Renewable energy

Trends and innovations
    The need for a rapid transition to clean energy is enabling new developments in the renewable sector. Businesses and industries are moving towards renewable energy to reduce emissions, lower energy costs, and improve eco-friendliness. The major trends in the renewable sector include digitisation, energy-efficient integrations, and solutions that overcome the intermittency in renewable energy production. For these reasons, the use of big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and the internet of energy (IoE) are emerging as popular trends in addition to innovations in renewable energy sources.  Although renewable energies such as solar, wind, and hydroelectricity have been around for a long time, recent rapid innovations make these some of the most trending technologies. Moreover, they dominate the industry due to their competitive advantages. Relatively newer areas of research in the renewable sector include energy from green hydrogen and water energy forms such as tidal, wave, and ocean currents.

Impact of Renewable Energy Trend
    Innovations in advanced photovoltaics focus on technologies that provide higher energy efficiency. In addition, the use of big data and AI empowers renewable energy while also enabling other applications such as predictive maintenance and smart management. Distributed energy storage systems (DESS) provide flexibility and stabilisation to renewable energy generation. Grid integration technologies also stabilise the grid by controlling transmission losses.
    As a result, it leads to efficient utilisation of off-grid energy sources such as wind and hydro power located far away from demand centers. Indirectly, green hydrogen stores energy obtained from other renewable sources and also facilitates electrification. Bioenergy continues to remain a popular trend due to its decentralised nature. To secure and automate renewables, extensive leveraging of blockchain and robotics, among other technologies.

Advanced Photovoltaics (PV)
    Solar companies are integrating PV systems with every aspect of our surroundings while minimising the need for additional land usage. As a result, integrated PV, floatovoltaics, and agrivoltaics are logical shifts in trends. Additionally, developing thin-film cells to make solar panels flexible, cost-effective, lightweight, and environment-friendly. To improve PV performance, emerging companies are devising technologies to concentrate solar power using mirrors and lenses. Innovations in PV materials, such as the use of perovskite, are increasing energy conversion multifold. These innovations are further coupled with photovoltaic designs that enable maximum efficiency and high productivity. Together, these solutions also promote sustainability through recycling, minimum resource utilisation, and the use of alternate materials.
    Low carbon monocrystalline silicon ingots for high-performance photovoltaic devices. To produce these ingots, they melts high-purity silicon at high temperatures using the Czochralski technique. It also produces gallium-doped ingots that increase the lifetime of the solar cells and reduce the number of stabilisation steps as compared to monocrystalline silicon. Through this, Norwegian Crystals controls the carbon footprint of solar panels components at ultra-low levels, empowering consumers and businesses who consider the overall sustainability of solar energy generation.

Artificial Intelligence & Big Data
    The energy grid is one of the most complex infrastructures and requires quick decision-making in real-time, which big data and AI algorithms enable for utilities. Beyond grid analytics and management, AI’s applications in the renewables sector include power consumption forecasting and predictive maintenance of renewable energy sources. It further enables the internet of energy applications that predict grid capacity levels and carry out time-based autonomous trading and pricing. With innovations in cloud computing, virtual power plants (VPP) supplement the power generation from utilities. In addition, utilising data analytics and machine learning for renewable energy model designing and performance analysis.
    Optiwize, patented software that provides energy parameter analysis using machine learning. Optiwize calculates historical power consumption and carbon dioxide emissions as well as features renewable energy audits and weather forecasting. This allows individual and collective consumers to observe real-time consumption patterns. Moreover, it enables power producers to hybridise different technologies and optimise load sizing.

