10 Smart Cleantech Solutions to Counter Global Warming

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In this article, you’ll learn about 1) the problem of global warming and the role of Cleantech, 2) challenges to Cleantech adoption and investment, and 3) 10 examples of Cleantech Solutions to counter global warming.


According to predictions, it is believed a temperature rise of more than 2 degree centigrade is close to unavoidable and this in turn, would cause more severe weather events, precipitation changes, ocean acidification, disappearing coral reefs and sea level rises.

It is obvious that renewables should take up the whole share of the international energy supply market to steer clear of the 2 degree centigrade global warming while avoiding considerable water pollution, poor human health, unreasonably high expenses, nuclear weapon proliferation and perilous waste for generations.


Lack of a clear framework

To draw continuous degrees of investment into budding clean technology industries at the minimum possible cost requires clarity to a considerably detailed degree with respect to the regulatory framework. Accomplishing that in the context of a lucid energy picture – which was concurred on across political parties – to adopt renewables and introduce the smart grid over the subsequent decades, would cause investment and innovation in these segments to thrive.

Speeding up introduction of business models that transfer solutions to market

To achieve acceleration of progress, it is necessary to examine the conditions enclosing our small and large solution providers. We will have to look at an extensive collection of novel cleantech solutions speedily scale up during the course of the next one to three decades. Comprehension of these innovation processes is essential so as to speed up growth of the “good” in harmony with the creation of national climate goals and carbon caps that look into a more speedy reduction of the “bad.”

One must take up the challenge to convey energy solutions in ways that are far smarter and innovative with the hopes of decentralized sustainable energy instead of the centralized unsustainable energy of the present.

Continuous cost-cutting of chief technologies is another challenge that needs to be addressed.


#1. Efficient Building Envelope

This comprises all the constituents of a building that distinguishes the external environment from the building’s interior. This includes roofing, insulation, windows and external walls. Technological progress with respect to envelope materials has resulted in a decrease in building operating expenses. Some examples are reflective surfaces, efficient windows, air sealing and high-performance insulation. As per an estimate from The International Energy Agency, cooling and heating loads all over the world can be decreased by 40 percent solely by utilizing cost-effective building envelope technologies. The European Union, United States and Canada are the leading markets of these materials, which are utilized worldwide.

One key leader in producing cost-effective building matter is Johns Manville. This Berkshire Hathaway company’s insulation materials are utilized in retrofit as well as new construction in all kinds of sectors, including residences, hotels, medical centers, warehouses and colleges. Cool roofing products from the same company for existing as well as new commercial roofs can decrease building cooling needs and solar heat gain while ensuring flawless incorporation of solar photovoltaic into the roofing system.

#2. Demand Response

Demand Response or DR is a method that enables utilities to give customers incentives and information that persuade them to decrease energy usage at particular times of the year or day. This provides customers with more power over their energy utilization and expenses, while giving grid operators valuable solutions, such as decrease in load during peak periods in the day when grid dependability is compromised, or electricity is costly. The United States is at the top of the international demand response market, with plans mostly established by operating entities of regional grids, called ISOs (Independent System Operators). As of 2013, the majority of demand response programs were concentrating on industrial and commercial customers. One example is EnerNOC, a principal demand response provider, and which has a contract with Salt River Project, an Arizona utility to handle a 50 MW network of commercial, institutional and industrial facilities utilizing the company’s DR technology.

Decrease in peak load can cause decreased emissions owing to the fact that peaking plants are less productive than other system plants. What’s more, when there is considerable electricity demand, distribution and transmission equipment are usually less productive, leading to more system losses. There are also financial advantages with demand response, as these enable customer compensation for giving grid operators valuable service. By reducing peak demand, DR moderates energy expenses for all.

#3. Industrial CHP

Industrial Combined Heat and Power (CHP) utilizes a single fuel, frequently natural gas, to co-develop heat and electricity for utilization in industrial operations, typically on-site. Out of 82 GW of CHP installed in the United States, 75 GW is industrial CHP. CHP can be utilized extensively within the industrial sector, though it is specifically quite suited for industries with steady, considerable thermal loads such as chemicals, forest products, pharmaceuticals and refining. The world’s first commercial power plant, namely “Thomas Edison’s Pearl Street Station” and situated in Manhattan, was a Combined Heat and Power plant. The majority of CHP utilizes natural gas, causing lower emissions than certain grid power. Other industries utilizing CHP incorporate the forest products industry, which utilizes a large degree of wood waste (such as spent pulping liquors, sawdust and bark) available at no cost. In addition, Industrial CHP enhances dependability by keeping industries insulated from disruptions in power supply.

