About the author

Jan Oliver Löfken

Energy journalist Jan Oliver Löfken writes among other things, for the Technologie Review, Wissenschaft aktuell, Tagesspiegel, Berliner Zeitung and P.M. Magazin on issues involving energy research and industry. For DLR, he answered the Energy question of the week during the Year of Energy 2010.

Currently, Jan Oliver Löfken writes in the DLR Energy blog on current topics related to the energy turnaround. He considers the contributions that research can make to a secure and affordable energy supply. The energy transition is a social challenge - a project of the century, as noted by Environment Minister Peter Altmeier. In the DLR Energy Blog, Jan Oliver Löfken discusses the outlook of the power supply and what can set the course for politics and the economy today.

Posts from Jan Oliver Löfken

BlogName11 | 28. May 2014 | 1 Comment

Energieeffizienz – Stiefkind der Energiewende

Von Jan Oliver Löfken, Wissenschaftsjournalist und DLR-Energieblogger

Windräder und Solarparks alleine reichen nicht aus, um den Klimawandel einzudämmen. Ohne das Einsparen von Energie lässt sich eine umfassende Energiewende nicht umsetzen. Genau an diesem Punkt hapert es derzeit in vielen Staaten der Europäischen Union. read more

BlogName11 | 09. April 2014

Energieabhängigkeit: Welche Alternativen gibt es zum russischen Gas?

Eine Betrachtung von Jan Oliver Löfken, Wissenschaftsjournalist und DLR-Energieblogger

Mit der Krim-Krise wächst in Deutschland das Unbehagen, zu sehr von russischen Energieimporten abhängig zu sein. Dank neuer Pipelines wuchs 2013 der Anteil russischen Gases am deutschen Bedarf sogar auf 38 Prozent. Zusammen mit ebenfalls hohen Importanteilen an Erdöl (34 %) und Steinkohle (23 %) machen Energieträger von jenseits des Urals fast ein Viertel (23 %) der deutschen Energieversorgung aus. Gibt es überhaupt Alternativen zu diesen Importen? Und wie viel Zeit wäre für eine umfassende Umstellung auf andere Energielieferanten nötig? read more

BlogName11 | 05. January 2014

Lastmanagement für ein stabileres Stromnetz

Die Nachtspeicherheizung ist ein Relikt aus den 1960er Jahren und musste aus Gründen der Effizienz zu Recht den sparsameren Zentralheizungen weichen. Dennoch könnte die Idee, Strom zu - damals nächtlichen - Zeiten der Überproduktion abzunehmen, in Zeiten der Energiewende eine Renaissance erfahren. Lastmanagement nennt sich die Methode, den Bedarf der Stromverbraucher an die Erzeugung anzupassen. Und gerade mit einem wachsenden Anteil an Strom aus fluktuierend arbeitenden Kraftwerken wie Wind- und Solaranlagen drängen sich die Vorteile regelbarer Verbraucher für ein intelligentes Stromnetz auf. read more

BlogName11 | 22. November 2013 | 4 Comments

Alarmierende Ergebnisse einer IEA-Studie: Fossile Energieträger spielen weiterhin dominante Rolle

Eine Betrachtung von Jan Oliver Löfken, Wissenschaftsjournalist und DLR-Energieblogger

Jedes Jahr bewertet die Internationale Energieagentur (IEA) den Status Quo der globalen Energieversorgung und entwirft ein aktualisiertes Szenario für die kommenden Jahrzehnte. In diesem wird – ausgehend von den heute genutzten fossilen und erneuerbaren Energiequellen – der Bedarf bis zum Jahr 2035 um ein Drittel steigen. Verantwortlich dafür macht die IEA in den kommenden Jahren zum einen die starke wirtschaftliche Entwicklung in China und Indien. Doch zum anderen werden parallel weitere asiatische Schwellenländer wie etwa Indonesien den Energiehunger weiter verstärken. read more

BlogName11 | 24. September 2013 | 2 Comments

Energiewende: Schluss mit Schwarz-Weiß-Strategien

Ein Kommentar von Jan Oliver Löfken, Wissenschaftsjournalist und DLR-Energieblogger

