Solar and Wind Power is About to Get a Huge Upgrade

A world where fossil fuels are made obsolete by solar, wind and other renewables isn’t just a dream–it’s an attainable reality. Yes, even in the oil-addicted United States.

New developments in both the solar and wind industries indicate that the old standby criticisms of renewable energy technologies are crumbling one by one. Those with a vested interest in downplaying these energy-harvesting tools often say they’re unreliable. After all, you can’t collect solar power at night, or use a wind turbine to create electricity when there’s no wind. Or can you?

There’s strong evidence to suggest that the next generation of solar panels and wind turbines will make this common justification for fossil fuels a thing of the past.

GE is working on a new wind turbine that integrates energy storage, eliminating the need to find somewhere to put energy generated on really windy days. In this way, a continuous flow of energy could be guaranteed, without resorting to coal-fired backups. A May report from Quartz explains more:

The 2.5-MW windmill is something of a technological leap in an industry where turbines have gotten bigger and bigger but not necessarily smarter. The turbine’s software captures tens of thousands of data points each second on wind and grid conditions and then adjusts production, storing electricity in an attached 50 kilowatt-hour sodium nickel chloride battery. If, say, a wind farm is generating too much electricity to [be] absorbed by the grid—not an uncommon occurrence in gusty west Texas—it can store the electricity in the battery. When the wind dies down, the electricity can be released from the battery and put back on the grid.

And don’t worry, the ever-growing solar industry isn’t about to be left behind. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin are working on a new type of solar panel “that can simultaneously generate power from sunlight and store power reserves for later, all within a single device.” UW engineer Hongrui Jiang describes his unique technology:

The top layer of each photovoltaic cell is a conventional photo electrode, converting sunlight into electrons. During that conversion process, the electrons split off into two directions: most electrons flow out of the device to support a power load, while some are directed to a polyvinylidene fluoride polymer (PVDF) coated on zinc oxide nanowires. The PVDF has the high dielectric constant required to serve as an energy storage solution.

“When there’s no sunlight, the stored power will come back through the nano wires to power the load,” said Jiang.

Although Jiang’s energy-storing solar panels are currently less efficient than those currently seen on rooftops around the world, the research team feels that it’s only a matter of time before the design can be perfected. When that happens, home solar systems will become even more convenient, eliminating the need for complicated wiring to a bulky battery or supercapacitor. It would also allow engineers to design buildings that rely on the outside power grid even less than current systems.

Although oil may be a dwindling commodity, one thing we know for sure is that there’s plenty of sun and wind to go around. With technological advancements like these headed for market soon, the dream of 100 percent renewable energy is more realistic than ever. According to many of the world’s most prominent energy experts, the only barriers that remain “lie in the realms of public policy and political will, as well as in finance, market development, and business development.”

h/t Grist


Image via Thinkstock

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Ruth R.
Ruth R.about a year ago

Thank You! Good post!

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Spirit Spider
Spirit Spider2 years ago

Solar solar solar

Jim W.
Jim Wiegand2 years ago

Everyone should read this article because this tragic scenario plays out everyday all over the world but witnesses are rarely present. This is the wind turbine path of extinction I keep talking about..........Birdwatchers see rare swift killed by wind turbine

Bird safe wind turbines like the FloDesign wind turbine and others will not be ready for years. Most of this problem is deliberate. These bird safe turbines will be delayed for as long as possible because the industry is still making a fortune off their product line of killers. Killers that have been protected with bad science, fraudulent studies, and corrupt politicians.

In the meantime this tragic scenario plays out everyday all over the world but witnesses are rarely present. This is the wind turbine path of extinction I keep talking about. It will happen to dozens of species in the near future.

The public has to get more involved otherwise this highly destructive business will never be changed.

Margarita G.
Margarita G.2 years ago


Ernie Miller
william Miller2 years ago


Ernie Miller
william Miller2 years ago


Jim W.
Jim Wiegand2 years ago

Cont'd............To the best of my knowledge the FWS went bad in the 1980's when the turbine slaughter to eagles started and over half of the remaining condors disappeared soon after the turbines went up in the Tehachapi region. This same pattern has also been repeated with the endangered whooping cranes.

It has taken 30 long years and finally the color of wind energy is changing from green to swindle. The growing numbers of people against this industry come from all groups and affiliations across the world. The reasons for this backlash are from the awareness that fraud is what built this industry and the reality of what has taken place. This simmering backlash is not going away and it will at some point detonate.

Jim W.
Jim Wiegand2 years ago

What medication is this writer Beth on? Today's wind turbines will always provide just a small supplement to the grid at an incredible price to the environment..............species extinction. I will add a few words from my experience as a wildlife biologist reviewing wind industry studies and observing an obvious pattern of corrupt behavior from our Government agencies.

Wind energy isn’t about solving an environmental problem, a Middle East problem or an economic problem. It’s about fleecing taxpayers out of hundreds of billions of dollars and doing whatever it takes to pull this off. Like rigging studies to hide a horrendous avian mortality problem, rigging studies to hide cumulative impact to species, rigging studies to hide declining property values, rigging studies to hide the infra-sound problems, embellishing energy projections, paying off influential people, rigging renewable portfolio standards, changing laws to perpetuate their fraud, and suckering millions with propaganda filled with false hope.

Unfortunately all this bad behavior has put us on a rapid path of species extinction. I can not just sit back and watch our wildlife agencies, our leaders, and conservation groups lie about this fact while rare species are getting slaughtered off by turbines. This is why I do what I do and this is exactly why I am exposing the USFWS, the Interior Department or anyone else for their part in this corrupt process. To the best of my knowledge the

Cathy T.
Cathy T.2 years ago

Until I see BLADE-LESS turbines that are bird and bat friendly, I'm not buyin' it. The wind industry in its current incarnation is just as corrupt as Big Oil and just as destructive - And guess who owns most of the giant, corporate wind utility installations (deceptively coined ' wind farms')? Yup, the very same players.