Distributed Energy Storage Systems
    DESS localises renewable energy generation and storage, overcoming irregularity in production. Based on economic and other requirements, offering a range of battery and batteryless solutions. For instance, flow batteries leverage low and consistent energy, whereas solid-state batteries are lightweight and provide high energy density. For applications that require large amounts of energy, in a short period of time, capacitors and supercapacitors are also used. Due to concerns regarding discharging, safety, and environmental pollution, devising batteryless storage alternatives such as pumped hydro and compressed air technologies. On the other hand, surplus energy is converted to other forms of energy such as heat or methane for storage and reconversion through Power-to-X (P2X) technology.
    Green-Y Energy develops compressed air energy storage technology. By increasing energy density while doubling the heat and cold extraction, reduces the required storage volume as well as provides heat energy and cooling for domestic use. The process is also sustainable since water and air are the only working fluids. In addition, this compressed air is stored in durable and inexpensive commercial pressure tanks. This, hence, allows building managers and homeowners to integrate renewable energy systems.

Hydro Power
    Hydro power is the energy derived from moving water. Unlike solar and wind, hydro energy is predictable and, hence, more reliable. Besides, hydroelectric dams, as well as ocean-based energy harnessed from tides, currents, and waves, offer high energy density while reducing dependency on conventional sources. The innovations in these renewable sources focus on energy converters and component improvements for harvesting energy more efficiently. Within hydro power, small-scale hydroelectric dams and tidal barrages enable decentralised energy generation. Ocean thermal energy conversion (OETC) harnesses energy through the thermal gradient created between the surface and deep water. Few also converting the salinity gradient formed due to the osmotic pressure difference between seawater and river into usable energy.
    GED Company offers microturbines for distributed generation of hydroelectricity from water streams like canals and rivers. The floating drum turbine (FDT) consists of an undershot waterwheel that floats on the water stream using a buoyant skid and is anchored with cables or hinged arms. The rotation of FDT by the stream produces electricity. The solution is low-cost, efficient, and ensures reliable distributed generation for electrification in remote and underdeveloped locations.

Wind Energy
    Despite being one of the oldest energy resources, the rapidly evolving nature of the wind energy sector makes it one of the major trends. Devising offshore and airborne wind turbines to reduce the demand for land-based wind energy. Innovations in this field often integrate with other energy sources such as floating wind turbines, solar, or tidal energy. To further improve efficiency, there are constant advances in the aerodynamic designs of the blades. Developing efficient generators and turbines for high energy conversion. The sustainability of blade material is one of the challenges the industry faces today. To tackle this, creating bladeless technologies and recyclable thermoplastic materials to manufacture blades.
    OceanHydro, harnesses offshore altitude wind using kites or vertical axis wind rotors. It then combines wind energy production power from subsea oceanic pressure to obtain low-cost electrical energy and grid-scale storage. Since the energy from the subsea is available on-demand, such a hybrid solution is more reliable than offshore wind energy systems. This allows energy companies to maintain continuous and higher base load for the grid.

    Bioenergy constitutes a type of renewable energy derived from biomass sources. Liquid biofuels with quality comparable to gasoline are directly blended for use in vehicles. To achieve this quality, companies improve biofuel processes and upgradation techniques. The majority of biofuel conversion processes like hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL), pyrolysis, plasma technology, pulverisation, and gasification use thermal conversion for obtaining biofuels. Furthermore, upgradation techniques like cryogenic, hydrate, in-situ, and membrane separation are used for removing sulfur and nitrogen content. Similarly, the fermentation process produces bioethanol which is easy to blend directly with gasoline. Fermentation also has the ability to convert waste, food grains, and plants into bio-ethanol, thereby providing feedstock variability. On the other hand, energy-dense feedstocks result in optimum fuel quality. For this reason, companies consider algal and microalgal feedstocks for use in the aforementioned conversion processes.
    Using synthetic biology to produce bio-oil from algae. The genetically engineered algae release this oil into the surroundings. Since the same batch of algae is reused, it makes the process fast and inexpensive. Considering that algae require only air, water, and sunlight to grow, this technology also closes the loop between greenhouse gas emissions and fuel production. The solution, hence, lowers the dependency of the transportation sector on fossil fuels.

