Clean energy releases
energy without burning. Sun, water and windare examples of clean energy. Traditional fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas)
all burn to release energy that includes pollution and gasses which become
trapped in the atmosphere creating a greenhouse effect and the ensuing global
warming. Clean energy is
Clean, green and
renewable… remember that…
of these clean, green and renewable technologies are provided:
Solar energy: There are various patented technologies used to capture solar energy,
including both activeand passive technologies. Active technologies include
photovoltaic panels designed to transform sunlight into energy. Passive
technologies include for example building and construction systems, working
with shade and sunlight, orientation and building materials to capture (isolate
or reflect) the sun’s energy.
A search for
photovoltaic patents at the EPO yielded 2249 patents! The following are a few
sample 2014 PV patent applications, excluding the patented monitoring or
US2014032178 (A1)Systems and methods for solar photovoltaic
US2014021793 (A1)Inverter system for photovoltaic power
US2014015325 (A1)Systems for optimized solar power inversion
EP2675035 (A1)Photovoltaic power system with generation
modules and method of controlling output power thereof.
Hydro energy: This is water captured and transformed into electricity at
hydroelectric power plants using a dam. The technology subsumes channeling
water through a turbine which spins the water, in turn activating a generator
which produces electricity.
A search for
“hydro generators” patents at the EPO yielded 1684 patents. Here are a few of
US2014028028 (A1)Free-flow hydro-powered
EP2687715 (A1)Underwater hydro turbine generator
energy generation and storage structure
US2013187386 (A1)Deep water hydro-electric power system
Hydro (ocean) energy: The ocean produces two types of energy: mechanical
energy from tides and waves and thermal energy from the sun. Various systems
exist to convert the ocean’s thermal energy to electricity, including
vaporizing the warm surface waters of the ocean and using the vapor to activate
turbines and a generator. Tides are caused by the moon’s gravitational forces,
and waves are caused by the wind. Various technologies exist to harness the
mechanical energy of the ocean including dams that channel water to turbines,
which in turn feed into a generator that creates electricity.
A search on “ocean wave energy” yields 1233
patents! Here are a few of them:
NZ591329 (A)Improvements in
ocean wave energy extraction
NZ598207 (A)Wave energy conversion apparatus and method
Wave energy converter
CA2831560 (A1)Wave energy converter and transmission
Turbine device for generating electricity
from ocean currents
CA2801045 (A1)Ocean or sea
Wind energy:Windmills have been harnessing the wind’s energy for grinding grain and
pumping water for centuries in Holland and on windmill farms in the US. The
modern day windmill is a turbine used for generating electricity. Blades are
mounted on a shaft, high above the ground to capture less turbulent wind and to
feed into a generator to produce electricity.
centuries of design in this domain, a search for “wind turbine” at the EPO
yielded a whopping 26,212 patents! Here is a modern day selection, including a British hinge patent for turbine blades and a method of controlling pitch systems
for wind turbines:
Wind energy installation with hydraulic drive
Wind turbine, rotor blade components and
methods of making same
US2014023500 (A1)Vertical axis wind and hydraulic turbine with
Wind turbine, wind farm and method for
US2014017081 (A1)Method for controlling
pitch systems of a wind turbine
GB2504459 (A)Hinge for wind turbine
Clean, green and renewable… Yes!
But, there’s also bleeding between the categories….
Permeability that serves to obscure the clear differences in energy sources and
properties …. Energies called “clean” that are less sparkling, hardly
renewable, and a distant shade of green –bioenergy for example.
Bio energy: Biofuel and biopower is energy sourced from biomass,
also called plant fuel. Biomass fodder is the organic matter, derived from
wood, certain fast growing plants, algae, organic compounds from municipal waste and
agricultural residues, used for the production of biofuel,biopoweror biopropducts, otherwise typically made from petroleum (or hydrocarbons).
Biomass is indeed the color greenbecause it consists of organic green plant matter,
but it must be burned to produce energy and it is hardly renewable. In fact,
according to the ETC group: “Burning biomass can release more CO2 than fossil fuels… because much more biomass needs to be
burnt to achieve the same energy output” (p.74).
Biomass is “clean” too –as long as it consists of un-harvested and un
processed plants. But once burning to produce fuel, dry wood biomass fuel, for example,
ranks much higher than natural gas,
ethanol, jet fuel or motor gasoline in terms of the CO2 emissions it generates
when burning (ETC, 2011 – CO2 Emission from different fuel types, p.
So, careful now…
not everything that’s green is the same shade of green… nor is it necessarily
References ETC Group (2011).
Earth Grab: Geopiracy, the New Biomassters, and Capturing Climate Genes.
Oxford, UK: Pambazuka Press. European Patent