By: Ryan Ayers
As our population grows and we use more natural resources than ever, the issue of renewable energy sources becomes ever more pressing. Innovation isn’t only important in the business world, it’s also crucial for ensuring the future of our planet.
Fortunately, many innovative and uber-smart scientists have been on the task of experimenting and analyzing data to developing new, cleaner energy sources that may eventually replace fossil fuels like coal, gas and oil. Though solar and wind power get a lot of attention, there’s a lot more out there when it comes to renewable energy sources. Here are 5 of the most innovative—though these are far from the only odd options that have been explored.
1. Wave Power
Though it’s gotten less attention than its close relatives wind, water, and solar powers, wave power is being explored as an alternative renewable energy source. In order to harness the power of the waves, offshore wave energy converters are constructed. As of now, this type of renewable energy is still in experimental stages, but considering the open space available in the ocean, and the tremendous amount of energy it produces, wave power could one day be a viable source of efficient renewable energy.
2. Printable Solar Panels
Solar panels are showing up on houses all over the world! As clean energy goes, it’s a cost-effective way for people to power their homes. Making solar panels for devices of any size just got a whole lot easier with printable solar panels. Solar inks are used on rolls of plastic, rather than building panels made from silicon—an easy and inexpensive option for applying solar cells to small electronics, windows, and just about anything else you can think of. Once the solar panels are added, it’s an almost limitless source of renewable energy!
3. Body Heat
Imagine being the innovative mind who first thought of harnessing body heat for good. Think about it—whenever you’re trapped indoors with a large group of people, the combined body heat makes the temperature rise considerably. Both the Mall of America and Stockholm’s rail station have taken advantage of their large crowds to create renewable energy. In Stockholm, the body heat of 250,000 daily commuters is channeled into an office building to supply heat without using fossil fuels. The Mall of America also channels their visitors’ heat through a series of pipes and tanks to heat the building and save energy. Crematoriums have even been considered as a source of energy! Though there are only a few examples of using body heat as energy so far, it’s a promising option for busy hubs.
Algae grows quickly and has many properties that make it an ideal biodiesel fuel source. It has a higher heat content than corn or sugar, and can be used to make several different types of fuel. Its versatility and effectiveness could make it a top contender for replacing fossil fuels one day, but there’s still a lot of work and research to be done before that time comes.
5. Alcohol Waste
Many breweries have already figured out that their leftover spent grain makes good feed for farm animals, ensuring that nothing goes to waste in the brewing process. Some distilleries, however, have taken things a step further, using the waste from their distilling process to create renewable energy. In Scotland, some whiskey distilleries use their spent grain for an even nobler cause than hog feed: efficiently powering about 9000 homes. Some energy companies in the country have figured out how to convert the grain from some of the 100 distilleries, preventing waste and contributing to Scotland’s ambitious energy goals (100% renewable energy use by 2020). It’s nice to know that when you sip a glass of Scotch, you’re helping to power homes at the same time!
An Innovative Collection of Solutions
When we think about solutions to climate change and human impact on the planet, it’s not a matter of looking for one innovative solution to fix our addiction to fossil fuels. A variety of energy solutions can help cut down on carbon emissions and create a cleaner world. From exploring new renewable power sources, to cutting down on energy use with a circular economy, researchers and businesses are moving forward with innovative solutions to make our world a cleaner, healthier place to live.
By Ryan Ayers
About the author
Ryan Ayers has consulted a number of companies within multiple industries including information technology and big data. After earning his MBA in 2010, Ayers also began working with start-up companies and aspiring entrepreneurs, with a keen focus on data collection and analysis.