Some would claim that renewable energy needs to think bigger. Green energy has been touted as an inevitable and necessary movement for decades, but its productivity still lags far behind traditional methods.
Solar panels and wind turbines receive a lot of criticism and provide only a small percentage of our energy needs. What we need is something new, something revolutionary, something off the wall that will take green energy to new heights and force fossil fuels to be abandoned forever.
A huge amount of money has been thrown at the brightest scientists to make sure this happens and here are some of the possibilities they’ve come up with.
The fact that it sounds like a superhero’s special ability means this concept’s automatically a winner. Tornadoes are unstoppable, wreaking havoc in our most advanced cities on an annual basis. Harnessing their incredible power could provide vast amounts of energy.
Work has begun on a proposed ‘Atmospheric Vortex Engine’ in Canada. 100 metres tall and 22 metres wide, this engine would be designed to create a circular flow of warm, humid air. When the air reaches speeds of 200mph, a vacuum would form at its centre, extending the vortex to a height of several miles.
These ‘tame’ tornados would be an impressive site and could generate enough electricity for a small city.
Wind kites have already been tested to harness high altitude winds, but the ocean could be a far greater source of energy. Water is 800 times denser than air, which means that it moves with 800 times the force and could produce a huge amount of energy.
New underwater kites have been designed to maximise the potential production power in water movement. Kites are usually non-moving, but these new designs travel up to ten times faster than the current it’s placed in. Due to the cubic relationship between Energy and Speed, these moving kites can create 1000 time as much energy as previous static versions.
The tidal kites can also be used in low-water speeds, opening up a large number of new locations.
The idea behind this is simple. The sun’s rays are at their weakest when they reach The Earth’s surface. Solar panels can only harvest electricity during the day and then all it takes is a spot of cloud cover and they’re rendered practically useless. The obvious solution is to put the panels closer to the sun, outside of the earth’s rotation.
So far so good, but, as we all know, getting anything into space requires a massive effort. This is a costly, long-term plan, but it could be our greatest hope.
Consistent solar energy without covering our roofs in irritating panels? Sounds good to me.
Charlotte O’ Brien has been campagining for greener energy for over 20 years. She works as a consultant for www.electricityprices.org.uk the UK’s leading specialist in cheap business and home electricity deals.