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“renewable Energy’s Role In The Future Of Gas And Electricity”

A European powerhouse Germany has ambitious and far-reaching plans to transform its energy system over the next 30 years. Integrating ever-increasing levels of solar and wind power into the grid poses significant challenges. Wärtsilä has a key role to play in enabling Germany to build a low-carbon, sustainable and reliable energy supply.

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The effects of climate change are clearly visible, and nations around the world are taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit global temperature rise.

(energy transition) is an ambitious transition program to low-carbon, sustainable, reliable and affordable energy sources, implemented since 2000. The country’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. It also wants to produce 60% of its energy from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, by mid-century.

In fact, Germany intends to phase out all coal by 2038 and nuclear by 2023, radically changing the country’s energy market. According to the Berlin political institute Agora Energiewende, the pace and scope of the Energiewende are exceptional.

How is the country going to do it? Germany has invested heavily in wind and solar power generation over the years. First, it created a market for renewable energy sources, and then lowered the cost of renewable technologies. Allowing cooperatives, local initiatives and other business models to participate in the transformation has led to a situation where 31% of renewable energy production is owned by German citizens.

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“From the outset, there has been consistent support for wind and solar, which is now evident in the Energiewende’s ambitious targets to phase out nuclear and then coal power,” says Melle Kruisdijk, Vice President of Wärtsilä Energy Business for Europe, explaining the country’s success with renewables. “Politically, Germany has taken the lead in renewables and this strategy is now paying off.”

The share of RES in gross domestic energy consumption increased to 38.2% in 2018. At the current growth rate, Germany’s goal of reaching a 40-45% share of renewable energy by 2025 is within reach. This is particularly important as it is planned to do so without relying too much on hydropower, as is usually the case in most countries with a high share of renewable energy.

The ambitious energy transition comes with challenges. According to J.P. Morgan’s Annual Energy of March 2019, grid imbalance is a concern for Germany and is putting pressure on Eastern European grids through unwanted power surges and blockages. To reduce the limited costs of renewable energy generation and redispatching, Germany will need to modernize its transmission infrastructure. However, out of the projected demand for 4,650 km of transmission lines by 2025, the newspaper claims that only 900 km have been built so far. Renewable energy is inherently intermittent, which can cause outages.

All of this calls into question Germany’s goal of halving emissions by 2040. “Highly improbable” is J.P. Morgan’s verdict, which in its report attributes it to “the very slow pace of off-grid decarbonisation and the extent to which higher energy demand balances energy intensity improvement, car/aircraft fuel efficiency improvement and more energy efficient equipment/machines/buildings.

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In addition, about 40% of the country’s energy still comes from coal. While Germany’s fossil fuel phase-out goals are admirable, they still need flexible, smart solutions to ensure they can do so without interrupting energy supplies. Motors and energy storage will provide the flexibility needed to integrate renewable energy sources, ensure reliability and provide affordable power systems.

The question now preoccupied policy makers in the country is how to keep the momentum of renewable energy and deal with the problems of supply disruptions.

Wärtsilä believes that the gap caused by the phase-out of nuclear and coal power in the German energy market needs to be filled with renewable and flexible engine-based power plants. As an energy system integrator, Wärtsilä has the ability to design, build and operate optimal power systems. In addition, Wärtsilä envisions a 100% renewable energy future, a goal that perfectly complements Germany’s own energy ambitions. Examples where the two can work together already exist. Take, for example, smart power generation technologies such as Wärtsilä CHP and flexible, reliable and efficient gas engines that can help by generating power to bridge the gap and balance energy supply with demand when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shines.

These motor power plants run on natural gas – a relatively clean fuel – to generate electricity and heat. They can start up quickly and efficiently when needed, and provide hot water to homes and businesses. Cogeneration power plants will also increase comfort and improve the quality of life in cities, because boilers will not be needed in apartments.

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Wärtsilä entered the German market with the delivery of a 100 MW CHP plant to Kraftwerke Mainz-Wiesbaden (KMW) and a 90 MW CHP plant to supply electricity and heat to Dresden, Germany – deal announced in January 2019.

Experts say Germany’s ultimate vision – to be a country where renewable energy meets all energy requirements – is absolutely achievable – and this is a goal that Wärtsilä also supports.

“It will take many years to be 100% green, but the commitment is on the political side. You can see how ambitious Germany is when it comes to phasing out coal energy, for example,” says Jan Andersson, market analyst at Wärtsilä Energy Business.

“Wärtsilä can help Germany transform as an energy system integrator, enabling the integration and optimization of various generation assets, including renewable energy sources, energy storage and motor power plants, to power the energy grids of the future. Not only the combined heat and power plant will play an important role in the Energiewende. Storing the electricity generated in the batteries when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining is also crucial,” explains Kruisdijk.

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CHP will continue to play a long-term role even if renewable energy comes online at a higher rate than it does in Germany today. Ultimately, CHP plants could run on hydrogen or synthetic gases such as synthetic methane, making them carbon neutral. Kruisdijk envisions a future where synthetic liquid and gaseous fuels produced with power-to-x technology will be used to power CHP plants, developing a zero-emission power system of the future.

“Synthetic methane uses CO2 from the atmosphere for its production and is therefore carbon neutral throughout its life cycle,” explains Andersson.

As the Energiewende project gains momentum, it is the flexibility provided by smart power plants and advanced energy storage technologies that will play a key role in increasing the share of renewables in the national grid. Germany has taken the lead – and perhaps other European countries will follow suit in the coming years towards renewable energy. With electricity and heat accounting for 41 percent of global carbon emissions, mitigating climate change will require meeting much of this energy demand from renewable sources rather than fossil fuels. But solar and wind come with their own upfront carbon costs. According to a 2011 study by Leiden University in the Netherlands, photovoltaics requires significantly more aluminum – for panel frames and other applications – than other technologies. Wind turbine alloys require a large amount of nickel. These metals are carbon culprits because they are produced in large quantities in high-energy extraction and refining processes.

The demand for metals and their already significant carbon footprint may increase with the transition to green energy. Taking into account all the resources needed to create new infrastructure, last year’s analysis showed that large PV installations take between one and seven years to break even, with carbon power on the greenhouse scorecard. Wind farms take anywhere from less than one year to 12 years.* All the more reason to make the switch sooner rather than later.

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*Clarification (2013-09-30): This sentence was edited after publication to highlight the lower estimate of wind energy’s GHG payback time, which more closely reflects modern wind turbines.

This article was originally published with the title “The Hidden Costs of Renewable Energy” w309, 4, 100 (October 2013)

John Matson is a former reporter and editor of Scientific American magazine who has written extensively about astronomy and physics.Follow John Matson on Twitter

Discover world-changing science. Browse our digital archive dating back to 1845, including articles from over 150 Nobel laureates. While Singapore is transforming to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, it will find it still vulnerable to geopolitical and economic shifts related to its new energy supply chain, says Philip Andrews-Speed ​​of the Energy Studies Institute.

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Singapore is using water-based panels to quadruple its solar energy use to about two percent of the city’s energy needs by 2025. AFP/Roslan RAHMAN

SINGAPORE: Over the past month, while various ministries debated in the Parliament’s Procurement Committee, two key speeches were made on the energy component of Singapore’s Green Plan.

Minister of Commerce and Industry, Chan Chun Sing and the other

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