The rise of renewable energy and electric vehicles will lead to significant changes the energy system has not seen in more than a century – bringing both new challenges and new opportunities. Lux Research, a leading provider of tech-enabled research and advisory services, has released its annual report, “Foresight 2021: Top Emerging Technologies to Watch.”
The new research identifies and ranks 12 key technologies that will reshape the world. The technologies are chosen based on innovation interest scores from the Lux Tech Signal, a composite measure assembled from a variety of innovation data sources, along with input from Lux’s experts. In addition to highlighting the 12 key overall technologies, for the first time ever, this year’s report ranks the top five technologies for the energy industry.
“Unlike the fast-paced digital technologies disrupting many facets of everyday life, the energy industry is a slow-moving behemoth that may take decades to fully transform. However, companies no longer have the luxury of time, as climate policies continue to put pressure on the major industry players to mitigate their contributions to emissions and eventually shift toward carbon-neutral operations,” says Yuan-Sheng Yu, Director of Research at Lux Research.
The top five technologies energy leaders should look to in 2021 are:
1. Green Hydrogen – As the energy system transitions to renewables, green hydrogen plays a key role in creating a new global bulk energy carrier and can serve as both an energy and feedstock source for industrial processes.
2. Direct Air Capture – Removing CO2 directly from the air is still years from widespread adoption but will emerge as a valuable tool for organizations needing to offset Scope 3 emissions.
3. Long-Duration Energy Storage – The growing share of intermittent renewables in the electricity mix will require grid operators to store increasing amounts of excess renewable electricity for longer periods of time.
4. Fuel Cells – Hand in hand with green hydrogen, fuel cells enable the adoption of zero-carbon energy across the energy system and can eliminate emissions in hard-to-decarbonize sectors like long-haul trucking.
5. Battery Recycling – As batteries become more ubiquitous due to vehicle electrification, recycling is essential to addressing concerns about waste, lifetime emissions, and material shortages.
“Each year, when we are preparing our annual report, our clients ask us, ‘Which of these are most important for my industry?’” explains Yu. “The most critical tech innovations are not the same for every sector. Some technologies that did not make the top of our overall list may be transformational for specific industries. That’s why we’ve expanded this year’s report to cover these additional technologies.”