#4. Smart grid

Communications networks pertaining to the smart grid include hardware and software that facilitate the communication between and acquiring of data from smart grid technologies such as advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). Energy consumers, energy service companies and utilities all over the country are moving to grid communications networks to assist them with monitoring energy utilization, distributed generation, integration of renewables and improved grid balancing. Gridco’s Grid Management and Analytics Platform is one example of this kind of software that facilitates analytics, data collection and remote control of the grid. With the emergence of more advanced software solutions in this field, one can expect the industry to experience greater adoption and considerable growth. Data analytics and management solutions pertaining to the smart grid allow utilities to better manage their energy efficiency programs, incorporate more changeable renewable resources, and reduce the requirement for electricity produced by peaking high-emitting power plants. The annual expenditure for smart grid analytics at the international level is expected to be $3.8 billion by 2020 from just $0.7 billion in 2012.

#5. Voltage and volt-ampere reactive optimization

Voltage-VAR Optimization or VVO is a utility application enabled by the smart grid. The VVO directs power flow in the distribution system to boost reliability and efficiency, decrease losses in distribution, and accommodate fresh power flows, an example of which is those having their origins from distributed generation. VVO gives more accurate voltage control, decreasing the quantity of power required. An impact assessment carried out by the National Electric Manufacturers Association stated that VVO can decrease losses relating to distribution line by 2 percent to 5 percent. In addition, a DOE study of VVO came to the conclusion that it was possible to decrease losses from distribution line by over 5 percent. VVO-caused efficiency would result in evaded generation emissions. In addition, VVO technology addition assists with enhancing overall grid performance. Through the utilization of dynamic control, VVO enables distribution lines to have reduced overall voltage without affecting service quality.

#6. Electric vehicles


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PEVs or plug-in electric vehicles are coming up as a key vehicle platform not just in the U.S. but at the international level as well. These vehicles are fully or partly powered by rechargeable batteries. They include plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) examples of which are the Toyota Prius Plug-In and the Chevy Volt which incorporate both a gasoline-powered engine and a battery, and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) examples of which are the Tesla Model S and the Nissan Leaf. PHEVs usually have electric-only ranges of approximately 20-40 miles, following which they function on gasoline just like regular hybrid vehicles. On the other hand, BEVs usually have ranges of approximately 100 to 250 miles. In spite of the fact that sales of PEVs are comparatively small, the market is increasing at a rapid pace. The sales increased from about 52,000 in 2012 to below 100,000 units the next year, in the U.S.

PEVs decrease transportation-associated greenhouse gas emissions. This is even the case when looking at power plant emissions connected to vehicle charging. This advantage differs on the basis of the power generation mix. However, there is a net gain even in regions with considerably high electricity-associated emissions. Overnight PEV charging could also assist with boosting utilization of low-carbon off-peak generation. With complete, bi-directional grid integration, PEVs may also be utilized for energy storage, delivering functions that support grid such as load shape smoothing, power quality solutions, renewable integration and peak shaving. With the increase in size of the PEV fleet, the capacity to aggregate and supervise vehicles in a coordinated manner has the possibility to develop a major energy storage source.

#7. Anaerobic digestion

Anaerobic digestion or AD may be defined as a process through which waste matter such as industrial/municipal wastewater, food scraps and livestock manure is acted upon by microorganisms in an environment bereft of oxygen, breaking it down into a blend of methane and other gases, also termed “biogas”. In contrast to waste-to-energy generated from municipal solid waste, AD happens without incineration and depends on organic matter’s natural breakdown into biogas. Different kinds of digesters can be utilized, ranging from lagoons at animal farms that are covered, to above ground concrete or steel tanks. After that, the biogas can be burned to produce electricity on-site. What’s more, biogas can be purified and converted into a substance of pipeline-quality including CNG or Compressed Natural Gas for vehicles.

