Nanowires are Hot

by Griffin Merians

A study conducted in Taiwan and published in Nanoscale Research Letters, found that the use of silicon nanowires can be used to improve solar thermal energy efficiency. Solar energy is the most abundant source of renewable energy on our planet, and using thermal energy to capture this energy could play a key role in increasing our use of this form of alternative energy. Solar thermal energy is comparatively inexpensive, easy to implement, and efficient compared to many other forms of energy, and using silicon nanowires could be the latest breakthrough in improving this efficiency. Silicon and silicon nanowires are used extensively in photovoltaic electrical energy generation, but have not traditionally been used extensively in thermal energy collection. However, new research into the thermal properties of silicon nanowires has found they are significantly more efficient in thermal conversion than traditional silicon plates. Continue reading

Growing Energy: an Analysis of the Role Forests Play in Europe’s Renewable Energy

by Griffin Merians

Picture yourself walking through a forest, surrounded by green foliage, the gentle creak of swaying trees, and… energy? Forest and biomass energy are key sources of renewable energy, however, according to an article published in the journal, BioResources, not all nations are equally blessed in this regard. The study used a cluster analysis approach to divide 27 countries into 9 “clusters” based on factors such as forest cover, annual wood production, the amount of energy consumed, greenhouse gas emissions, energy dependence, and expenditure on research and development. Continue reading

Clean Mountain Air and Keeping the Lights On

by Griffin Merians

Mountains are home to some of the most pristine and beautiful places on our planet but life often isn’t easy for the people that call them home, particularly when it comes to having enough energy to keep the lights on. Research published by Nicholas Katsoulakos and Dimitris Kaliampakos in the 91st issue of Energy Policy finds policies that encourage decentralized energy systems and renewable energy may be the key to addressing energy poverty and reducing costs for mountainous regions. The research conducted in the mountainous regions of Greece sought to identify the most viable energy solutions with consideration for key factors including altitude, remoteness, spatial and aesthetic restrictions, energy poverty alleviation, and employment invigoration. The analysis found that at high altitudes (above 800 meters), 8 out of 10 families experienced energy poverty in that they spend over 10% of their annual income on energy costs. The study sought to find the optimum energy mix or optimum balance of different methods of energy production to help alleviate energy poverty in these high altitude regions.  Continue reading