There’s a new focus on alternative energy. Developed nations see alternative energy as key to freeing them from dependence on fossil fuels and the disputes it causes. Countries around the world also don’t want to be left behind when new economic sectors develop and take hold in the mainstream. Companies around the globe are realizing the potential for new earnings growth in new energy production and consumer usage. Clean energy is predicted to provide increased jobs in energy production, distribution, maintenance of clean energy infrastructure, and sales. Some companies are vying to be at the forefront of any success found in new energy sources. The following companies have contributed their money and know-how to innovate cutting-edge technologies which are already impacting the progress of alternative energy.
1. Westinghouse – Technology to effectively harvest wind and solar energy hasn’t been devised. For that reason, the top spot has been given to a company that can provide alternative energy now and reduce dependence on fossil fuel. Westinghouse has an established history of producing safe and environmentally friendly nuclear plants which can meet any nation’s demands right now. The energy produced at a nuclear power plant could support the infrastructure of new electric cars, residences that will be recharging vehicles at home, and the every day demands of households and businesses. Providing electricity from a grid of separate nuclear plants is the dream of many who pioneer nuclear power. By itself, nuclear power could meet all the needs of the U.S. Westinghouse has designed a modern power plant that is the safest yet. Their modern plant which has numerous built in safety controls could convince nations hesitant to use nuclear power because of safety, to reconsider. The AP1000 is Westinghouse’s power plant of the future, designed specifically to meet the safety requirements of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The recent history of nuclear plants has been spotless when compared with the numerous incidents involving coal mines of late. From 2000 to 2009 there have bee 311 coal mine deaths compared to four deaths which occurred at a nuclear plant in Japan. The four were killed by a non-radioactive steam leak. As power plant designers like Westinghouse become more innovative in safety, they are becoming better positioned to lead alternative energies progress.
2. Chevrolet & Tesla Motors- When determining second place, it was important to consider again which technologies can be used right now to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Chevrolet and Tesla Motors are tied at second, because both car companies are making vehicles that can meet the demands of drivers today. Chevrolet is producing a vehicle called the Chevy Volt that could easily get drivers to and from work each day using no fuel, and with no emissions. The Volt can travel 40 miles on electric only. The Volt can be plugged into a standard 120v outlet or the common 240v outlet used by washers or dryers for a faster charge. The Volt can also use fuel to power its electric generator for more efficiency and less fuel consumption. On long trips it’s difficult to find a place to recharge, and the Volt won’t leave you stranded because of its gasoline option. Because the Volt doesn’t require major infrastructure improvements it has a good chance of being well accepted by car buyers. Next up is Tesla, who’s already selling cars that are electric only and have a range of 236 miles per charge. The driving distance is why Tesla has made this list. Their cars are viable for everyday city use. They can be charged overnight much the way the Chevy Volt will be able to, and they will take you further on electric. When the infrastructure is built to charge electric vehicles anywhere, Tesla will already have cars on the road.
3. Pelamis Wave Power – Oceans cover 71% of the Earths surface and because of tidal forces they never stop moving. Harnessing the energy of the ocean’s waves is a reality, and the energy is already being used by countries like Scotland due to technology pioneered by Pelamis Wave Power. While wave power hasn’t been utilized as widely as wind power, or solar, wave energy is much more predictable than wind. Wave power is a consistent energy source that can provide constant energy today. It can meet the demands of small or large cities, depending on how many harvesting units are used. Of course with all natural energy harvesting, there is either land or ocean space required. Wind turbines or ‘wave energy converters’ can be unsightly, but at least oceans cover most of the Earth and finding an island or shallow waters far off coast is possible. Beacuse waves pack more power than wind, if Pelamis can better position itself against wind with refined technology, ‘wave energy converters’ could be the second most viable alternative energy source behind nuclear power plants.
4. C.En Ltd. – The most abundant fuel available today is Hydrogen, and it burns 100% clean. Hydrogen is not widely used as a fuel because it’s not easily stored and is highly combustible. Addressing hydrogen’s portability issues is key to realizing its huge potential. The company C.En Ltd. has researched and developed with the goal of eliminating the problems with Hydrogen, and profiting from its widespread usage. One day hydrogen could surpass all alternative fuel options due to abundance, less land usage, and no toxic waste, but more development is needed to bring it to the masses. C.En Ltd has developed a unique way to store hydrogen in light-weight multi-capillary arrays the size of a drinking straw. Each glass array holds 370 tiny glass capillaries which can contain hydrogen and are stronger than steel. 11,000 straw sized arrays can power a car for 240 miles. The innovation promises to at last make hydrogen safe for transport on roads, and reduce the weight of heavy hydrogen tanks. Since hydrogen is behind in the alternative energy race, C.En Ltd will have to catch up to the pack, but coming from behind will be no issue if their innovation delivers results.
5. Entech Solar – Enough of the suns energy hit the Earth per year to meet the yearly consumption needs of the world 20,000 times over. Even though the sun is always throwing energy in our direction, its power is costly to harvest, and impacts the environment because it often requires large portions of land. Reducing land impact, and cost is important in innovating new technologies that are viable for the mainstream. Entech has put their resources into designing a photovoltaic electricity and thermal capturing module that improves upon solar panels. By including thermal energy capturing ability in their modules, they have advanced solar technology slightly further. Their ThermaVolt technology harvests more energy from a single unit than solar panels, but not enough energy to make their innovation a contender for the top of this list. Entech’s ThermaVolt™ II module can reduce your energy costs at home, but solar energy will need to greatly improve before it powers entire cities. At least Entech is laying the ground work, and exploring the possibilities of the most logical alternative energy of the future. Entech has earned a spot on this list because they are attempting to address the critical concerns surrounding solar power, how big and costly solar panels are.