Three technologies for a successful energy turnaround

24.10.2019

In order to achieve the Paris Agreement climate targets, we must significantly increase the share of renewable energies. By 2030, for example, 65 percent of our gross electricity consumption is to come from renewable energies – today this figure is only 37.8 percent. So there are still a few challenges to overcome before we can look back with pride on a successful energy turnaround. These three technologies could help us close the impending supply gap.

In order to achieve a 65 percent share of renewable energies in 2030, better framework conditions are needed.

Dr. Simone Peter, President of the German Renewable Energy Federation

A lot still has to happen, said Dr. Simone Peter, President of the German Renewable Energy Federation, in May 2019: “While maintaining the current legal situation, which offers no clear prospects for planning and investment, Germany will only cover 44 percent of its gross electricity consumption from renewable energies – with negative implications for climate protection (…).”

Energy from sun and wind: how can we compensate for dark lows?

In 2017, around 180 TWh came from solar and wind energy. Compared to the actual demand, however, there is still room for improvement. Offshore parks in the North Sea and photovoltaic and solar systems on roofs and fields will ensure this. However, one major challenge remains: What happens in the so-called dark lows, when we can neither rely on the sun nor on sufficient wind? Energy storage is the key!

These offshore parks will probably not be able to fill a gap in the electricity grid.

These offshore parks will probably not be able to fill a gap in the electricity grid.

According to a study by the management consultancy Boston Consulting Group, the worldwide demand for storage capacities is expected to increase significantly by 2030. In order to be able to access electricity from renewable sources day and night, energy storage systems are needed that keep the grid in balance. So-called pumped-storage power plants help here. They can compensate for up to five hours of wind calm and shorter discrepancies between electricity supply and demand. However, they are not suitable for longer dark periods. Their capacity is not sufficient for this.

New technologies store energy to compensate for fluctuations

Our redox flow batteries can also support energy storage. They store electricity as chemical energy. As in any other battery, electrical energy is converted into electrochemical energy in this way.

Thanks to the special technology, up to 80 percent of the electricity fed into the grid can be drawn again. In addition, storage systems based on redox flow are separately scalable in terms of performance and capacity, modular, and not tied to geographical conditions. They can be used practically anywhere.

For the energy turnaround: water as the energy of the future

Water is the coal of the future. The energy of tomorrow is water that has been decomposed by electricity. The elements of water decomposed in this way, hydrogen and oxygen, will secure the earth’s energy supply for an unforeseeable period of time.

Jules Vernes, “The Mysterious Island”

The French writer Jules Vernes already knew in 1874 what role hydropower would play in our energy supply. With our “water electrolysis” we can today also ensure that more energy is stored for dark lows.

Our plant for water electrolysis at our Duisburg site.

Our plant for water electrolysis at our Duisburg site.

The water is separated into hydrogen and oxygen using electrical energy. The hydrogen can be stored as an energy source and converted back into electricity if required. With our technology we want to reduce investment costs by a factor of 3.5 to 5. This makes the process much more economical.

The drive of the future: biomass for the energy turnaround

The energy revolution also involves various types of drive: It is clear that we need alternatives to conventional gasoline and diesel and to internal combustion engines. The high man-made CO2 emissions are the cause of global warming. This is why efforts have been made worldwide for decades to reduce such emissions. Fuels containing biofuel, for example, are intended to help reduce CO2 emissions, but they do not yet save enough CO2. This is changing the next generation of biofuels – with technologies from thyssenkrupp.

The BioTfuel project has a special role to play here: Biomass, i.e. natural waste such as green waste, straw, and wood residues, is turned into high-quality aviation fuel and diesel. In view of the lack of food, this is a major advantage over other biofuels, which are produced from edible resources such as rapeseed or maize.

In our demonstration plant in France, the required biomass raw material is pre-treated. The liquid biofuel will then be produced.

In our demonstration plant in France, the required biomass raw material is pre-treated. The liquid biofuel will then be produced.

From 2023 the need for action increases

According to a semi-annual energy index published by the management consultancy McKinsey, alternative solutions will soon become even more urgent. The last nuclear power plant in Germany is to be shut down in 2023, the first phase of coal phase-out begins – in order to avoid supply bottlenecks, renewable energies must be further expanded by then.