Exciting New Options for Energy Conservation + Production
No doubt, life on Earth is getting hotter. The constant and increasing demand for energy to power our modern life has led us to exploit our natural resources, release harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and cause global warming. The need for alternative, environmentally friendly energy conservation techniques, and sources has never been clearer. Thankfully, some of these methods are already in use, and several innovative and futuristic energy conservation techniques are in development or testing. Keep reading to learn more about a few promising energy conservation measures, from solar shades, to solar windows, and beyond.
Solar shades, also known as solar blinds, are among the most innovative techniques emerging in the world of renewable energy right now. These aren’t your typical window shades and are not to be confused with shades that simply protect from UV rays (also called solar shades). Instead, they are advanced devices that serve a dual purpose: tracking and blocking sunlight to reduce heat gain inside while also generating electricity. What’s so exciting is how this takes an everyday household object and transforms it into a tool for sustainable living.
How does this innovative technology work? These shades are made of thin-film solar cells — tiny photovoltaic (PV) modules — that capture solar radiation and turn it into electricity. The concept is simple: as light hits the surface of the shade, the PV cells capture the energy and convert it into a usable form of power. Essentially, these blinds are made of solar panels, and they’re an ideal solution, especially for homes where rooftop solar is not an option. The pioneering company that started it all, SolarGaps, uses SunPower solar cells and designed the durable shades to be installed on the outside of the house. The smart blinds operated by a mobile app track the sun to ensure maximum shade indoors. This feature not only helps reduce cooling needs but also increases energy generation.
In the future, we could see these solar shades integrated into buildings right from the design and construction phase, resulting in structures that are energy-efficient and carbon-neutral.
We covered smart blinds, and now we’re talking smart windows. This invention optimizes the passage of sunlight for heating, cooling, and lighting purposes and works to conserve energy. There are a variety of smart windows, and while they are pricier than regular windows, they still offer a glimpse into what’s possible in the realm of energy conservation techniques.
One type of smart window is layered with a special coating that can modify its properties based on the temperature outside. When it’s hot, the windows dim, and when it’s cold, they become transparent to let in sunlight and heat up the interiors. Similarly, smart windows react to UV rays, becoming more and less opaque depending on the amount of rays hitting the window, much like transition lenses you find in eyewear. Other smart windows are powered by electricity, and homeowners can control how much light can pass through using the push of a button. Some even take it a step further by converting sunlight into electricity, like solar shades.
Turning roads into power plants might sound crazy, but researchers are looking to make it happen as the next frontier in futuristic energy conservation measures. Researchers from Rutgers found that traffic, especially from heavy trucks, can create mechanical energy. This energy can be turned into electricity using different methods. One way is by using materials that convert the mechanical stress, like piezoelectric materials or electromagnetic generators.
Another option is to capture solar energy absorbed by the pavement using photovoltaic cells, heat, or thermoelectric materials. Additionally, geothermal energy can be collected using a heat pump and underground thermal energy storage. The generated electricity can be used to power streetlights, traffic signals, and even electric cars. A real-world example is the Solar Roadways project, which is developing interlocking panels to pave roads and generate electricity.
Thermoelectric generators (TEGs) are devices that convert changes in temperature (heat flux) into electricity, essentially using waste heat to create energy. Thomas Johann Seebeck discovered this phenomenon in the early 1800s, so this tech has been around for a while. These devices are more expensive and less efficient than other sources of electricity, but researchers are finding new thermoelectric materials that would help decrease the cost and increase the power output. Durable and requiring little maintenance, TEGs are currently very attractive solutions for hard-to-reach areas such as space or very rural locations. As advances continue, though, TEGs could be used for a variety of other applications. Imagine charging your phone using the heat from your hands — very cool!
Energy Conservation Techniques
The future of energy conservation is filled with innovations that save energy and create usable electricity, all at once. From solar shades to thermoelectric generators, the techniques that are being developed or improved upon will fundamentally reshape our relationship with energy, emphasizing conservation and sustainability over waste and exploitation. The journey toward a more sustainable future is a long one, but with each scientific breakthrough, we move one step closer.
If you’re interested in keeping up to date with all these exciting new developments, you’ve come to the right place. Here at eveelife.com, we set you up for success as you pursue a more eco-conscious lifestyle by keeping you informed of the latest tech and trends for green living. “Join the Charge!” and become part of our eco-movement by subscribing to our newsletter and following us on Instagram and Facebook.
By evee Life Contributor
Published August 1, 2023 4:01PM
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