Die Bundestagswahl ist vorüber, die Koalitionsgespräche werden in Kürze beginnen. Die Erwartungen sind groß, dass nach langer mutloser Lethargie der Politik das Projekt Energiewende wieder angegangen wird. Es ist höchste Zeit: Denn die bisher gültigen Bedingungen lassen Strompreise für private Haushalte steigen während sich tausende Unternehmen vor der EEG-Umlage drücken. Niedrige Kurse für CO2-Zertifikate forcieren die Verstromung von Kohle so stark, dass die gesteckten Klimaziele in immer weitere Ferne rücken. Sowohl die Vertreter der Wirtschaft als auch die Bürger verlieren – die einen schneller als die anderen – das Vertrauen in den ambitionierten Umbau der Energieversorgung. read more

BlogName11 | 25. July 2013 | 4 Comments

Desertec: Die Wüstenstrom-Idee lebt

Wer auf die Schlagzeilen der vergangenen Wochen schaut, könnte den Glauben an die faszinierende Wüstenstrom-Idee verlieren. So wurde das Industriekonsortium Dii von Austritten, inneren Querelen und Streit um Führungspositionen heftig in seinen Grundfesten erschüttert. Einen Höhepunkt setzte die Desertec Foundation als Vordenker der Wüstenstrom-Idee, als sie ebenfalls ihre Mitgliedschaft in der Dii aufkündigte. Doch der Traum von Solar- und Windstrom aus den Wüstenregionen der Erde ist damit nicht ausgeträumt. Ganz im Gegenteil. read more

BlogName11 | 16. May 2013 | 6 Comments

Der versteckte Kohleboom

Die Nutzung von Stein- und Braunkohle nimmt in Deutschland deutlich zu und verzeichnet ein stärkeres Wachstum als alle erneuerbaren Quellen zusammen. Die deutsche Energiewende zeigt damit zwei völlig verschiedene, gar widersprüchliche Gesichter. Einerseits wuchs 2012 der Anteil der Erneuerbaren Quellen an der Stromerzeugung auf stolze 22,9 Prozent. Andererseits wird soviel Braunkohle in deutschen Kraftwerken verfeuert wie seit 1990 nicht mehr. Wie kommt es zu dieser Zunahme, die den eigentlichen Zielen der Energie- und Klimapolitik entgegenläuft? read more

BlogName11 | 27. December 2010 | 2 Comments

Energy question of the week: Will our appetite for energy continue to increase?

Our energy demand can be split into three main areas: electricity, heating, and fuel for mobility. In Germany, every person needs about 6000 watts of power to maintain his or her affluent, mobile way of life. Americans use almost twice that amount. Compare that with people in developing countries, like Chad, who only have 11 watts at their disposal. Is there a need for more and more energy? read more

BlogName11 | 20. December 2010

Energy question of the week: How will energy provision change over the next few decades?

Several studies forecast that by 2050, it will be possible for Germany to obtain a high proportion of its energy from renewable sources. DLR also has significant involvement in the expansion of wind, hydroelectric and solar power stations. But what specific changes can be anticipated here? The DLR Executive Board Member responsible for Energy and Transport research, Ulrich Wagner, provides insight into future prospects. read more

BlogName11 | 13. December 2010 | 4 Comments

Energy question of the week: Complete autonomy - is there a way to total energy self-sufficiency?

Electricity costs rise every year, as do gas and oil prices. Almost all German citizens are obliged to use the services of gas and electric utility companies to keep their homes warm and supplied with power. Is there no way out of this? read more

BlogName11 | 06. December 2010 | 4 Comments

Energy question of the week: Who uses the most electricity in Germany?

Since 1990, the consumption of electricity in Germany has risen by about one third. Despite more efficient household appliances - for example, refrigerators, energy-saving light bulbs and computers, the VDE (Germany's trade association for the electrical, electronics and information technology sectors) envisages a further increase of almost 30 percent between now and 2025. There is a vast and currently untapped potential for savings. So, who actually accounts for the majority of electricity usage in Germany? read more

BlogName11 | 29. November 2010

Energy question of the week: How can urban areas efficiently save energy?

