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Investing in Technology for the Highest Impact in Clean Energy

Road with solar panels with wind turbines against mountanis landscape against sunset sky

The technology sector is an exciting space that includes trends from artificial intelligence (AI), to blockchain, self-driving technologies and more. Investments in technology have great potential in offering high financial returns paired with positive social and/ or environmental impact.

Governments continue to back cleantech, often seeing it as a source of new jobs and an alternative means of service provision. There is a widespread belief that technological innovation has the ability to provide the answers to our global challenges.

Sustainable Technology Investing

Also known as clean technology, sustainable technology investing typically involves investments in companies with sustainable and environmentally friendly products and services. Some sustainable technologies offer improvements that increase resource productivity and efficiency; others decrease environmental impact. It is significant in paving the way towards sustainability. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Science, Robotics or any technology that minimizes waste, emissions or the reduction of materials provides what the world needs for a sustainable future.

“New Tech holds enormous potential to increase sustainability. Emerging new technologies are enabling innovative ways to drive progress toward the 17 social, economic, and environmental Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” – The Wall Street Journal

Sustainable technology helps make much needed improvements in the clean energy sector. Clean energy – also known as sustainable energy – is energy which, in its production or consumption, has minimal negative impacts on human health and the healthy functioning of ecosystems. This includes the global environment.

Clean energy can be supplied in a sufficient amount not only to present, but also to future generations without putting a burden on them. The clean energy sector generates hundreds of billions in economic activity and is expected to continue to grow rapidly in the coming years.

Since the oil crisis of the 1970s California has invested heavily into wind and solar power. The 2018 state legislation calling for 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 and all new homes must have solar within two years. The state is ahead of its target and now even provides neighboring states with energy.

The great challenge is the storage of renewable energy. The grid was built to handle fossil fuel generated power, and storage solutions like hydroelectric dams are in short supply. Batteries are very bad for the environment turning unused renewable energy into not such a green solution anymore. 

New technology might be able to provide a solution:

1. Using gravity to store excess power 

California based company Ares (Advanced Rail Energy Storage) has found a way to use the power of gravity for energy storage. One of the most efficient ways to move mass are railroads. Steel wheels on steel rails have been used for a long time to transport heavy cargo.

With Ares’ invention of the gravity train, energy is stored using electricity to push its weight uphill. When you want to take the energy out, you let gravity pull the train back down using the friction of braking to slow the train in order to make its power. The amount of energy stored is the weight of the train times the height of the hill.

This is the same concept that is applied to hybrid electric cars like the Prius. This form of energy storage is not quite as efficient as a huge dam but has a lot less impact. The company has developed another form of their technology at almost vertical. It is still in development, but the technology seems to have great potential in solving one of the renewable industry’s biggest problems.

2. Utilizing underground salt caverns for energy storage

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems recently announced a joint venture with Magnum Development and Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert to launch the world’s largest grid-scale energy storage project. The Advanced Clean Energy Storage project will feature a facility that combines compressed air storage in underground salt caverns with hydrogen storage, solid-oxide fuel cells, and reflow batteries. The new facility would install 1,000 MW of energy storage capacity for an undisclosed time.

3. AI-powered energy storage and virtual power plants

Energy startup Stem has developed an AI-driven energy storage platform capable of providing quality and backup power services for uninterruptible power supplies, and solar/ energy storage platforms. The company uses machine learning and big data analytics, which power companies can use to adapt to energy fluctuations in energy usage quickly. The company also provides energy storage and demand charge management tools, as well as the ability to utilize virtual power plants for energy storage stimulations and projections that help maximize power plants and storage services.

Every day humans use more than a million terajoules of energy. This number is roughly equivalent to if all 7.5 billion people on earth were to boil 70 kettles of water an hour.

The Need for Energy

Our need for energy has reached an unprecedented level. According to BBC more than half of our energy still comes from fossil fuels extracted from the deep within the earth’s crust. Fossil fuels are considered non-renewable and thus unsustainable.

Investments in technology are necessary to advance green energy solutions and make the much-needed transition towards a sustainable energy infrastructure. Maximizing consumer and economic benefits while simultaneously minimizing energy losses and environmental impact is essential to protect the health of the world for not only the present but also future generation.

As our resources dwindle and are surpassed by demand, we work to find those green technologies that make an impact, and the people who want their investments to make an impact. Contact Transformation, LLC to join us in transforming the world and the future.

July 1, 2020

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