They’re phrases we hear all the time: “Clean energy” and “alternative energy.” But what do they really mean, and how are they being created? As we inevitably move from a fossil-fuel based energy system to a renewable energy one, whether that takes a decade or a century, it’s important to look at the definable forms and how they’re developing. Here’s a small sampling of what might lie in the future for alternative energy.
Last year, a group of major airlines including jetBlue and United agreed to integrate renewable jet fuel into their operations. At around the same time, governments around the world agreed on designing and developing a global, market-based measurement system for international aviation. This step was part of a larger plan to ramp up development of aviation technology designed to reduce carbon emissions in the airline industry.
One of the biggest developments in wind technology within the last year has been the opening of the Block Island Wind Farm. Located about four miles off the coast of Block Island, RI, the five-turbine structure is the first commercial wind farm in the United States. Having officially powered up last December, Block Island is expected to produce 250,000 megawatts of energy annually. It has replaced the diesel generators that once provided power to a large grid along the Eastern seaboard. Expect more large investments in commercial wind energy to follow in 2017 as a result of this impressive project, which was created by the Deepwater Wind, LLC. offshore energy development group.
Shift in corporate culture
In the last year, hugely successful corporations like Apple, Google and Microsoft came together in an alliance designed to find ways to convert to alternative energy sources. These companies were already some of the most creative around, so expect for them to find new and exciting ways to invest in sourcing and developing clean energy. And as they do so, it stands to reason that other large corporations will join their alliance.
Perhaps the most promising area of alternative energy development, solar energy got a huge boost in 2016 from SolarCity , the largest producer of solar panels in the United States.SolarCity began construction on a new factory (funded entirely by the state of New York) that will allow them to become an entirely integrated solar service provider. This means that they’ll handle everything from construction to installation of the panels, eventually becoming able to produce 10,000 panels a day when the factory is completed in late 2017. SolarCity’s panel construction-to-installation model has become so efficient that the company estimates their panels will produce the same amount of energy with 1/3 of the panels another company might use.
In addition to American production of solar energy, there’s a rising solar industry in India, as well. India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has announced plans to boost the country’s solar energy production to 100 gigawatts by 2022, and that announcement triggered a rapid increase in industry and infrastructure. The Indian government is funding a $3 billion development project for solar panel manufacturing, and investors from around the world have contributed another $100 billion to the industry. This development is not just about environmental concerns. It’s clear that India’s government anticipates a huge market for solar energy not just in their own country but around the world. It’s a bold declaration that they want to be a major source for alternative energy in the years to come.
Innovation, however, isn’t the only development in the world of clean or alternative energy. At some point in the future, existing companies may have to invest in adapting their own practices and production methods to meet new manufacturing regulations on energy use. Pivot can help – contact us for a free consultation .