ECOLEAF: The Current Status of Renewable Energy
Achieving a sustainable future of green energy production requires us to regard green energy as our number-one priority. We must shift global economies from a dependence on coal and petroleum fuels to one that relies upon the renewable fuel[s] of the future.
THE CURRENT STATUS OF RENEWABLE ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES
Only a few of these technologies are currently in use; a few are also in the initial phases of development. (“Development” in this case referring to evaluating their potential ability to achieve a per-unit profit.) Currently-utilized systems are continually being optimized thanks to government funding and as a result of technology evolution (either in the form of direct new technology such as photovoltaics or as a consequence of other industries utilizing common/relevant hardware). Due to a decrease in their production costs, some new technologies are being brought back to the fore after a long period of dormancy. These retro-technologies—such as concentrated solar panels—are enabling older developments to once again be relevant.
If renewable energy’s ascent is to be accelerated, new technologies must be identified on the horizon, new integrated systems must be created and tested, and new R&D initiatives must be identified and funded.
The technologies currently utilized to produce today’s renewable energy only represents 2% of the technologies used to produce electrical energy in the United States. They include concentrated solar panels, photovoltaics (solar pv), wind turbines, hydrothermal, and geothermal systems. Some systems have been functioning for several years—and have even been increasing in use—whereas other systems (such as enhanced geothermal applications) have limited production operations.
Beginning in the early 1980s, funding from the Department of Energy made it possible for Concentrated Solar Panel (CSP) technologies to be created and developed in the U.S. National Labs. The result of that research was the first solar-thermal energy facility in the world. Its technology, however, laid untouched for almost 20 years: not until 2006 was it dusted off and reintroduced. Now, 25 years, later CSP is ripe for innovation. This is only one of many already-existing technologies that requires innovative evolution.
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