Germany is a country of towns and cities. Almost 90 percent of the population lives and works in urban conurbations – from Aachen to Görlitz, from Flensburg to Friedrichshafen. The need for energy is obviously highest where these people are located, and that is the key to achieving a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. However, what form should intelligent urban redevelopment take, from transport through residential accommodation to workplaces? read more

BlogName11 | 22. November 2010

Energy question of the week: What is the EU's strategy for securing energy supply for the future?

20-20-20. The European Union's energy and climate policies have revolved around these figures for years. By the year 2020, 20 percent of our energy will come from renewable sources, reducing greenhouse gases by at least 20 percent and increasing energy efficiency by 20 Percent. All 27 member states are required to achieve these objectives. But now, Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, has put forward an energy strategy for the entire EU. What are the most important plans for the future of energy supplies? read more

BlogName11 | 15. November 2010 | 3 Comments

Energy question of the week: Can nuclear waste be made safe?

With the decision to extend the service life of German nuclear power stations and the demonstrations against Castor waste transport, the issue of a definitive solution for storage of nuclear waste is a hot topic once again. For instance, the suitability of the salt deposits in Gorleben, Lower Saxony, is being investigated once again, and other potential storage locations in Germany are being looked into. But is there no alternative to storing nuclear waste for thousands of years underground? read more

BlogName11 | 08. November 2010 | 3 Comments

Energy question of the week: Why do solar power stations also need so much water?

Solar power plants either make use of solar cells to generate electricity directly, or they use heat from concentrated sunlight to generate it indirectly. The illuminated surfaces of solar panels or mirrors must be as clean as possible so that sunlight can be used most efficiently. Water is used for cleaning, but with only 70 to 80 litres of water per 1000 kilowatt-hours of power generation, cleaning forms only the smallest use for water in solar power plants. What do these power plants need so much water for? read more

BlogName11 | 02. November 2010 | 2 Comments

Energy question of the week: What progress is the DESERTEC project making on power from the desert?

Last week the industry consortium, Dii (DESERTEC industrial initiative), invited attendees to Barcelona for its first annual meeting on the DESERTEC desert power project. Top of the agenda were current developments in the plan created by DLR for the future supply to Europe of solar power from North Africa and the Middle East. But what projects are bringing us closer to this vision of future energy supply? read more

BlogName11 | 25. October 2010 | 7 Comments

Energy question of the week: How much longer will world reserves of the nuclear fuel uranium last?

As controversial as nuclear power is, with its still unresolved risks, waste storage problems and high capital costs, it currently meets about 14 percent of global electrical power demand through 430 power stations. However, as is the case with crude oil, coal or natural gas, reserves of uranium 235 – the fuel used in atomic power stations – are finite, meaning that they will run out one day. This poses a simple question: how much longer will our natural uranium reserves last? read more

BlogName11 | 18. October 2010 | 5 Comments

Energy question of the week: What techniques are available for storing energy?

Batteries are certainly the most familiar energy storage devices – reliable, available everywhere and convenient. Rechargeable batteries are ideal for cell phones and electric cars, but for large amounts of energy, to overcome shortages in the power grid, they are not the best solution. What other options are available to us today? read more

BlogName11 | 11. October 2010 | 4 Comments

Energy question of the week: Why is energy storage so important?

Whether driving a car, switching on a light, or turning up the heating – we take it for granted that there'll be sufficient energy for us to use at that very moment. But this only works if two basics are in place. Firstly, energy needs to be transported quickly and reliably to the consumer in the required form. Second, energy storage guarantees straightforward access and acts as an 'energy buffer' to fill the gaps in distribution. So, what kinds of storage do we get our everyday energy from? read more

BlogName11 | 04. October 2010 | 5 Comments

Energy question of the week: Is complete self-sufficiency possible with decentralised power stations?

Nearly 80 percent of the electricity used in Europe comes from central power plants to the consumer via the electrical grid. As the popularity of renewable power sources has risen, consumer awareness of the importance of decentralised power production has also grown. The trend for decentralised and intelligent electricity production enjoys further support from projects for networked thermal power stations. Does this technology have the potential to provide an all-inclusive power supply? read more

BlogName11 | 27. September 2010 | 6 Comments

Energy question of the week: Bicycles replacing cars - the future of e-mobility?

