Nanotechnology key to energy storage, solar energy industries

The energy sector, including energy storage, solar power and hydrogen storage, will see great advances in the coming two decades, and nanotechnology will be a key driver of that progress. A new research report from the International Electrochemical Commission (IEC) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI) in Germany concludes that while many aspects of solar energy and energy storage are already influenced by nano-materials, their importance will increase dramatically. Extended battery storage capacity, cheaper solar cells, and longer-lasting batteries for electric cars are just some of the benefits nanotechnology will make possible.

nanotechnology-growth-world-solar-power-photovoltaics-energy-storage-batteries-EDIWeekly
Estimate of nanotechnology market size in billions US$. Source: IEC

While there are nanotechnology products already in use, the area of nanotechnology is still largely theoretical, with most areas in the “basic research stage,” the IEC report finds. However, we can expect to see market-ready applications in a range of fields including optics, precision engineering, analytics, chemistry, automotive and mechanical engineering, materials management, medical engineering, pharmaceuticals and biology. The US and the EU together constitute the biggest market for nanotechnology, accounting for more than one-third (35 per cent) of the worldwide market by 2015.

The greatest potential for nanotechnology is in the areas of solar power generation and energy storage, according to Dr. Björn P. Moller, project leader of this study at Fraunhofer ISI. He estimates that the share of fossil fuels in global energy consumption will drop to 75 per cent by 2035, while the share of non-hydro renewable energy, including wind, solar and biomass, will increase from 3 per cent to 15 per cent in the same period.

As renewables become crucial for the energy mix of the future, the most important issue for their deployment will be cost; unless they can compete with other energy sources they will not be implemented.

Nanotechnologies that will be of particular importance, both in energy storage and photovoltaics, include nanoelectrodes, nanocarbon materials, nanocomposites, nanocoatings, nanoparticulate coatings, nanofluids, and nanocatalysts.

In the energy storage area, the IEC report sees a “profound change” in future demand for products in the mobile, stationary and consumer markets. The quest for high-power large-scale energy storage in vehicles, which now focuses on lithium-ion batteries and hydrogen-based fuel cells, will lead to the development of new applications, and nanotechnology will play a major role in that development.

Nanotechnology will also drive market penetration of new consumer products containing low-cost but highly efficient photovoltaics, the report says. Products which today exist only in niche markets will achieve greater market penetration by 2035. These consumer products will include wearable technology, photovoltaics incorporated in windows to form curtain walls on buildings, and greater use of solar cells in roofing materials. A complete list of products that are likely to see greater market penetration can be found here.

Did you miss this?

Other Popular Stories

  • Utility offers customers Tesla Powerwalls as home energy storage market heats up
  • Nanotechnology can help clean up oil spills with super-absorbant carbon nanotube sponges
  • Wholesale trade saw healthy gains in 2014: Statistics Canada
  • GE Aviation opens new robotics facility in Quebec
  • 12 new electric vehicles by 2022 Renaut-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance commits 30% of overall production output
  • Federal government urged to speak up for nuclear at Paris climate talks
  • Diesel Outlook Not So Grim, Says GM Executive
  • Manufacturing sales off in November led by cars, chemicals
  • Global Warming Cap Could Save Economy Trillions
  • Volkswagen hit with $14.7 billion in fines, compensation over emissions scandal
  • Nanotechnology key to energy storage, solar energy industries
  • Danger Doc Robinson: researchers at RMIT University find vehicle vibrations may induce sleep in drivers
  • NASA Invests in Concept Development for Missions
  • New wind farm approved near Lake Huron shore
  • Study on the Effects of Space on Humans Has Interesting Results
  • Rapid growth of solar power a challenge for utilities
  • Truckers hopeful about progress on border security, emissions, after Washington summit
  • Canadian Mining Fueling the Alternative Power Boom
  • Major iron ore mine gets approval in Newfoundland & Labrador
  • Canada's wholesale sales rose 0.7 per cent in June, to $56.4 billion
Scroll to Top