5 Earth-Friendly Energy Innovations That Can Help Replace Fossils Sooner
In a time when we urgently need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, earth-friendly energy innovations emerge as the saviour that could reverse, or at least slow down the effects of climate change.
These innovations that use clean, renewable energy as a replacement for fossil fuel, have the potential to transform the way we power our households and economies.
While we cannot put a complete halt to climate change any time soon, these inventions give us the hope that if we work together, we might succeed in creating a brighter and greener future.
Here, I want to enunciate five such wonderful green innovations that I couldn’t help but love, and that could help us replace fossil fuels sooner.
Did you know you can benefit the planet just by walking? Yes, you heard that right. Pavegen is a company that creates clean, renewable energy using footsteps.
The idea came to be in 2009, when the founder Laurence Kemball-Cook, was walking through Victoria Station—one of the most crowded transportation centers in the UK. He noticed that the kinetic energy generated by the footsteps of the estimated 75 million passengers that use the station every year could be harnessed and used as clean energy.
Since then, Pavegen has come to be known as a breakthrough technology that can reduce our dependence on non-renewable energy.
How it works:
The initial prototype of the tiles had a generator that was stored right below, in the middle of the tile. When stepped on the center, a footstep compresses the tile to about 5 millimeters. This force acting on the electromagnetic generators creates electricity. The latest model is triangular, with three generators at its corners. Thus, the tiles generate electricity no matter where you step.
Each step generates 5 watts of electricity. When used in public areas like malls, schools, transport hubs, etc, a large amount of electricity is produced. To give you an idea: in 2012, when Pavegen installed tiles in West Ham station in London before the 2012 Summer Olympics, the electricity generated through the crowd’s steps sufficed to power 10,000 mobile phones for an hour. Pretty neat, isn’t it?
To get the latest info on the tiles and the places where you can find them, go here.
SmartFlower Solar Automation
We’re no strangers to sunlight being an abundant source of renewable energy. You also might have heard of and seen solar roof panels that power electronics and heating. But have you seen a giant solar sunflower that follows the trajectory of the sun in the sky, produces clean energy, and self-cleans? Probably not. Unless you’ve read about the SmartFlower before.
The idea was born from observing sunflowers—” They open, close and follow the sun for optimal energy conversion, we figured solar panels should too.” SmartFlower is a fusion of art, solar power, and practical functionality.
How it works:
SmartFlower is a simple, standalone device. It has 12 petals—or should we say panels—that slide open and close like a folding fan at sunrise and sunset, respectively. You can use it as a solo device to power a household, or in bulk to power commercial buildings.
The SmartFlower operates through the dual-axis tracking system. This system tracks the sun and directs the petals at a 90-degree angle to the sun. Because of this, it creates instant solar energy, nearly 40% more than what traditional solar panels generate.
The panels cool naturally with the passing air. This increases each panel’s productivity by 10%. SmartFlower also self-cleans every time it opens and closes—there are long brushes fixed under the outer edge of each petal that sweep the panel beneath while moving.
Depending on the location, a SmartFlower generates around 3,400 kWh – 6,200 kWh of electricity annually. Normally, it generates 4,000 kWh of electricity—that’s nearly half of the average annual electricity consumption of an American home.
You might’ve played with LEGO as a child, but you probably never thought that you’d use it to build real-life structures one day. This invention helps you do exactly that—it’s like real-life LEGO, but energy-efficient and sustainable.
Founded in 2010, after the devastating earthquakes in Haiti, the mission of Polyblocks is to ‘enable everyone to build a house’ and to ‘take care of the planet’. It also aims to create spaces that are affordable and liveable. The cost of building one Polyblock house is around EUR 50,000.
How it works:
Polyblocks are made of 90% filler, like sand and leftover materials from the mining industry, and 10% binder, i.e., an unsaturated polyester resin mixture made from recycled PET (poly-Ethylene terephthalate). This reduces dependence on cement, the production of which is highly energy intensive.
Building these blocks uses no mortar, glue, or water. Unskilled labor can build them, they are easy to transport, and can be plastered and painted on. The possibilities for expansion are unlimited.
Polycare has been involved in building in Namibia for years—they’ve constructed about 100 sustainable and affordable homes there. Polyblocks might be a game changer for developing countries. They’re easy to build, affordable, and can replace non-renewable energy.
To read about them further, visit here.
Cryptocurrency has transformed cross-border financial transactions and data security and helped foster business relations across global markets. The positive impact on developing economies is huge. But, that does not excuse the extremely harmful effects of crypto-mining on the environment.
We need development, but not at the cost of our planet. Eco-friendly cryptocurrency has emerged as an effective solution.
From Solarcoin and Nano, to Chia and Eosio, several eco-friendly cryptocurrencies have entered the global markets in the past few years. These cryptocurrencies improve transactions and business while minimizing their environmental impact.
How it works:
The major negative impact of crypto on the environment comes from ‘mining’. To put it simply, mining is the name given to the activity where ‘miners’ mint new crypto coins by solving complex math equations. They solved these complex problems using special systems that consume tonnes of energy to run.
To give you an idea, Bitcoin consumes 240 TWh of energy yearly. And that’s exactly how much energy Thailand—a nation with a population of 69.7 million—consumes yearly. You can see how energy-intensive and damaging the entire process is.
While, ‘eco-friendly’ cryptocurrencies counter this phenomenon by one, using renewable energy sources, and two, using Alternative Consensus Mechanisms.
Alternative Consensus mechanisms like Proof of Stake and Proof of Capacity use systems where mining is allotted to only one user who has the most stake in the currency and the user that has the biggest hard drive space, respectively.
Chia, an eco-friendly cryptocurrency, consumes only 0.16% of the total energy that Bitcoin does, yearly. With the number of greener currencies and their users increasing steadily every year, the future for eco crypto seems bright.
Shine Portable Turbine
Wherever we go on a day-long outing or go camping, we’re used to carrying power banks with us for charging our devices. But these batteries, that act as a storage mechanism for energy, are the end result of highly energy-intensive production processes.
What if we could harness clean energy, and store it to charge our devices? We could replace so much of the energy that’s consumed while making batteries. Shine Turbines can help you with exactly that.
How it works:
Shine Turbine is a mini wind turbine that you can carry around in your backpack. It looks like a water bottle when closed, and can be set up on a flat surface, to look like a small turbine, while you’re outside.
It weighs 3 lbs, requires 2 minutes to set up, is weather-resistant, and has a wind speed range of 8-28 mph. You can use it to charge 4 mobile phones at once. It automatically turns to face the wind.
All you have to do is set it up using the simple instructions provided, and let the wind turn the rotor blades. This causes the internal generator to spin, charge rapidly, and store energy. You then plug in a USB cord into the turbine and charge your device. It’s simple and efficient. If you’re an outdoor adventurer, you’ll love Shine.
To see how it works and learn more, visit here.
Final Take Away
Even though we have a long way to go in stopping and reversing the climate change caused by our excessive dependence on fossil fuels, these innovations are proof that we are constantly working toward this goal.
However, while innovators come up with new technologies that help the planet and us, we as individuals are also liable to help in whatever small way we can. Carrying a reusable bag to the market, quitting single-use plastic, and reducing our consumption of fast goods might be small steps, but when hundreds and thousands of us do them together, we are creating a wave of change that could one day turn over the effects of climate change for good.
I hope that all of us continue in our efforts to live a greener, happier life.