Breakthroughs to Increase Investment In Clean Energy

During our discussion on barriers to investment in clean energy and meeting with Brain Trust members, we came to know that:

Global inequality impedes access to and investment in clean and reliable energy in developing countries and low-income communities.

By 2040, what emerging breakthrough solutions could increase investment in clean and reliable energy?

Hi @Simon, @bernardsaw, @Febbie and @AnthonyMburu - What according to you are the emerging breakthrough solutions that could increase investment in clean and reliable energy in the coming two decades?

Hi @gyyang, @Shepard and @Irina - What breakthrough solutions could lead to increased investment in clean and reliable energy?

Hi @HLearner, @Benoit and @lauramatrax - You might have some inputs to share on breakthroughs that could lead to increased investment in clean and reliable energy. Please share your thoughts.

Hi @mounir, @adventureashr, @wkenworthy - What are your thoughts on breakthroughs that could lead to increased investment in clean and reliable energy.

Hi @Jesse_Nyokabi, @darlenedamm and @agval - In your views what breakthroughs could lead to increased investment in clean and reliable energy?

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Hi Sashi,
In terms of the energy storage strongly needed for more renewable energy systems, the production of hydrogen from renewables could be substantially increased by the development of much cheaper, more efficient, smaller electrolyzers, that could easily decentralise the production of this energy storage vector. However, most companies are betting on “the larger, the more efficient”.
In terms of ammonia (if that is how hydrogen is going to be moved in the future), the greatest breakthrough would be through the development of what is called “3rd generation” ammonia production systems. These do not employ electrolysis, but surface reactions that mix atmospheric nitrogen with water to produce ammonia directly. If these are accomplished, anyone could produce and store ammonia from whatever renewable energy, giving it a decentralised global penetration.


Thanks @agval for sharing these insights.

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Hi @Shashi - I am thinking about this question a little differently - for example, what changes in other industries might create larger markets for clean energy, which drive investment? I feel there is a lot happening in housing and construction right now. Billion Bricks for example, is building 3D printed houses in the Philippines that are solar-powered, and let’s people pay down their mortgages by selling excess energy. There is a huge demand for affordable housing for the poorest 1-2 billion people on the planet, and if that can also be met while converging housing with energy and finance innovations, it could be an interesting model forward.


Key technologies of large-scale wind power dispatch: Breakthroughs have been made in key technologies such as wind power forecasts, dispatch technology for optimal coordination of wind power and other power, and the application of wind power in peak load shifting. This has resulted in the achievement of online wind-power capacity assessment, wind power day-ahead, and intraday scheduling adjustments, and the evaluation of wind power grid integration performance.
Large-scale photovoltaic power grid integration and operation technologies: Through R&D of key technologies for photovoltaic power generation, including output forecasting, operation monitoring, and operation control, all-weather predictions, across different times and spaces based on numerical weather forecasts have been achieved. Closed-loop control of the power of large photovoltaic power stations has been realized. Rolling optimization of day-ahead and intraday scheduling of high penetration photovoltaic power grids has been made possible. Problems such as momentary output fluctuations have been resolved, a hierarchical photovoltaic power generation control system established, and the automatic and smooth regulation of the active and reactive output of photovoltaic power generation realized.
New energy-based generation output forecasting and operation monitoring: A technology system for forecasting and monitoring new energy-based generation output has been established. For new energy-based generation output forecasting, technology research and system development has been launched for projecting wind and photovoltaic power output based on numerical weather forecasts, and operation center for numerical weather forecasts established. The technology for short-term and super-short-term forecasting of wind power output has been acquired
Technologies for energy storage system operation: Technological breakthroughs have been made in promoting the application of intermittent access for energy storage systems. Quantitative models with energy storage technology incorporated to improve wind power access have been established, and control technologies for optimizing wide-area coordination for stored energy stations based on multivariable coordination and multi rule switching have been put forward. Through the development of demonstrative projects on wind and photovoltaic power storage and transmission, an understanding has been established of the characteristics of joint operation of wind, photovoltaic power storage and transmission, as well as the optimized deployment of energy storage systems, which has helped to promote the construction of an online monitoring platform for large energy storage stations and to enhance the coordinated operation of energy storage and intermittent power generation.

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Good thoughts

Great Insights Jesse! Thanks for sharing with us.

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There are two breakthroughs that have been ignored for the last decade on the hydrogen side. This is due to the rise of battery technology. One is the safe, highly compressed storage and release of hydrogen that is necessary for long-distance travel with fuels cells (or aviation). Many breakthroughs came during the hydrogen research explosion (pardon my pun) in the early 2000’s. MOFs and other materials were shown to be able to store hydrogen at levels equating to the densities at ultra-high pressures. I think funding died off in this area and I haven’t heard anything new in a decade. It is actually a good XPrize competition idea.

The other technological issue is the oxygen reduction catalysts for the fuel cells. They are a significant issue and the reason for abnormally low (but still high) efficiencies for fuel cells. I think they overcame some of the issues using high temperature fuel cells like solid oxide stuff but in that case you lose a lot of energy to heat.

Functionally there are probably just one or two breakthroughs needed to put fuel cells back on par with batteries. Of course hydrogen cost is one of those, and we’re about to see prices plummet for sustainable green electrolysis-based hydrogen. It would be nice to have fuel cell technology expanding. It would also be a good time for a fuel cell based XPrize since in 5 years I expect the market to lean in that direction.

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Coupling this with the electric grid ideas, I think a major breakthrough would be electric transport efficiencies. Making it cheaper and more efficient to transport massive electrical power across the country. Of course a national grid meant for such loads would be required. The demand will be there in the next decade as electrification takes hold in the auto sector. There isn’t enough grid capacity for everyone to have an electric car. Need breakthroughs in this area. A total redesign or a total refurbishment with new technologies.

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