In the article that is located at http://www.managementism.com/2012/the-same-installation-again-and-what-else-do-we-need/, we promised to show the possible ways with which to ensure a continuous energy supply. The discontinuity of renewable energy’s ability to bolster the energy supply is mainly caused by the usage of wind energy and solar power. But these two forms of energy are the most available sources on earth and are, at the present time, already competitive with fossil energies. We should and must use them in order to fulfill the energy demand on our planet.
What possibilities are available to continuously generate solar and wind energy? According to the aforementioned article, a smart grid and storage is vital. At present, the following storage possibilities are viable options:
- Water pump stations
- Batteries (i.e., via Pb-accumulators or lithium ion accumulators)
- Hydrogen storage, which uses electrolysis to produce and store hydrogen from the surplus energy. If the energy is necessary, the hydrogen and O2 electricity can be generated in fuel cell
- A mixture of continuous energy supplies and stored energy
All the aforementioned forms of energy storage require additional development in order to achieve an acceptable degree of efficiency. A considerable amount of development is currently underway. The automotive industry is focusing on lithium ion accumulators to fuel possible developments in electro mobility. This technology can also be used also for small and medium stationary storage.
I am presently researching examples of hydrogen storage. A forthcoming article will address this topic.
I am currently living in Brandenburg, Germany. In northeast Germany, in a small city called Prenzlau, I found a very interesting project that supplies continuous energy out of renewable energies. The company Enertrag has built a hybrid power plant that is using five wind turbines and a biogas plant. (i.e., hybrid means to be combination of or out of different sources). The biogas plant is practically continuously producing power. The wind turbines produce energy only if the wind is blowing. The wind turbines are providing their power directly to the grid. If the grid is not ready to take the power, the electricity that is generated by the wind turbines produce hydrogen by electrolysis. This hydrogen, which is mixed with the biogas, is used to drive the two “combined heat and power plants” that continuously produce heat and electrical power. The electrical power is provided to the grid and the heat is used for heating (i.e., water, etc.) by households that are close to the plant.
The hybrid power plant in Prenzlau is depicted in the following illustration:
CHP = Combined Heat and Power
This plant is a practical example of how we can ensure a continuous power supply to the grid while providing heat energy for nearby residents.
This example caused me to consider different combinations of power plants. The main energy sources for the future are wind and solar energy. Both of these energies are not continuously available at every place on earth, but their potential is huge. There is no way that we can avoid considering wind and solar energy. With storage, in combination with other energy sources and worldwide smart grids, we can provide continuously available energies.
To reach this target, we need research and samples that show the possibilities. The samples will depict the challenges that we will face and the problems that require resolution. As a result, we need more examples and more variant solutions. The example of the hybrid power plant in Prenzlau, which is currently being tested, is an example that requires attention.
We can solve the challenges of a limited power supply by focusing on solar and wind energy. It is necessary to place more than one project like Enertrac did. Thus, we will gain the experience to find solutions that can be implemented around the globe.