Grid Integration
    Grid integration technologies primarily include transmission, distribution, and stabilisation of renewable energy. Scaling up variable renewable energy generation is often far from demand centers which results in transmission and distribution losses. To overcome this, energy-efficient, grid electronic technologies such as Gallium Nitride (GaN) and Silicon Carbide (SiC) semiconductors are leveraged. The challenge of frequency and voltage fluctuation due to variable renewable energy generation is solved through microcontroller-based solutions. Despite these technologies, stabilisation of the grid is a huge challenge due to intermittent energy usage. Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology empowers stabilisation of the grid during peak hours while grid to vehicle (G2V) solutions leverages the vehicle as a storage unit. As a result, both the energy and transportation industry benefits. 
    Producing microgrid controllers for coordinating all the elements of the microgrid. The microgrid controller, ARC, functions as a brain for the microgrid and integrates various conventional and renewable resources, including energy inverters, generators, turbines, power meters, and sheddable loads. ARC is encased in a durable enclosure to withstand extreme weather and temperature. In addition, it provides real-time monitoring and control of the microgrid.

Green Hydrogen
    Hydrogen gas has the highest energy density of all fuels and produces near-zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). However, most hydrogen is derived from non-renewable sources in the form of grey and brown hydrogen. In the past decade, developments in renewable energy and fuel cells have pushed the shift to green hydrogen. While cleaner, it also struggles with the problems of low energy conversion efficiency of fuel cells and challenges in transportation. For these reasons, the developments in green hydrogen focus on improving hydrogen storage, transport, and distribution.
    Green hydrogen fuel cells that use solar energy and water to produce electricity. The patented Lavo Hydrogen Battery System features a metal hydride storage vessel that stores hydrogen. It also contains a lithium-ion battery for fast response time, thereby making it a hybrid solution. The battery system is durable and operates under wide temperature ranges. As a result, it avoids power outages under extreme weather conditions as well as enables businesses and communities to continuously store energy for days.

Advanced Robotics
    Production and process efficiency proves to be a major hurdle in harnessing renewable energy. Robotics enables accuracy and optimum utilisation of resources to overcome this challenge. For example, automated solar panels orient themselves to maximise energy conversion. Equipment automation also expedites the maintenance processes while reducing the need for human work. Drone inspection and robotics-based automatic operations and maintenance (O&M) handle dangerous repetitive work, thereby improving safety and productivity. An example of this is the use of drones based on phased array ultrasonic imaging to hastily detect internal or external damages on large wind turbines. Drones further enable the creation of digital site twins and 3D maps through imaging and elevation data calculation.
    Developing an autonomous cleaning robot for solar panels. The robot, Lotus A4000, uses ultra-soft microfiber cloth for removing dust and debris thereby enabling water-less cleaning. It also traverses misalignments among solar panels resulting in an improved cleaning range. Besides, centralised control facilitates predictive maintenance and self-charging for the robot. Greenleap Robotics enables large-scale solar plants to automate their labor-intensive work while being able to control and monitor it remotely.

    Energy companies utilise blockchain technology to advance trusted transactions in the renewable energy sector. For instance, smart contracts advance peer-to-peer electricity trading for transactive energy. Grids are vulnerable to cyber threats and blockchain is used to encrypt the data associated with grid operations and monitoring. Through data encryption, blockchain facilitates digital transactions. Renewable energy providers are also taking advantage of blockchain to track the chain of custody of grid materials. Additionally, it allows regulators to easily access data for regulatory compliance.
    P2P energy trading using S-Chain, its patented distributed ledger technology. Using smart contracts, the facilitates the trading of surplus electricity in the open market and keeps a record of the transaction. It uses AI to optimise trades, thereby maximising revenue for generators and minimising cost for consumers. The underlying architecture provides local markets with an efficient settlement platform and empowers energy players to aggregate network services.