What is Clean Energy?
Clean energy refers to energy that comes from renewable, zero emission (non-polluting) sources. It may also be used to refer to energy saved by energy efficiency measures.
In order to reduce the climate impact that comes with traditional energy production, it is essential to find reliable and affordable ways to generate energy in new ways. An increasing number of clean energy technologies are mature, affordable, efficient and increasingly competitive.
Clean Energy Market Breakdown
The clean energy market is composed of a number of sources of renewable, non-polluting energy. The market also includes clean grid technology, which enables the efficient movement of power to where it is needed.
The amount of sunlight that strikes the earth's surface in an hour and a half is enough to handle the entire world's energy consumption for a full year. Partly due to its sheer abundance, solar energy is the fastest growing renewable energy source, with technological development also delivering ever more efficient solar power plants.
Emerging technologies in the solar segment include improved solar panel technologies, automated solar panel installation and solar financing.
A number of companies are also working to leverage AI to increase the performance of solar power systems.
Wind is another major source of clean energy. Emerging technologies in the space include offshore floating wind concepts as well as smart rotors that can adjust themselves to non-homogeneous wind flow.
While wind power is cost-effective in many regions, in others it needs to compete with other energy sources. However, many established companies and emerging startups are working on solutions to reduce the cost of electricity generated both by onshore and offshore wind farms.
The Global Wind Energy Outlook projects that by 2030 wind energy will offset 2.5 billion tons per year of carbon.
When managed correctly, nuclear energy can provide a safe and clean energy source. Fission technology is the splitting of a heavy, unstable nucleus into two lighter nuclei. Fusion technology, on the other hand, is the process of fusing two nuclei to produce energy.
Emerging technologies in the segment include small modular and microreactors. Fast neutron reactors that operate through closed nuclear fuel cycles are also witnessing a resurgence, as they hold the potential to increase the efficiency of nuclear energy while decreasing radioactive waste.
Right now, nuclear reactors generate close to one-third of the world’s carbon-free electricity.
Ocean and hydro
Ocean energy refers to energy produced by the rise and fall of tides. Hydro energy meanwhile harnesses the power of flowing water to generate electricity. Emerging technologies in ocean energy include wave energy converters, tidal energy converters and ocean thermal energy converters, which generate power from thermal differences between warmer surface seawater and colder deep seawater.
Currently, around 60 per cent of all renewable electricity is generated by hydropower. The sector produces about 16 per cent of total electricity generation from all sources.
Waste-to-energy is the process of generating energy in the form of electricity or heat from the treatment of waste. Technologies in this space include thermal processes such as mass-burn incineration and gasification. Nonthermal processes such as anaerobic digestion or landfill-gas recovery also exist.
By 2027, the waste-to-energy market is expected to be valued at over 50 billion U.S. dollars, growing at a CAGR of 4.6 percent from 2020 to 2027.
This class of clean energy refers to the energy derived from heat flows and gradients in underground temperatures. Emerging technologies in the segment use advanced mapping to find geothermal activity and carbon dioxide.
The United States leads the world when it comes to geothermal electricity generation. In 2021, there were geothermal power plants in seven states, producing about 16 billion kilowatthours, equal to about 0.4% of total U.S. utility-scale electricity generation.
Clean grid technology
Clean grid technology also forms a key part of clean energy technology, ensuring power is moved efficiently to where it is needed. To successfully develop usable renewable energy projects, access to high-voltage transmission lines is needed to move power from the project site to the consumer.
Smart grid technologies include devices and controlling systems that deliver and utilize digital information to optimize the delivery efficiency, reliability, and security of renewable power. Hardware such as long-duration energy storage and battery technology are also key components of this segment, as are smart grid management systems.
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