The Federal council of Germany considered the climate agreements of Paris

On 7th of October 2016, the federal council, which is the assembly of the federal states of Germany and a constitutional body, decided, they will allow from 2030 onwards to register only cars, which are CO2 neutral. That means, they will not allow any more to register combustion engine driven cares from 2030 onwards.

This should have now followers, because it is a logical step, if countries tread the decision, done in the climate conference in Paris, seriously. A combustion engine care has a lifetime of about 20 years. If people tread the target to be 2050 CO2 neutral seriously, they have to forbid selling combustion engines in 2030. A logical step, which has to be done in every country, who signed the agreement of Paris.

I would even go further and require, that until that time, it is also assured that electrical energy is not anymore produced out of fossil sources or critical sources like nuclear energy. Only if we produce electricity out of renewable energies and use them for everything, we fulfill the criteria, defined in the Paris assembly.

I fear for Germany at present time the activities of the executive. The minister for transport questioned immediately that decision. From the ministry of energy we heard no statement so far. The execution of this decision is difficult and needs characters, which are capable to apply this. Bothe ministries have not performed adequately in the past. I hope, the ministries will apply certain logic in their doings. Otherwise I hope that the election in 2017 will clarify the situation.

Thank you very much to the federal council, to bring a discussion up, which should have had took place already years ago.

Now we have to care, the lobbies will not eliminate this logic. This can be a sign for the world, if local short term interests will not kill it.

Great ideas are not always immediately appreciated

We have seen many great ideas capable changing our planet from the prophets. Some were already put in place, but have not been given a chance to succeed. This article will discuss and analyze why that happens.

                My first example is the great idea to establish the European Union. Europe is a small continent composed of many small countries. The countries are developed, but each having its own currency and interests meant it could never compete against countries like the U.S. or China. Even competition against Japan seemed impossible. The solution was the foundation of the European Union. At the beginning it developed quiet well. Countries agreed on free trade and common standards. But every country fought to maintain its sovereignty. It’s not about different cultures or  traditions, which should be kept. The fight was over power. By applying a common currency, the countries can maintain sovereignty and go their one way. Due to the debt crisis in Greece, the whole European Union started to struggle. Greece’s BIP is only 2.5% of the BIP of the European Union. Can this really be a problem for the European Union? Yes it can. Greece is sovereign and the influence of the European Union is limited. The great idea of the European Union is jeopardized by the lack of ability to resign from power and sovereignty. 

The problem becomes bigger when dealing with issues that require agreements among countries from other continents. It is nearly impossible to reach an agreement on global issues. This issue is not only apparent when reaching an accord on North Korea or Syria; it is particularly visible in the worldwide problem of global warming and the need for a global energy policy. The idea for such a policy was overcome global warming and energy problems by using only renewable energy such as wind, water energy, photovoltaic energy, thermal-solar energy and biomass. These are the only energy sources that have little impact on the environment and are available as long as life on earth is possible.

We are working with alternatives that have a limited time of possible usage, and we are blocking the development of renewable energy. Different countries are applying different technologies. There are countries focusing on “fracking” to find gas and oil. The environmental Impact of these technologies is not verified today, but the countries are investing heavily in this solution. This solution is, for me, the worst one possible. These countries are investing in a technology that is jeopardizing the environment for a solution that will, in the best-case scenario, postpone the end of oil and gas availability by not more than 20 years.  In the end, these countries have to invest two times: first to make the fracking technology available, and again for a final solution. Some countries are focusing on gas technology. This emits less CO2, but it is still an energy source that has limited availability and will only be a survival solution. Some countries are still focusing on nuclear power. This is not only a bad economic behavior, it is simply irresponsible. After Chernobyl and Fukushima, and knowing that there is no solution for  waste treatment, it is irresponsible to build nuclear power plants.

Different countries are going different ways in the energy future, but long-term thinking allows only the “sun” energies. All other solutions are not safe, do not address the CO2 balance, and are only temporary. Why we are ready to pay the bill twice on the way to a sustainable energy future?

It is the same reason we stop halfway to a European Union. Individual interests and lobbying are blocking great ideas. These ideas will come sooner or later, but today the people in power are blocking them to assure their own interests.