In the United States, anaerobic digestion is commonly utilized to provide power for wastewater treatment plants, or with agricultural waste. AD is frequently used along with CHP for cost-effective heat and electricity production. The heat generated may be utilized on-site by wastewater treatment facilities and farms for heating digesters, drying biosolids, and hot water.

Co-digestion involves the addition of grease, oils and fats to wastewater or manure to increase energy production. In addition to reduced carbon dioxide, municipalities that utilize co-digestion biogas facilities additionally gain from the use of leftover bio solids as fertilizer, and from decreasing the quantity of grease, oils and clogging fats in their waste streams. Another advantage is that the quality of water can be improved by way of ridding groundwater of disease-causing bacteria.

#8. Commercial and residential building solar power

Solar Power Plant

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Solar PV (photovoltaic) power systems transform sunlight straight into electricity. PV panels or modules generate direct current, which in turn gets transformed to alternating current (grid-compatible) by way of an inverter. Flat-plate PV modules are typically put up on the roofs of commercial and residential buildings. The two key PV materials utilized in modules are thin films an example for which is cadmium, and crystalline silicon. The former is frequently utilized for commercial and residential buildings owing to its associated smaller footprint and higher efficiency. Apart from supportive policies in a number of states and the improving situation of PV economics, the progress of commercial and residential solar has been stimulated by the availability of third-party funding options and enhancements in sales channels, through which owners of buildings purchase the output or lease the systems by way of a long-term PPA (power purchase agreement). The industry has succeeded in enhancing its access to capital. One example is SolarCity which in recent times earned the reputation of being the first solar company to achieve the task of securitizing its distributed solar assets. This cleared the way for lower cost solar and more abundant project capital. In the period of the last two years, approximately 200,000 U.S. businesses and homes set up rooftop solar systems (approximately 3 GW capacity), which is the same as 1 percent of the generation capacity of an American coal plant.

Multiple studies have pointed out the degree to which solar energy can successfully decrease carbon emissions. A study carried out by NREL and termed “The Western Wind and Solar Integration Study” analyzed the outcome of running the Western Interconnect with high concentrations of solar and wind. With the Western Connect gathering 33 percent of electricity from solar and wind, the study discovered that CO2 emissions can be reduced by the equivalent of 260 to 300 billion pounds each year, or 29 to 34 percent.

#9. Marine power

These technologies produce electricity from the kinetic energy enclosed in moving water such as tides, currents and waves. Wave power is created by taking advantage of variations in wave height to produce electricity. One example is a buoy tied to the sea floor. With the up and down movement of the buoy with the waves, the relative movement between the latter and the part secured to the sea floor can be gathered to propel a generator. In areas where the undersea topography is suitable, the daily currents which ocean tides produce can be utilized to get underwater turbines moving. In areas where the tidal ranges are huge, barrages can be constructed across estuaries. Water is permitted to flow in along with the mounting tide and give out by way of low-head hydro turbines, with tide recession. Probable sea conditions, ocean depth and nearness to shore are all factors in the making of marine power technologies.

As per figures from April 2014, FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) issued six initial permits for 2,200 MW of electricity and permits were awaited for 15 projects for a total of close to 3,900 MW. The Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy Project based in New York City is one permitted project expected to be over in 2015 and which will produce 1 MW of electricity.

#10. Biomass power

Power plants have been using solid biomass as fuel for many decades. The main technology is direct combustion. Here, biomass is burned inside a boiler to produce high-pressure steam, which is utilized to get a steam turbine-generator set moving. Included among solid biomass resources are dedicated energy crops (herbaceous and woody), agricultural and logging remains and forest products residues such as spent pulping liquors, bark and sawdust. As per statistics of a year or two ago, biomass in the U.S. makes up approximately 5 percent of the total principal energy production, split around 50-50 between bio fuels production and heat/electricity generation.

A biomass power plant is comparatively costly to construct when compared to plants using comparable technology for other fuels. This is owing to the fact that biomass plants are usually smaller, but still call for huge capital expenses. Yet, when fuel costs are favorable, biomass provides a practical alternative to electricity bought form the grid, or fossil fuels. Biomass is additionally, a kind of base load energy. One of the biggest woody biomass plants is situated in Nacogdoches County, Texas. It is powered by materials acquired with a radius of 75 miles from the plant, and it generates 100 MW of base load power.

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