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Posted: February 21, 2007
Nanotechnology key to energy efficiency
(Nanowerk News) The energy mix of the future will be more regenerative and sustainable. The generation and storage of renewable energy will be the fastest growing sector in energy market for next 20 years. according to helmut kaiser consultancy, the consulting company in science research and new technologies
The market volume of renewable energy worldwide will increase from US$ 95.8 billion in 2007 to US$ 124.4 billion in 2010 and reach US$ 198.1 billion in 2015. These figures and developments are based on the whole value chain.
The energy efficiency will increase by 1 to 3 per cent per year and there will be more then 120 000 direct employments by 2010 and two times more indirect.
The major market driving forces come from three aspects.
Climate change and economical damage depending on the country between 1 and 5 per cent of the gross domestic product.
The governmental policy and social awareness. In many countries, environmental protection and energy security are the key political concerns which favour the use of clean energy. In most countries governments sponsor programs for using hydropower, wind power and biomass as well as set regulations & standards for emission so that biofuel, solar energy, hydrogen based energy and other environmental friendly energy are adopted.
Second is the pricing factor. Whereas the oil and gas price is rising in the long term and extremely volatile, the price for renewable energy is stably going downward. The material benefits will naturally attract more and more industrial and residential consumers.
Both of these two driving forces are finally based on the development of technology. Only when the technology enables large scale production and competitive costs, is the commercial application possible. Nanotechnology and nano-bio-info converging technologies will be the key enabling technology for renewable energy market during next 20 years. Nanotechnology and converging technologies can modify the molecular structure so that more energy can be stored, transformed and utilised. Their application will largely improve the performance-cost ratio of solar energy, biofuel and fuel cell. These sectors will also experience the fastest growth thanks to technological development.
Although fuel cell stores energy rather than produces energy, it plays a major role in the future renewable energy industry. Through minimisation, fuel cell can store huge amount of energy within a small volume so that the energy can be easily transported, distributed and utilised in various locations. This will solve the biggest problem of utilising renewable energy, namely the remoteness between energy production and application. Nanotechnology is undoubtedly one of the key technologies to commercializing fuel cell.
As to the regional development, Europe and North America are today's leaders in technology and in market share. Yet, developing countries such as China, India and Brazil are catching up rapidly, or even becoming leaders in certain sector. On the one hand, these countries' industrial boom requires more energy supply; on the other hand, the huge land area and sufficient natural energy resources in these countries provide ideal conditions for utilising renewable energy. Last but not least, renewable energy will also give easy access to their population in the rural area, where no sophisticated energy infrastructure is present. With the substantial support from government, Asian developing countries will become the fastest growing market of renewable energy in next decade.