One of the easiest ways Americans in certain states can participate in the future of energy is to choose a supplier. Since electricity and natural gas are necessities, the utilities that provide those commodities are regulated by the government. Deregulation, sometimes referred to as “customer choice,” allows suppliers to delivery your energy supply to your utility for you. Your utility, in turn, delivers it to your home. A supplier can offer different rates, terms, and products than the utility, and that translates into a larger variety of energy options.

Disruptive technology

Finishing off our list is disruptive technology. Called so because of its ability to overturn traditional business methods, disruptive technology can be anything that significantly alters a time-tested business model. In energy, this means introducing systems that can shift or micro-control power. With the “internet of things” (everyday items interconnected to a smart app or collaborative program) being able to make micro-adjustments to systems, like your water heater or thermostat, allows for the fine-tuning of the electricity demand for a specific area. This can eliminate rolling brown outs and extend the life of the utility’s infrastructure.