What are the next steps when it comes to renewable energy?

The climate is changing in many ways, with global warming being a particular concern for scientists, NES recruits renewable energy specialists across the world. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), greenhouse gases are largely responsible for the warming of the planet, which explains why renewable energy has become such a topic of importance in recent years.

We’ve all heard about wind turbines and solar panels, after all – but what’s next when it comes to fueling the needs of mankind in a renewable way?

Synlight experiment

Renewable energy isn’t some kind of eco fad. In fact, German scientists are currently focusing on the world’s first artificial sun, capable of generating temperatures of up to 3,500°c. Dubbed as a game changer for the future of renewable energy, the Synlight experiment features a device made from 149 industrial grade film protector spotlights each featuring around 4,000 times the average wattage of a regular lightbulb.

When focused on a single target, the light generated is roughly 10,000 times more intense than natural sunlight on Earth – but what’s the point of creating something so hot it could boil iron? Well, the main focus of this project is hydrogen extraction.

Put simply, hydrogen gas is an excellent and reliable replacement for fossil fuels. It is combustible and can be used to power everything from cars and aeroplanes to power plants. The problem is that while there’s an abundance of hydrogen on Earth, most of the useful hydrogen atoms are bound up in other molecules such as water vapour and need to be separated – and that’s where the Synlight experiment comes in. Intense beams of light generated by the artificial sun can effectively separate oxygen and hydrogen atoms unleashing a whole new source of energy.

The concept of using hydrogen power could be revolutionary for the renewable energy market. As Professor Bernard Hoffschmidt, a research director at the German Aerospace Centre explains: “We’d need billions of tonnes of hydrogen if we wanted to drive aeroplanes and cards on CO2-free fuel… climate change is speeding up so we need to speed up innovation.”

Renewable energy advances

As well as outlandish projects such as the one mentioned above, there are also a number of other ideas which could potentially change the face of renewable energy. Take solar panels, for instance. The concept of using solar light to generate an electrical charge is not foreign with many domestic properties embracing such technology.

That said, the trend is spreading, with businesses worldwide now looking to use their roof space to help meet their large energy demands – a cheaper and greener alternative for many companies. Not only that, but those who either have unsuitable rooftop space or rent a property and aren’t allowed to make structural changes, now have the option to buy or lease off-site solar power thanks to a new business model.

On a similar note, Google-owned Makani is revolutionising the concept of wind turbines by creating wind kites that can access stronger winds at much higher altitudes. Their aim? To generate more energy with less materials.

So, as you can see, ideas surrounding renewable energy are constantly evolving and changing. New and innovative techniques are being used to clean up the planet with the hope of reaching international legislations to help tackle climate change.