The first speaker at our "Metzler meets Science" event on October 14, 2019 was Professor Dr. Florian Steinke, Professor of Energy Information Networks and Systems at Technical University in Darmstadt. He explained the prerequisites for uninterrupted energy supply generated 100% from renewable energy sources. "Germany’s energy requirements can be divided into three categories: electricity, heat and mechanical energy for transport purposes. Demand for heat in kilowatt hours is twice as high as demand for electricity," says Professor Steinke. It is possible to optimize energy consumption significantly by combining the sectors. Excess electricity from renewable sources can be converted into heat ("power to heat"), which can then be stored relatively easily. According to Professor Steinke, new, modern gas-fired power plants should be another component of the energy turnaround. "Gas-fired power plants can absorb fluctuations in renewable electricity production quickly and cost-effectively. Since gas produces significantly less CO2 than coal, its use during the transitional period is a sensible option.” Furthermore, it might be possible to run power plants on synthetic fuels and thus avoid CO2 emissions altogether in the long run. However, according to Professor Steinke, the "power to gas" option, i.e. the production of synthetic fuels, still requires intensive development, especially in terms of costs.
Flywheel energy storage systems are ideal for handling power supply bottlenecks lasting seconds or minutes, e.g. in industrial plants. This possibility was explained by our second guest speaker, Dr. Hendrik Schaede, Managing Director and Co-founder of Adaptive Balancing Power GmbH, whose start-up company in Darmstadt provides compact memory modules for this type of requirement. However, it is also possible to store recovered energy. "In London's tube tunnels, the temperature is over 30°C. The heat is generated by braking trains. Braking energy can be recovered by a process of recuperation and then fed back into the tube's power grid as required," Dr. Schaede explained. The memory modules by Adaptive Balancing Power GmbH can be expanded at will, charged quickly and recharged more than a million times.