There are plenty of current green power options ramping up plus some emerging exciting ones appearing! Check some of these options out:
Hydrogen Fuel – Almost anything that uses energy can be powered by hydrogen. ‘Hydrogen fuel is a zero-emission fuel burned with oxygen. It can be used in fuel cells or internal combustion engines. It has begun to be used in commercial fuel cell vehicles such as passenger cars, and has been used in fuel cell buses for many years. It is also used as a fuel for spacecraft propulsion1‘. Currently Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia are heading up a green hydrogen project supported by other universities, Japanese and Australian corporations as well as the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth agency, ARENA. It is seen to be a very lucrative sustainable market, with huge demand. All over the world hydrogen projects are being tested and the race is on! Have a look at this video:
‘As of 2019, there are three models of hydrogen cars publicly available in select markets: the Toyota Mirai, the Hyundai Nexo, and the Honda Clarity. Several other companies are working to develop hydrogen cars2‘.’The transformation of part of Toyota’s decommissioned car manufacturing plant in Altona Victoria into a renewable energy hub to produce green hydrogen for transport is well underway. The carmaker has unveiled the first stage of its $7.4 Hydrogen Centre marking the 50th anniversary of Earth Day3‘. Please refer to this interesting article:
Solar – Traditional solar uses photovoltaic cells which requires sunshine, however a new focus is now on a continuous system which combines thermoradiative cells which operate throughout the night. The new cells ‘generate energy thanks to radiative cooling, where infrared or heat radiation leaves the cell and produces a small amount of energy in the process4’. This technology is already being used in some manufacturing processes where it converts the waste heat. An exciting avenue to develop further!
Potato Power – Yes you read it right! ‘The chemical reactions that take place between two dissimilar metals and the juices in the potato create a small amount of voltage5’ that can light up a bulb. This basic system could potentially be upscaled.
Diamond Batteries – Uses spent uranium waste (which we have a lot of) that is then encapsulated several times! Through a process ‘such a battery produces very low power, but has no moving parts, no emissions of any type including radiation, needs no maintenance, does not need to be recharged and will operate for thousands of years. A research team at the University of Bristol grew a man-made diamond that, when placed in a radiation field, was able to generate a small electrical current. And the radioactive field can be produced by the diamond itself by making the diamond from radioactive carbon-14 extracted from nuclear waste. Even better, the amount of radioactivity in each diamond battery is a lot less than in a single banana. By encapsulating radioactive material inside diamonds, we turn a long-term problem of nuclear waste into a nuclear-powered battery and a long-term supply of clean energy. The radioactive diamond battery would still be putting out 50% power after 5,730 years, which is one half-life of carbon-14 or about as long as human civilization has existed6’. It has a lot of potential especially for applications where you would not want to have to change batteries, such as pace makers and space satellite batteries.
Hydroelectricity – At home / commercial spaces etc: Plug into existing systems and ‘Flush the toilet, turn the tap, connect to a turbine and voila, you can charge your battery7’. Even sewage and stormwater pipes can be power creators!
Trees making Electricity – ‘It appears that a small electrical component company near Boston has figured out how to get electricity out of trees. MagCap Engineering is pretty sure they’ve come up on the next renewable energy revolution. By pounding a nail into the trunk and a conductor into the ground, a faint but consistent charge is detected in a wire running from the tree to the earth. They are now charging NiCad batteries and illuminating LEDs off the current. MagCap is applying for a patent while MIT tests the phenomenon in the blistering Cambridge cold. A company spokesperson told The Boston Globe they hope to be able to charge hybrid batteries this way, but they also propose lighting roads. Makes sense, I suppose. Everything living is running on electric current8’.
Wave Power –1. On shore and off shore bunkers with turbines to harness wave power are being explored and so many new designs are being worked on – check out this option from King Island Tasmania:
2. Bobbing Buoy – ‘Electrical engineer Annette von Jouanne is attempting to harness the power of the sea via a carefully built buoy. The idea is remarkably simple: Anchor a copper wire. Put a magnet around it. Move the magnet up and down (in this case, that’s the job left to the waves). This induces an electric current in the wire, as many will remember from high school physics lab. Inspired by the heaving of the water while surfing off the coast of Hawaii, von Jouanne made the idea bigger and put it in the sea in an attempt to utilize the constantly present kinetic energy of ocean waves. It turns out that the idea works9’ and can generate enough electricity to power several houses, and through government and clean energy company support the design is currently being improved and has capacity to do more.
Kinetic Energy – Harnessing power through movement has proven successful through a number of different ways: 1. Piezoelectric sensors can be applied or built into tiles and other materials and can capture for example the movement of foot traffic in busy airports, cars on roads, bridges, people on dance floors or raindrops on roofs. Projects already exist in Japan and Europe where power is generated this way. Very exciting! 2. Built into clothing – wearable triboelectric nanogenerators in shapes of fiber, yarn, and textile are currently being developed and are being tested in some fields such as military for charging equipment in remote locations. 3. Sports equipment – such as bicycle, gym equipment power or kicking a soccer ball around. This is an exciting project: ‘Jessica Matthews, a Harvard undergraduate with roots in Nigeria, wanted to find a way to use soccer, the world’s most popular game, to improve the lives of people in developing countries. The Soccket, which can produce 3 hours of LED light with 30 minutes of play, is the result. Matthews says she hopes her invention can supplant the use of kerosene, recalling visits to Nigeria during which the toxic lamp fuel made it hard for her to breathe9’.
Sound Electricity – Although not a new concept, there are now simple devices that can convert sound into electricity! Here is one example – ‘A group of students from the Philippine Science High School-Western Visayas Campus (PSHS-WVC) has created an inexpensive device that converts noise to electricity and can power bulbs. When sound waves hit the gadget diaphragm of the speaker, the magnet and the coil inside interact thus creating electrical energy. A larger speaker with a lot more devices added can harness enough electricity for the whole community10’. This is all at a cost of roughly $AU4.00 and can be up-scaled dramatically.
Harvesting Jellyfish, bioluminescent plankton etc – ‘The fluorescent protein that causes jellyfish etc to glow can be manipulated to release electrons and, ultimately, to produce electricity11’ to power small devices. Watch-this space…
Other ideas include: Never ending battery, stone vibrational energy, bacterial harvesting, fermentation pressure, compost energy, ocean thermal, urine, windbelts, speed bump compression and so much more!
Three other primary things to consider in our move to a more sustainable future:
1.Efficiency – of devices, appliances, light globes etc that we use and the internal wiring system that we are using (which were developed a long time ago!). Definitely more improvements to be made here…
2.On-grid / Off-grid / Large-grids / Small-grids – this needs to be explored further to ascertain what is best for different scenarios. Gone are the days when we all need to rely on big grids
3.Storage of power – Whether batteries (such as the exciting vanadium flow batteries, or ‘never ending batteries’, or diamond batteries etc) or other means (such as existing systems of re-pumping water to a high level during peak power times that is then ‘stored’ as power to be used later, by releasing it through turbines), or even just moving straight into continuous power generators.
So as you can see, we have many exciting green power systems in place that have huge potential and many more becoming available. It is evident that we do not need to rely on fossil fuels to power up, and that we just need to shift our mindsets and support into these more sustainable industries. There are loads of benefits too, including jobs. And like always, there are new industries opening up all the time that offer further job creation. Current workforce can be supported and re-trained, so let’s have the mindset ‘fear is overcome by action’ and like Germany have already proven in this exact situation – can be done with much happiness and benefit to everyone involved. The Ideas Manifestor are working on some exciting new ‘jobs’ for industries of the future…
Also have a look at Creating Power – Current Green Power Options!