It seems to be a rule: Big chances create winners and loser. As long as the people who will lose power or money have the ability, they will fight against change. A lot of big changes are delayed or blocked. I see a big political responsibility if we don’t want to pay the bill for sustainable energy twice. Politicians have to ensure that roadblocks to a sustainable future are removed. Can they do that?

Antidumping duties are not the solution for a healthy photovoltaic market.

The U.S. rise in antidumping duties against Chinese photovoltaic modules. This did not really break the development of photovoltaic in the US. Now, the European Union is investigating the Chinese photovoltaic industry to determine whether unfair trade conditions exist. In June of this year, they will make their decision about this subject. Prognos conducted a study, which concluded that, in the case that the European Union will apply antidumping duties of 60%, 190,000 workplaces in Europe will be lost. If the European Union will apply antidumping duties of 30%, 135, 000 workplaces will be lost. The study assumes that the market for big project solar power plants will drop dramatically if the prices for solar modules rise above the current Chinese module prices.

All these assumptions may be right. The target has to be to establish a healthy market environment, which is the only guarantee for creating sustainable market conditions. Antidumping duties are not the tools with which to establish these conditions. These kinds of duties are only destroying the markets. Even for China, it is not possible to subsidize the photovoltaic market in the long term. After finishing the subsidies, the market will be in the same shape as it was, as the German government drastically reduced its feed in tariffs.  Many companies will come into difficulties then. Due to the fact that these companies never did feel real market conditions, they will not be capable of adapting to the markets in an acceptable time. Antidumping duties and subsidies are only postponing the challenge of establishing a worldwide photovoltaic market.

What are the possible solutions? The only possibility to come to healthy market conditions is to start talking to each other. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, proposed discussions with the Chinese government during her visit last year to China. I did not see that these discussions started. Additionally, without these discussions, the antidumping duties are on their way to becoming implemented. However, discussing with each other is a precondition to solve problems.

The unpredictable and hesitating politic is in the process of destroying future technology. Even the latest Shell study clearly indicates the leading role of photovoltaic for long-term energy production. In this way, first subsidizing this technology, then destroying and then discovering that it is really needed to build up a long-term energy supply, we pay the bill more than one time.

My clear demand would be the following: The politics and the industry have to discuss on a world-wide scale in order to release the photovoltaic to the free market and to not interfere anymore. I am convinced that in several months, we will see how a healthy economical industry will find its way.

We are preparing destroying our planet

A lot of past efforts have attempted to introduce policies to stop global warming and allow for world ecological developments. Worldwide conferences took place and targets have been selected. When it comes time to implement such changes, however, the different countries decide that they see difficulties in achieving these targets, so they change their policies. At present, it looks like, that we are trying to forget the risks of global warming and those caused by nuclear power plants. Every single country is going this way, seeking the biggest short-term profits and hoping that the world will survive until the end of today’s decision makers’ lifespans.

In studies about the future of our energy supply, we are currently considering three scenarios:

(Enerdata – Global Energy Forecasting)

Looking at these three scenarios, we can say that at the present time we are behaving according to the “Balance Scenario.” Energy prices are rising, and there is no commitment to global policies. Now we are faced with a technical development, which makes it probable that we will choose the scenario that provides us with growth in the oil and gas sector combined with nuclear power production. In the U. S., large amounts of oil sands have been found. This, the U. S. will exploit through fracking processes. There has been a lot of progress made during the last year. The general fracking procedure is explained in the graphic below. China is, to a certain extent, using renewable energies. However, this is not sufficient to keep up with the Chinese population and industry growth. So, China intends to build a significant number of nuclear power plants. These will not disperse CO2 but will come with a lot of other risks and the problem of determining what to do with nuclear waste.

None of these developments are focusing on the “Emergence” scenario, which is the only one guiding us to a long-term, sustainable future.

Economic interests and short-term political actions are,  at the present time, hindering the development of our sustainable future. Not stopping these developments will lead us to a bleak future. We are on the way to destroying our planet.

 

Electroluminescence shows the quality of photovoltaic modules

A wise old proverb says, “Quality has to be produced, not approved.” What can we learn from this wisdom for the production of crystalline photovoltaic modules? It tells us that we have to use electroluminescence tests during production and not only as a final test of the modules.

