100% Renewable Energies
We are on the verge of an industrial quantum leap that will see a reduction in the inefficient use of fossil fuels such as coal and oil and the rise of alternative energy technologies. Modern energy generation plants are now twice as efficient as they were just a few decades ago. Alternative energies such as solar and wind energy have long since been developed to maturity, and the costs of alternative forms of energy are falling steadily.
former Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and patron of the "Germany has unlimited energy" initiative.
Can Germany meet 100% of its energy needs using renewable energies?
To answer the question as to what a reliable energy system in Germany based up to 100% on renewable energy sources for supplying of electricity and heat might look like, we must first define which energy sources are worth considering for this purpose from today's perspective. At present, converters of wind, sunlight, biomass and water into electricity and converters of sunlight and biomass into heat have reached technical maturity. When it comes to achieving one hundred per cent of energy supplies from renewable energies, these are the most important fundamental processes for supplying energy. Due to the fluctuation and unpredictability of energy production using sunlight and wind, storage systems are required. Here too, there are various alternatives, which need to be intelligently combined: Pumped storage power plants and batteries as storage batteries as well as thermal stores of differing sizes based on water as a storage medium. However, the central, most important and most flexible form of storage is the conversion of electricity into synthetic gas (methane) in what are referred to as "power-to-gas" plants. This gas, which is carbon-neutral because it is manufactured by synthesising CH4 from CO2 and H2, can be stored together with biogas and transported and distributed via the existing natural gas network. For generating electricity from gas, efficient combined gas and steam power plants (COGAS) and combined heat and power plants (CHP) in the form of centralised COGAS-CHP plants and decentralised combined heat and power plants (CHP) must be combined in a strategically effective manner. This also allows electricity based on the synthetic gas to be provided in situations when none of the renewable generators can supply energy and the short-term storage batteries are exhausted. Heat can be supplied using heat grids, gas-fired heat pumps and CHPs in addition to electric heat pumps. Gas-fired heat pumps represent the medium to long-term successor technology for today's burner-based heating technologies.