Disruptive Tech Property Impact – Renewable Electricity

20130611-182559.jpg The final post in the series of posts on the impact of the McKinsey & Company 12 disruptive technologies on the property industry in Australia. The final one potentially the best one – renewable energy.

There are the obvious ones about offsite renewable energy reducing the grid carbon intensity, making buildings more carbon efficient and changing the carbon equation for the viability of trigeneration but what about the non-obvious ones?

As mentioned in the McKinsey article distributed energy could be a big driver for renewable energy in our built environment. If we see a shift towards the distribution of renewable energy to a scale where we have to install a certain amount of renewable energy in our new developments or even in our existing communities we are likely to see more larger scale PV installations appearing. Have a look out of your window next time you are a few floors up and whatever large empty roof you can see will likely have PV installed over the next 20 years.

A drive towards more distributed renewable energy will also likely see a drive into investment in research of micro or nano renewable energy systems. Our current technologies in wind power have been shown through various studies around the world to not work effectively in our urban environments so we will need to rethink wind power to see distributed wind power. Maybe advanced materials will create energy producing carpets or advanced genomics will produce ultra efficient biofuels or algae in buildings. But our current wind power tech wont get us there.

We will also see a continued development in PV systems. I don’t think we will see massive increases in cell efficiency above 25% but we will continue to see new applications of PV technologies such as thin film PV that can be printed onto flexible materials. Or technologies that reduce the energy needed to produce PV cells or reduce the amount of material needed in manufacture. Maybe in the future we will see advanced material technology creating molecule level PV systems that can be embedded into glass creating solar energy without changing the view or daylight through the glass itself.

Maybe the biggest changes will come not from our traditional renewable sources such as wind, solar, tidal or wave but from other sources of renewable energy such as converting the kinetic energy of footfall, greater recovery of energy from the braking systems on our lifts, or cars or trains. Or capturing more energy from our waste streams such as methane from sewage or energy from waste food.

Its been an interesting process thinking about how disruptive technologies could impact our property industry. I wonder what Future Property 2030 will look like.

2 Comments on “Disruptive Tech Property Impact – Renewable Electricity

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