Let us firstly briefly examine what we can see with an electroluminescence test. Electroluminescence relies on the same principle as a light emitting diode (LED). Current is fed into a solar cell (essentially a large diode), and radiative recombination of carriers causes light emission. Most of the recombination in silicon, which is an indirect bandgap semiconductor, occurs via defects or Auger recombination. The amount of band-to-band recombination producing radiative emission is relatively low. However, there is a small amount of radiative recombination that happens even in silicon, and this signal can be sensed using an external detector. The technique requires electrical contact and so can only be used once the metallization has been applied and the cell is substantially complete. Electroluminescence provides a wealth of data about the area-related uniformity of solar cells and modules. It is non-destructive and relatively fast, with measurement times of 1 s possible.

The luminescence signal of silicon peaks at 1150 nm, corresponding to the energy of the bandgap.

Electroluminescence has become increasingly popular with the advent of low cost silicon CCD arrays. They are similar to the ones used for digital cameras, but optimized for sensitivity in the near-infrared and cool to reduce thermal noise.

The key advantage, as noted above, is the ability of electroluminescence to image an entire solar cell or module in a relatively short time. The light output increases with the local voltage, such that regions with poor contact show up as dark.

Electroluminescence image of a monocrystalline silicon wafer. The intensity of the light given off is proportional to the voltage, so poorly contacted and inactive regions show up as dark areas. The microcrack and printing problem are not detectable through visual inspection.

Due to further cost reduction, photovoltaic cells are becoming thinner and thinner. This makes them much more sensitive not only to mechanical stress, but also to temperature influences during the production process. To assure high quality modules in the end, we have to monitor all relevant production processes using electroluminescence images. This gives us the ability to feedback control the production processes and react immediately in case of deviations. Using electroluminescence during the production of photovoltaic cells and modules assures high quality and controlled production processes and makes it possible to produce thinner cells and, as a result, further reduce cost.

Why not photovoltaic? Discussed on the example Europe.

Nothing is turning, nothing is moving, but it provides energy: that is photovoltaic. It is predictable for the different regions. Why it is as much under critic at present time?  Let us answer this question in this article.

Photovoltaic made the biggest progress within the last 2 years compared to all renewable energies. The prices for panels dropped by factor 4 from 2 Euro/Watt peak to 50Eurocent/ Watt peak. That is the biggest progress for all the renewable energies in such a short period of time. It is coming with this progress to grid parity. That means, that the energy produced by photovoltaic is price wise comparable to fossil energies. Why the photovoltaic is still under discussion and not simply used as an economical solution for energy production?

Looking to the availability of sun energy, we can see in the picture below, that surely the sun irradiation is higher in south Europe than is northern Europe. So the efficiency of sun power production will be higher in southern Europe. On the other hand, the northern part of Europe shows higher efficiency to produce wind energy. This is less efficient in the southern part of Europe. The logic would be for me, to focus in the northern part of Europe more on wind energy and in the southern part more on sun energy. To produce in both parts of Europe will reduce the transmission costs and will assure more stability in the grid.

 

 

Because solar and wind energy will become for Europe long-term the dominating energy sources, Europe has to deal with the intermittency of this energies. Biogas, natural Gas and Geothermic will become a stabilizing role, but it cannot completely solve the problem of the intermittency of this energies.

 

The picture above shows the four working areas, to solve the problem of intermittent energy production.

On the interconnection of the grids, the storages, the optimization of the demand side and a flexible usage of renewable energy sources we should focus.

It maid be necessary not to come meanwhile in difficulties of energy availability to build up a few gas power plants.  I personally cannot understand is to keep nuclear power in account. We have sufficient examples, that we cannot finally assure the safety of nuclear power plants and we have still no solution to store the nuclear waste. In Tschernobyl they are covering the destroyed reactor at present time with a new concert cover. The time to keep care on the Tschernobyl reactor needs another several hundreds of years. In Germany the nuclear waste in the final storage of “Asse 2” close to Wolfenbuettel has to be taken out and has to be brought to a safer place. We have no solution to assure the coverage of nuclear waste for the time it needs. So to use nuclear power as an intermediate solution to take the time to build up the renewable energies is irresponsible.

The proper mix of renewable energies is the only way in the future. To do this change in an economically adequate way is our responsibility

The energy production region for Europe is northern Africa.

