A review online of the keywords ‘Energy, Storage and Conservation’ has revealed little in the way of modern relevant research and development. I hoped to write an up to date article on this subject but became disappointed by the apparent lack of information on current R&D. There are numerous papers from many different technical authorities, Universities and Researchers, but they are dated well back on the timeline.
Most of the articles harked back to the last century. Now that is not too long ago, but putting it that way does have an impact. Most of the academic papers I found were pre-1999, and many were back into the 1970s. What happened here? The buzz phrase back in the ‘save the world’ hippie culture was “Energy Conservation” and the research focussed on that. How to make our homes and offices more energy efficient. But perhaps in this century more exciting fields of research involving novel ways to generate electricity have overtaken the research fields in terms of funding attractiveness, so conservation and storage has fallen by the wayside.
From the research available it seems there was one light shining in this field in the United Kingdom, and that was the School of Engineering at Warwick University in the persons of researchers D. Zhou, C.Y. Zhao and Y. Tian. Their 2012 paper on thermal energy storage with phase change materials (PCMs) in building applications was the latest publication I could find on this subject.
This is a sad state of affairs when in all practicality it is not the best model to produce electricity abundantly and allow the energy to go to waste. We need a holistic approach to energy production and conservation that looks at the whole package, the most efficient ways to generate power and then the most efficient ways to store and retain that energy. Any proposal for electricity generation must include a proposal, just as detailed and researched, for the conservation and storage of that energy.
We are aware of new developments occurring in this area, particularly in battery technologies, however, not only is more research and development needed in the area of energy conservation and storage but a mechanism to bring together the different specific fields of research is required, so that the integration of these developing technologies can produce viable and usable conservation and storage solutions.
(Image courtesy of Rebel Energy, Ireland. www.RebelEnergy.ie)