Sustainability

New alternative energy technology looms on horizon

Zinc-air batteries

Zinc resources are currently 100 times greater than lithium ion; hence a push towards zinc-air batteries would be a smart move. Zinc batteries are already used in hearing aids, but there is no rechargeable version yet. Once a rechargeable zinc-air battery is released in a few years, it can be used in laptops and electric vehicles. Zinc is a good resource as far as sustainability is concerned since it is recyclable, cheap, and has a high energy density.

Algae biofuels

Algae biofuels are already out there today, but they are not common. Production costs need to come down, but once algae biofuels are cost-effective they can be mass-produced in coastal ponds and then used in compatible vehicles. This would reduce carbon emissions by a large percentage since algae biofuels only produce one fifth of the carbon emissions of fossil fuels.

Organic solar cells

Organic solar cells are in the works and can be very innovative once they are made more efficient. Researchers are struggling to create organic solar cells with more than nine percent light-to-energy conversion efficiency, but if a breakthrough is made to get closer to 15 percent (average conversion efficiency for silicon-based solar panels) then organic solar cells would increase in sales. The future of organic solar cells could lead to the average person wearing solar clothing, carrying solar umbrellas, and using portable solar chargers for devices like their mobile phones and MP3 players.

Marine Energy

Tidal power is a form of energy that coastal communities are hoping to utilize in the near future. Tidal power uses forces created by ocean currents to generate energy that can be put towards the grid to help lower energy costs. Tidal power is still in the works but it is estimated that, by 2020, 20 percent of the UK will be powered by marine energy.

Reliable offshore wind

The big issue with offshore wind currently is high maintenance costs. Energy companies are still trying to figure out an effective way to implement offshore wind without having to worry about a turbine breaking down and having to sail out into the ocean in order to repair or replace it. The best way to solve this issue is to produce sturdier parts for production. Researchers are currently looking into the possibilities for sturdier design, installation, and maintenance. Once offshore wind is seen as being more feasible by energy companies and less of a maintenance issue, offshore wind can became a big source for power since offshore wind currents are much more reliable than wind currents on land.