Climate change is arguable the biggest challenge of our time. According to the latest UN climate report, extreme weather events affected an estimated 62 million people in 2018 – a figure which will only rise if nothing is done. Towards that end, there is much interest in green energy, as a way to heal our planet while also meeting our energy needs. Most of us are familiar with technologies like solar panels and wind turbines, but engineers are hard at work on many other forms of green energy. To get people excited about saving the planet in creative ways, we here at sustainable investment fund Green Fund Finance (GFF) have compiled a list of five green energy solutions you probably haven’t heard of.
- Waste to Fuel: Next generation recycling firm SWESTEP has created the Catalytic Pressureless Depolymerization (CPD) process. This new recycling technology is able to convert inorganic waste (like plastic) as well as organic waste (like animal manure) into synthetic diesel. CPD is highly efficient and as well as combustionless, meaning no carcinogens are created during the process. SWESTEP’s technology provides a renewable source of fuel, while also saving firms money on waste disposal. CPD is so promising that GFF has partnered with firm, creating numerous ways to invest and participate in a SWESTEP plant.
- Concentrated Solar Power: Also known as CSP, this variation on solar power does not use the photovoltaic panels we typically think of when talking about solar power. Instead CSP uses arrays of reflectors to concentrate sunlight onto one area – typically a central tower. This concentrated solar power is used to heat up and melt salt. The heat from this molten salt is then used to create steam, which drives a electrical generator. As the molten salt can retain heat for a fairly long time, CSP has the added benefit of being able to generate electricity even when the sun is down.
- Body Heat: That’s right, scientists and engineers are figuring out ways to use our own body heat as a source of renewable energy. One of the most straightforward ways is to collect body heat from crowded areas and use it to heat other places. This is already being done in train stations in Sweden as well as some malls in the US. Additionally researchers are working on wearable devices that can convert body heat into electricity.
- Dancing and Exercise: Similar to tapping our body heat, efforts are also being made to convert our movement into an energy source. One example is The Dancer, a sustainable dance floor that turns the kinetic energy of dancers into electricity. Similarly some gyms are deploying specialized exercise equipment that converts gym-goers efforts into a source of clean energy. Now you and the planet can get healthy at the same time.
- Tidal Energy: With traditional hydropower, a lake or river is dammed up, forcing water to pass through an electrical turbine. In contrast, tidal energy generators aim to use ocean waves and currents to move turbines. While the technology is still in the proof of concept phase, tidal energy could potentially generate electricity without the ecological damage associated with damming lakes and rivers.