Green Tech to watch in 2023
From transparent solar panels to breakthroughs in fusion energy, a lot of time, talent and money is being invested in developing more sustainable technologies. We’ve put together a list of some of the ones we’ll be watching in 2023.
Let’s start our overview with the original source of green energy: the sun.
Solar energy has long been considered a basic renewable energy, and it is considered competitive with traditional energy sources, but it comes with some caveats. Most notably, the sun does not always shine. And even when they are, most commercial solar panels aren’t as efficient as wind turbines.
That said, efforts are underway to find new ways to manufacture, apply, and deploy solar panels that could help them meet more of our energy needs.
One of the craziest advances in solar power I’ve come across so far is the appearance of transparent solar panels that can be applied like a film to windows or other surfaces to harvest energy. ‘energy. Of them companies are pushing this type of technology forward: ubiquitous energy and solar windows.
Both aim to partner with other businesses rather than selling directly to consumers. Transparent solar panels will likely be offered as an upgrade option if you are looking to install new windows in your home or office, or they may be offered as an add-on for your car.
Speaking of cars, some electric vehicles are also starting to integrate solar panels as a key element. Every solar EV I know of still needs to be plugged in to charge for long distance trips, but you might be able to go up to around 40 miles a day on short trips on solar power alone depending on your car, where you park it, and what kind of solar pack it has.
The handful of solar cars I’ve come across, including the Aptera, Sono Sion, and Lightyear 0, are designed to be lighter, to maximize the benefit of their installed solar.
Capturing the power of the sun is one thing, but there are also people trying to replicate the power of the sun here on Earth. I’m talking about fusion energy, which seeks to fuse elements together to generate energy, similar to the reactions occurring in our star’s massive celestial furnace.
Recently, a breakthrough at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory occurred when a fusion reaction generated slightly more energy than was used to start it, which had never been done before.
That said, fusion reactors still have a long way to go. It’s likely they’ll need to be able to generate ten times the input power to become a viable power source, which is still likely many years away. But with massive fusion projects on the horizon, like ITER, there’s a lot to watch in this space.
While solar power and fusion aim to harness the power of the sun, other energy technology companies are aiming for an energy source much closer to home: the ocean.
Wave Swell Energy’s man-made vent recently completed a year-long test off King Island, Australia. Inspired by a natural vent, the Uniwave200 directs waves into its central chamber, where air is compressed, spinning a turbine and sending power to the grid. Wave Swell Energy is always improving its artificial vent and trying to make it more reliable and affordable.
Another company, called Eco Wave Power, uses man-made structures built in the ocean as a base for wave power generation. Their floats rest on the surface, where rising waves push them upward, creating fluid pressure in the system, which spins a hydraulic motor that spins a generator and sends electricity to the grid through an inverter.
The system is designed to automatically recognize upcoming storms so it can pull the floats out of the water until the bad weather passes, preventing damage. The company has already installed floats in Gibraltar and the Port of Jaffa in Tel Aviv, Israel, and is working on another installation, in Los Angeles, which should be operational this year.
Efforts are also underway to harvest wave energy underwater. A company called AWS Energy has deployed a huge underwater buoy called the Archimedes Waveswing that sits below the surface, tethered to the ocean floor. As it rises and falls with the waves, a generator converts this movement into electricity.
To see all of these technologies in action, watch the video included in this article.