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By Nicholas Barrow

The future of renewable sources of energy

Never before in the history of humankind has there been such a plethora of fresh and intriguing ways to not only harness energy but to complete said task in an efficient manner. Since the 10th century, humans as a collective species have struggled to improve and modify the way renewable energy can be collected. While the project of harnessing energy in safer, more efficient ways is consistently being improved upon, the future certainly holds far superior, more economical ways to collect and distribute renewable energy. Here are but a few examples of what the future entails for the energy business:

Floating solar panels

While sounding like something out of a distant future, floating solar panels have not only proved to be possible, they are in fact already in use. Since the beginning of 2011, the French company Ciel & Terre has been developing large-scale floating solar panels that primarily work on large bodies of water. While the technology behind such a device is difficult to comprehend, the benefits that it delivers are fairly easy to understand. This water-based solar panel system is more cost-effective and straightforward than its ground-mounted counterpart and is much more effortless to install or dismantle. Some further benefits include being economically friendly, environmentally safer, and fully recyclable. Only two known locations have installed this new system, one being in Berkshire, England, in 2014, and the other on Japan's Yamakura Dam in 2016. Yet there are other countries such as Australia, India, and Italy who have all taken an interest in this new form of renewable energy.

Solar energy from space

One of the most promising advancements in creating better renewable energy comes from JAXA, otherwise known as the Japanese aerospace agency. Since 2008, they have dedicated their resources to discovering new ways to transmit electricity without the use of wires. While information about the project is scarce, test results have been extremely promising. One test conducted in 2015 successfully transmitted 10 kilowatts of electricity 500 meters away from its point of origin. Albeit 10 kilowatts might only be enough to power a set of conventional kitchenware appliances, the test was still a milestone in terms of the distance the electricity was able to be transferred. JAXA hopes to be able to transmit energy from orbiting solar panels as soon as 2030 and hopes that the environmental and economic benefits keep this renewable energy a mainstay for years to come.

An eco-friendly floating house

First the floating solar panels, and now an environmentally and economically friendly floating house; who said renewable energy can't be fun? In 2015, renowned Italian architect Giancarlo Zema designed a 100-square-meter floating house unit that would be made up of 98% recycled material. In addition to being economically friendly, the floating house would come with 60 square meters of photovoltaic panels that would routinely generate around 4 kWp of internal electricity, which is around half of the total energy produced by the average house in the United States today. While not an immediate source of energy, these house units would over time unequivocally be more efficient both economically and environmentally.

Concluding thoughts

For years, humankind has looked to coal and the powers of both wind and water to sustain renewable energy. But in a time where technology is ever-advancing at an increased rate, better and more efficient methods of conserving and collecting energy naturally will come to light. The three fairly new advancements presented will hopefully not only shape how humans look at energy but how we look at the world as well.

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