According to estimates by the German Federal Government, even though today there are few mass-produced electric cars on the market, there will be a million electric cars on German roads by 2020. Despite numerous pilot projects using electric cars, high expectations are being curbed because of high purchase costs, short ranges and a lack of infrastructure for charging stations. On the other hand, sales of two-wheeled electric vehicles such as scooters and bicycles are breaking all records. So is the electric bicycle replacing the car in terms of e-mobility? read more

BlogName11 | 17. September 2010 | 10 Comments

Energy question of the week: How much energy can be saved by using the successors to incandescent light bulbs?

Gradually, the lights are going out over Europe; but this time, only the incandescent ones. Last year, the EU banned the sale of 100- and 75-watt bulbs, and 60-watt bulbs followed them a few weeks ago. By 2012, incandescent bulbs – which transform only five percent of their input power into light and the rest into heat – will no longer be on sale anywhere in Europe. But what will the result of this ban be? read more

BlogName11 | 13. September 2010 | 2 Comments

Energy question of the week: What part does natural gas play in meeting Germany’s energy requirements?

Whether used for heating, as a vehicle fuel or for power generation in gigantic turbines, natural gas plays a central role in Germany’s national energy supply. With consumption at 100 billion cubic metres a year, its use – and also importation – has almost doubled since 1970; and this trend is still growing. But does such a development make sense? read more

BlogName11 | 03. September 2010 | 3 Comments

Energy question of the week: Which fuel offers the most efficient energy storage?

Whether on the road, by sea or in the air – the basis of modern transport systems is the internal combustion engine. Hardly any other invention has resulted in so many variants in just 100 years of development. One of the reasons for the technical success of diesel and petrol combustion engines is the high energy content of the fuel they burn. But how much energy do fossil fuels really contain, in comparison with hydrogen or lithium ion batteries? read more

BlogName11 | 30. August 2010 | 1 Comment

Energy question of the week: Can the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide be stored safely underground?

Coal-fired power stations release more carbon dioxide per kWh than any other fossil fuel facility, and Germany has a large number of just this sort of power station. It is estimated that around 40 billion tons of coal are stored in potential open cast deposits in Lusatia and the Lower Rhine Basin. That makes up 14 percent of world reserves. The question is, can the carbon dioxide emissions be captured and stored underground? read more

BlogName11 | 23. August 2010 | 2 Comments

Energy question of the week: Can wind turbines also float on the open sea?

The twelve offshore wind turbines that make up the 'alpha ventus' wind farm, 45 kilometres to the north of the North Sea island of Borkum, can generate sufficient electricity for 50,000 households. Like all other wind farms in the North Sea, these turbines are installed on firm foundations at water depths of between 30 and 50 metres. However, not all coastal countries have such a flat and shallow seabed immediately off their coastline. Might it not be a great deal simpler and less expensive to install wind turbines on floating platforms? read more

BlogName11 | 16. August 2010

Energy question of the week: Is any country already able to meet all of its energy needs from renewable sources?

A growing volume of energy originating from renewable sources is being used right around the world – from Europe to America to China. This trend is especially widespread in the electricity-generation sector. Over the last couple of years, the USA and the countries of the EU have been building more power station capacity based on wind, water and solar energy than they in conventionally fuelled power stations, – that is, coal, gas or uranium. However, is any country already able to meet all of its energy needs from renewable sources? read more

BlogName11 | 09. August 2010 | 11 Comments

Energy question of the week: Which type of electricity generation has the least impact on climate?

Coal-fired power stations burn lignite or, for the most part, coal imported from overseas. Solar cells need crystalline silicon that first needs to be extracted from quartz, an energy-intensive process. Therefore, when examining the climate compatibility of power generating plants, it makes sense to not restrict the analysis just to the operation of the plant. Instead, the total energy required should be considered across the entire service life of the plant, typically in excess of 30 years. Viewed against this benchmark, which type of power plant has the best environmental credentials? read more

BlogName11 | 02. August 2010

Energy question of the week: Can we secure our fuel supply with the help of algal blooms?