The energy turnaround in Europe has started. Germany, especially, increases the share of renewable energies continuously. There are already several towns and villages that are completely independent of fossil energy. But this picture does not show the whole story.

It will be difficult to produce all of the energy needed throughout those countries in the European Union merely with renewable energies. Even to produce some more renewable energy in Europe directly will be possible, the gap to replace fossil energies completely is still big.. We have to keep in mind that 30% of the energy is used in households, 30% for transportation, and 30% by industry. My estimation is that Europe can produce only 50 to 60% of their energy use within Europe itself. Even the high demand for energy by industry would be difficult to source only within Europe.

Because of this, it makes sense for Europe to look to its neighbor to the south. There is a big potential in the North African deserts, which are not far from Europe and are not highly populated. There is an estimate of sourcing costs in the picture below for the year 2015. It shows that we should really start to develop this region as an energy source.

Initiatives like DESERTEC are working to achieve this, and I think that they are close to making the energy turnaround in Europe complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why does DESERTEC have more critics than followers? Here we have the same problems seen in the German energy policies at present time: The interest of some companies and the strong lobby work of certain companies are hindering the success of these initiatives.

This is especially visible in Germany’s struggles to improve their grid to a powerful smart grid. Every day, they are facing new challenges.

It would be much more advisable for Germany’s energy lobby to participate in projects like DESERTEC to protect their business interests. In the long term, they will never be capable of hindering the inevitable energy changes that are coming.

Asia is taking the lead in the development and production of renewable energies.

For forty years already, we have seen a pattern of great technical developments shifting their main location from Europe to Asia. The German photo industry moved to Japan in the 1960s, and at the present time, only niche areas of this industry are present in Germany. The European ship building industry moved to Japan and is now mainly located in Korea and China. Even niches of technical industries typically do not fare well in Europe. The whole consumer goods industry, especially home entertainment, is dominated by Korea, Japan, and China. The only industries that have managed to retain a strong footprint in Europe are the car industry and the machine building industry. Both industries were also already in jeopardy of being eliminated in Europe by Japan and Korea. The strong technical developments that were initiated in these industries, however, could allow the European countries to gain back their leading role.

In Europe, a multitude of analysis has explored these developments. Nevertheless, Europeans did not learn the lessons these studies taught. Nearly ten years ago, Europe was developing the technologies for renewable energies, starting production and installation, and focusing on making renewable energies accessible. What is the status today, though?

China is already producing more wind turbines than Europe, and the Chinese companies are independent from any European company. For several years, they have been fully independent of European licenses. The photovoltaic industry is similar. The best photovoltaic cells are currently produced in Taiwan or Malaysia. European companies can only compete within a few niches against Asian photovoltaic cells. China has the greatest production capacity for photovoltaic cells, while the largest market is still Europe.

In light of these realities, we must ask whether these products are fairly traded. Even if the Chinese government provides subsidies for the photovoltaic and wind power companies, this does not explain why the European companies are falling behind the Asian companies in the realm of technology, and why Chinese companies are becoming more successful in other markets as well.

In my opinion, there are two main reasons why Europe is currently losing status in respect to renewable energies.

  1. Convenience behavior. The EEG law assured convenient conditions for the whole renewable energy industry. Product development, system developments, and process development did not maintain the necessary speed. The development of the grid began too late and was blocked by the big electricity companies. Now the discussion centers on the ideas that the energy turnaround of renewable energy is too expensive, and that having a grid in one’s surroundings is unacceptable—ideas that are slowing the speed of development in the industry. To compete against the Asian countries, the whole of European society has to leave its comfort zone and fight for its place in the world’s economy.
  2. Lack of capability to develop business models and services. Another weak point in European society is the fact that European countries are not as creative as Asian countries in developing business models and services. Europeans are used to the idea that other countries need their products and come to Europe to buy them. Thus, Europeans do not take enough care in providing the services that are needed for their products. They are not sufficiently developing technical services, financial services, and assistance with gaining permission for grid connection, security services, and other necessities. If European companies are not bringing the only outstanding product to the market, they must make their product outstanding due to the package they offer. However, offering such services is not a strong point in European industries.

