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  Innovation and development

Three themes can be identified:
  1. Improving existing approaches remains an important option given the relatively low current efficiencies and unwanted bi-products including carbon dioxide. Hence the recent optimism with the improved manufacture of photovoltaic cells or with carbon capture
  2. Substitution of new and renewable resources in existing methods e.g. the use of bio ethanol from corn in place of fossil derived oil
  3. New concepts for power generation e.g. the electrokinetic or thermopile effects or the re-appraisal of methods previously uneconomic or unfeasible e.g. geothermal methods in Alaska or photovoltaic cells everywhere

This focus is spawning new academic centres e.g. in the UK, ICEPT, the Imperial College Centre for Energy Policy and Technology which are important in themselves and in advising governments. Furthermore, whilst historically, power generation has been very centralised there is now growing interest in decentralised approaches in both the commercial and domestic markets, driven by technology and access to it.

For example US company Nanosolar state “Our mission is very simple: A Solar Panel on Every Building® -- so that buildings everywhere will be hybrid energy buildings, synergistically switching between clean locally-produced solar energy (used during peak-time electricity usage hours just when electricity is the most valuable) and grid-delivered backend power (delivered in the evening or whenever the solar resources are not available).” Such possibilities become even more attractive with developments like that on King Island (between Australia and Tasmania) where new battery technology has now enabled the wind farm to provide consistent power. Such new “rechargeable” battery technology is scalable and sustainable and removes the argument of unreliability from many renewable sources.

  Dead cattle could become power source
CO2 Capture from coal plants (PDF)
ICEPT – Centre for Energy Policy and Technology
A Bank for Wind Power
New roll-print solar cells

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