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

  • Building permits shot up in May
  • No immediate car tariffs after U.S. trade meeting; at stake $350 billion in autos and parts imported to the U.S.
  • U.S. and Mexico resume talks for NAFTA auto agreement — door open for Canada to return to negotiations
  • Siemens awarded largest ever contract for onshore wind turbines
  • Propane suppliers condemn Ontario government's support of natural gas expansion
  • Boeing and Bombardier Dispute Intensifies, Canada and U.K. Pressure Boeing to Resolve Conflict
  • Ontario Faces Uncertain Future with Carbon Tax
  • Little support in auto industry for Canada/Korea free trade deal
  • Manufacturing sales up in November, government scraps duties on imported food ingredients
  • Nexen Energy Expansion Announced
  • Compact reactor could make fusion dream a reality
  • Airbus and Bombardier Finalize Deal
  • Ontario wants to be heard at Enbridge pipeline hearings
  • SpaceX-1 Launches Falcon 9
  • Canadian Solar to supply solar mega-projects in Ontario and Turkey
  • Industrial chemicals producers report second-most profitable year
  • Government urges aerospace innovation, adoption of new technologies
  • More engineers, fewer arts grads needed in Canada: CIBC
  • General Motors Planning Autonomous Vehicles Sans Controls
  • Transit groups call Ontario budget a step in the right direction
Scroll to Top