6 Innovations That Could Change the Future of Energy
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Editor’s Note: We originally published a blog on this topic in November of 2015. We’re refreshing the blog to incorporate new themes in energy technology and to keep you as up-to-date as possible.
You use energy every day—and have since you can probably remember. For the most part, the way we have used energy has stayed mostly the same for a few decades. But, there are some new technologies that may significantly change the way we consume energy over the next five to ten years. Here are some of the new energy innovations that top the list:
1. BatteriesWe are continuously innovating new ways to introduce renewable sources for electricity. The challenge? As of right now, electricity has to be used at the time that it is produced. We don't have affordable technology, yet, that allows us to store and save energy for a rainy day. This matters because renewable sources of electricity aren't always consistent. For example, the wind doesn't always blow to power windmills. The good news: Battery technology is improving every day. With solar power making its way to more rooftops across the US, batteries are the next thing to experience explosive technological growth. With research in liquid metals and other options for batteries, the dream of unlimited electricity may become a reality.
2. Net meteringFor years, the way we received electricity was a one-way street; your utility sent power to your home and you used it. But with the ever increasing growth of solar power and other forms of distributed generation, a new path has been created. Net metering turns that one-way street into a two-lane highway by allowing any power that you create with your home to go back to the utility. If net metering is offered in your area, your utility may even pay you for any excess power you put back onto the grid!
3. Community solarNot everyone can get solar panels on their home or property, but that doesn’t mean they can’t participate in a solar energy program. With a large construct called a “solar farm,” solar power is generated in a field of solar panels and is routed to the electrical grid. Learn more about community solar farms.
4. Solar roadwaysAs photovoltaic technologies continue to improve, new locations for solar panels are popping up. One of the most inventive places to install solar panels is right on the roads we use every day. Solar roadways are exactly what they sound like: roads paved with solar cells instead of asphalt or tar. More than just creating power with the available square footage, solar roadways have integrated lights for better night visibility and alerts or emergency signaling capability.
5. Energy choiceOne of the easiest ways we can participate in the future of energy is by shopping for and intentionally choosing who supplies our energy. Since electricity and natural gas are deemed necessities, the utilities that provide those commodities are regulated by the government. Deregulation, sometimes referred to as “customer choice,” allows suppliers, in some states, to deliver energy supply to the utility for you. The utility, in turn, delivers it to your home. A supplier can offer different rates, terms, and products than the utility, and that translates into a larger variety of energy options. Learn more about energy choice.
6. Internet of ThingsThe introduction of the “internet of things” (everyday items interconnected to a smart app or collaborative program) has made it possible to connect various everyday items (such as a Nest Thermostat E™ and a smart phone) to make energy usage even more efficient. This connection of items that consume energy allows automatic fine-tuning of the electricity demand for a specific area. This innovation can help manage demand on the electric grid and ultimately may help eliminate rolling brown outs while extending the life of the utility’s infrastructure.
Deciding where and how to get energy for your home or business is not a decision to be taken lightly. That’s why IGS is the ideal partner in energy. We stay up-to-date on what is going on in the world of energy and deliver on over 25 years of industry experience from a trusted energy partner.