Every hot summer, gigantic carpets of blue algae spread across the Baltic, much to the disapointment of seaside visitors looking for a quick dip in the cool water. Cyanobacteria inhabit the yellow-green plumes and can lead to poisoning if ingested. However, these same microorganisms can also produce flammable hydrocarbon chains known as alkanes and alkenes. Might they be suited to diesel and petrol production? read more

BlogName11 | 26. July 2010 | 2 Comments

Energy question of the week: What is the best way to harness solar energy?

On average, sunlight illuminates every single square metre of the Earth with 1340 watts of power. Measured on human timescales, this energy source is infinite; it warms our planet, enables plants to grow and is the engine driving the winds and weather. But which technology is best able to harness the power of sunlight? read more

BlogName11 | 19. July 2010

Energy question of the week: Does the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico mean the end of deep sea drilling?

Since disaster struck the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico on 20 April 2010, up to nine million litres of crude oil have been gushing into the sea every day. It remains to be seen whether the recently installed 40-ton cap can really stop the majority of the oil flowing from the wellhead, 1500 metres under the sea. The spill will only be stopped definitively when the relief wells are completed in mid-August. But is this catastrophe the beginning of the end for deep sea drilling? read more

BlogName11 | 12. July 2010 | 4 Comments

Energy question of the week: Can the human body be used as a power plant?

A human being performing light physical activity needs between 1800 and 3000 calories of energy each day. With hard work and sports, this energy requirement can double. Is it possible to obtain usable electricity or heat from this energy expenditure? read more

BlogName11 | 05. July 2010

Energy question of the week: How does a solar cell work?

At present, commercially available solar cells made from polycrystalline silicon operate with an efficiency of 20 percent. Special solar cells composed of other semiconductors such as gallium arsenide have already passed the 40 percent efficiency barrier. In contrast, cells based on organic materials or pigments convert only 10 percent of the sunlight into electrical current at best. All of these use the photovoltaic effect, but what actually happens in the process? read more

BlogName11 | 28. June 2010

Energy question of the week: Can burning ice solve our energy problems?

Crude oil, coal and natural gas are not the only fossil fuels hidden deep below the surface of the Earth. Right around the globe, enormous quantities of methane hydrates can be found as many people already know, especially since Frank Schätzings famous novel 'The Swarm' (Der Schwarm). This white combustible ice consists of water and methane gas. If thawed in a controlled fashion, many billions of tons of methane could be obtained from it. The question is: do methane hydrate have a genuine role to play in our energy future? read more

BlogName11 | 21. June 2010 | 6 Comments

Energy question of the week: Will the trains of the future be faster and more economical?

On 3 April 2007, during a record breaking attempt using a modified train on specially prepared track, a French TGV travelled at 574.8 kilometres per hour through the French Département of Marne – an speed record for railway trains that still stands. In normal service, TGV trains run at around 320 kph. And Germany's 67 ICE3 trains are capable of reaching 300 kilometres per hour. Will the trains of the future be even faster and still be an economical form of transport? read more

BlogName11 | 14. June 2010 | 1 Comment

Energy question of the week: Can solar power be stored?

Solar power stations generate electricity only when it is sunny. So they do not exactly have a great reputation as reliable power providers. But this disadvantage can be overcome with efficient forms of low-cost heat storage. Many ideas are currently being tested, and some of these are even in use. How do storage facilities go about of storing solar power? read more

BlogName11 | 07. June 2010

Energy question of the week: How does one weigh the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide?

Automotive manufacturers are now required to indicate the precise level of carbon dioxide emissions for every new car. Small, low-emission cars seldom exceed 100 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre. Gas-guzzling luxury saloons or SUVs (large off-road vehicles or pickups for example) can emit more than three times these levels into the atmosphere. But carbon dioxide is a gas. How does one actually put a gas on a set of scales? read more

BlogName11 | 31. May 2010 | 1 Comment

Energy question of the week: Is there such a thing as free electricity?