Europe must change its mentality about marketing products, lest renewable energies continue going the way of ship building and consumer goods. Speed in development and creative business models will play a decisive role in shaping the future of Europe’s renewable energy industry.

Energy storage: Necessary developments and integration in energy systems

Energy storage technologies are a strategic and necessary component for the efficient utilization of renewable energy sources and energy conservation. There is a great potential to replace fossil fuels by using renewable generation resources, which do not all produce energy continuously, and storing energy that would otherwise be wasted. Renewable energy sources can be used more effectively through the addition of short- and long-term energy storage. All kinds of energy storage systems enable greater and more efficient use of these fluctuating energy sources by matching the energy supply with demand. To find the right direction for the development of energy storage, let us briefly discuss the law of conservation of energy.

The law of conservation of energy, first formulated in the nineteenth century, is a law of physics. It states that the total amount of energy in an isolated system remains constant over time. Thus, the total energy is said to be conserved over time. For an isolated system, this law means that energy can change its location within the system and that it can change form within the system. For instance, chemical energy can become kinetic energy, but that energy can be neither created nor destroyed within a defined system. Keeping this in mind, we have to consider keeping energy within a system and how to transform it into the best form for use. This law is the basis for the call to develop effective energy storage. From the perspective of this law, we can examine all areas of natural science and find energy storage possibilities in every area.

Storage methods examples:

  1. Chemical

– Hydrogen

– Biofuels

– Liquid nitrogen

– Oxyhydrogen

– Hydrogen peroxide

  1. Biological

– Starch

– Glycogen

  1. Electrochemical

– Batteries

– Flow batteries

– Fuel cells

  1. Electrical

– Capacitors

– Supercapacitors

– Superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES)

  1. Mechanical

– Compressed air energy storage (CAES)

– Flywheel energy storage

– Hydraulic accumulators

– Hydroelectric energy storage

– Springs

– Gravitational potential energy (device)

  1. Thermal

– Ice Storage

– Molten salt

– Cryogenic liquid air or nitrogen

– Seasonal thermal stores

– Solar ponds

– Hot bricks

– Steam accumulators

– Fireless locomotives

– Eutectic systems

The list is long, and these are only a few energy storage possibilities, but all of these examples are already being used today. Thus, I think there are a lot of possibilities for storing energy. We now have the task of developing the storage possibilities in ways that assure low costs and small energy losses during the transformation from one energy form to another.

Let us take, for example, the Nokia Li-ion battery for powering a mobile phone:

A lithium-ion battery (sometimes Li-ion battery or LIB) is a family of rechargeable battery types in which lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharge.

Specifications for the Nokia Li-ion battery for powering a mobile phone:

Specific energy                 100-250 W·h/kg (0.36-0.90 MJ/kg)

Energy density 250-730 W·h/L (0.90-2.23 MJ/L)

Specific power ~250-~340 W/kg [1]

Charge/discharge efficiency        80-90% [3]

Energy/consumer-price                2.5 W·h/US$

Self-discharge rate          8% at 21 °C /15% at 40 °C /31% at 60 °C (per month) [4]

Cycle durability  400-1200 cycles

Nominal cell voltage       NMC 3.6/3.7 V, LiFePO4 3.2 V

Looking at the data, we see that the transformation of electrical energy to chemical energy and back to electrical energy costs 10 to 20% in energy loss. This energy is not lost, but it changes into heat energy, which we can normally not fully use. This heat energy will increase the temperature of the battery, which provokes higher self-discharge. Furthermore, we have to take price into account.

We have to develop energy storage further. The system solution will become, in the future, a combination of storage strategies, different energy forms, and smart management of the system. For example, we have described an example for a hybrid power plant in a previous article:

http://www.managementism.com/2012/continuous-energy-supply-generated-by-a-hybrid-power-plant/

The following picture shows an example of how “Frauenhofer Institutes” are seeing the future of energy supply:

All the elements in the above picture are already known and somehow usable today. We have to develop them further in terms of performance and cost efficiency. Such systems will be the future in becoming independent of fossil energy, reducing CO2 emissions, and preventing energy wars.

Continuous energy supply generated by a hybrid power plant

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:

  1. Water pump stations
  2. Batteries (i.e., via Pb-accumulators or lithium ion accumulators)
  3. 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
  4. 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.