ENERGY & POWER
GRAND OPPORTUNITIES IN
Renewable Generation Technology
In response to growing concerns about the carbon emissions of the power industry, power generators and utilities are expected to make significant investments in renewable energy. Wind turbines and photovoltaic panels are the most promising technologies in the area of grid-scale power generation, and are already cost competitive with the fossil sources. However, all renewable technologies are expected to become practical alternatives to conventional power sources only when they are paired with an energy storage system. Grid-scale energy storage systems are expected to rely increasingly on batteries, due to recent advancements in Li-ion batteries technologies, pioneered by the handset and car manufacturers.
Production of Green Fuels with Electricity
Aviation industry and several others will not be able to use green electricity and will still rely on fuel. Such industries will benefit from green fuel that is generated with renewable electricity. For instance, hydrogen gas can be generated through electrolysis, a process that uses an electric charge to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. Alternatively, captured CO₂ emissions can be used as a feedstock for catalytic reactions that convert CO₂ directly into liquid and gaseous fuels, driven by electricity. These processes can be used to generate methane, ethanol, and other fuels, closing the carbon cycle and making the process sustainable.
GRAND OPPORTUNITIES IN
the distributed future of the electric grid
Over the next decade, the broader electric “grid” will play an important, but less central role in energy distribution. Distributed energy resources, including distributed energy generation technologies such as smaller-scale installations of solar, wind, and more novel electricity generating sources, and distributed energy storage systems, will increasingly allow major consumers of electricity to rely on their own power resources, and in some cases, to move their facilities “off-the-grid.” This trend will not mean that the grid will have no role to play in the future, however, as these distributed energy technologies will also contribute to stabilising and improving the broader grid’s operation. Investments in smart metering infrastructure and various connected, transmission-monitoring technologies would be necessary to enable these kinds of optimisations.
featured CASE STUDY
Energy & Power: Generation
We recently assisted a major wind turbine manufacturer in their efforts to make their turbine blades with resins derived from sustainable, biological sources. CamIn identified 20 types of bio-resins which could serve as alternatives for their specific applications meeting our client’s criteria in terms of technical performance and sustainability. In addition to making their manufacturing processes more sustainable and their products more recyclable, and will help them capture a greater share of the wind turbine market, which may be worth more than US$120 billion by 2030...
FEATURED grand challenge
The Impacts of State and National Regulation of Carbon Emissions
The energy industry’s conventional business models are facing new challenges from both current regulations, such as California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard in the United States; and impending regulatory standards, such as the European Union’s goals for 2030. For energy generating companies, the challenge of operating efficiently while complying with new carbon emissions targets established by state and national governments will be daunting. It will require the energy industry to make significant investments in early-stage technologies, including those related to carbon capture, sequestration, and utilisation; hydrogen energy technology; and second or third generation biofuels. These regulations will also create new opportunities for companies that pursue compliance and more sustainable business practices and products. These opportunities are driven by the increasing demand among consumers and other businesses for renewable products, less carbon-intensive transport fuels, electric vehicles, green electricity, and alternatives to fossil-fuel based plastics. That is why smart companies now view sustainability as the next frontier for innovation.
Early movers who meet the demands of both existing legislation and more stringent voluntary measures will develop competencies that will provide them with significant advantages over their competitors when these voluntary standards become law. The intent of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard and most other sustainability-related legislation is in fact to stimulate innovation. If developed carefully and executed effectively, innovative solutions will not only improve the sustainability of a company’s products, processes, and business models, but will also increase its revenue. There are many challenges that companies will have to overcome on their path to sustainability. Businesses must carefully map out their strategy for the road ahead, preparing for all of obstacles that they may encounter, and spending their limited time pursuing the most promising opportunities.
ENERGY & POWER
Silicon remains the most widely-used material for solar cells largely due to its low cost. However, silicon-based solar cells are inherently inefficient in converting solar energy to electricity, with a maximum theoretical efficiency of only 30%.
Technological measures can be taken to improve the energy conversion efficiency of silicon solar cells, and in some cases, even exceed this theoretical limit. One method involves using competitively priced 'add-on' components, which are affixed directly to the solar cell, and increase the solar energy-to-electricity conversion ratio dramatically...