When we pay our electricity bill, we are paying for more than just the operation of wind turbines or nuclear power stations. What with rental for the electricity meter, costs for using the power grids, value-added tax and a tax on electricity, coupled with a surcharge for the preferred sourcing of green power, the final price we pay is effectively double the generation cost. Having said that, is it conceivable that there is such a thing as free electricity in the ever more dynamic power market? read more

BlogName11 | 25. May 2010

Energy question of the week: Can laptops and iPads dispense with power sockets in the future?

'Mobile electricity' - that is, electricity available on the move - is the most valuable form of electrical power. This is why it is worthwhile equipping notebooks and laptops with expensive lithium-ion batteries that need to be recharged at regular intervals by plugging them into power sockets. The iPad, which looks set to spur the market for electronic reader devices, remains uninteresting without its batteries. However, solar cells and hand cranks are already able to generate standalone power for mobile devices. Will these devices be able to cope entirely on their own without power sockets someday? read more

BlogName11 | 17. May 2010 | 4 Comments

Energy question of the week: How much energy is there in the Earth's interior?

Ninety-nine percent of the Earth is hotter than 1000 degrees Celsius. Inside Earth's core, temperatures rise to 7000 degrees. In total, the power within our planet amounts to thousands of billions of watts. This reservoir has its origins in the residual heat dating from the time the Earth was created, roughly 4.6 billion years ago, and in the ongoing radioactive decay of long-lived isotopes of uranium, thorium and potassium. The question we need to ask ourselves is why, given these gigantic amounts of energy, does geothermal power still only account for far less than one percent of our energy usage? read more

BlogName11 | 10. May 2010

Energy question of the week: Can sunlight be used to split water directly into oxygen and hydrogen?

Solar cells are good at converting sunlight directly into electricity. However, they come nowhere close to the efficiency of natural photosynthesis. Using chlorophyll, green plants have mastered the art of producing energy-rich molecules such as sugar and starch from carbon dioxide, water and sunlight. Would it not make sense to harness this natural process to generate energy? read more

BlogName11 | 03. May 2010 | 3 Comments

Energy question of the week: Can modern freight ships sail using wind power?

Rising fuel costs are urging shipowners all over the world to find ways to deliver cargo across the seas more economically. In the 1920s, the German Aerospace Center's predecessor institute developed Flettner rotors. Some 80 years later, a cargo ship is again sailing with rotating cylindrical sails. But is this change worth it? read more

BlogName11 | 26. April 2010 | 3 Comments

Energy question of the week: Does the future of wind power lie in the open seas?

In January 2010, wind farms in Germany had a generating capacity of 25,777 megawatts. This means that almost eight percent of Germany's electricity requirement can be met in a climate-neutral way. However, since land areas exposed to strong winds are limited, both large and small-scale power-generating businesses are jostling for position out in the open sea. This poses a simple question: are offshore wind farms genuinely more efficient? read more

BlogName11 | 21. April 2010 | 8 Comments

Energy question of the week: How much electricity could be generated from ocean currents?

Electricity has been generated from tidal power for decades. Large installations could supply entire towns and cities. However, tides are not the only forces moving water in our seas. Ocean currents also move huge amounts of water all around the globe. Is it worth exploiting this power source? read more

BlogName11 | 12. April 2010

Energy question of the week: Is it possible to fly on nothing but solar power?

In cruise ships, electrical propulsion units – powered by diesel engines – are now standard equipment. Every day, buses with electric motors powered by fuel cells ply the streets of Hamburg. Now the first aircraft powered solely by electric motors are taking off. However, in the quest to find exciting, original and climate-friendly propulsion, are solar cells powerful enough to get an aircraft off the ground? read more

BlogName11 | 06. April 2010 | 2 Comments

Energy question of the week: How is electrical power carried across the sea?

Two trends are emerging for future renewable electricity. In the first, local solar, wind or biomass plants will produce more energy for small communities or single homes. In the second, large amounts of electricity will be generated by solar power stations in desert areas or extensive offshore wind farms, and delivered over long distances to densely populated areas. But how can electrical power be delivered over long distances without large losses? read more

BlogName11 | 29. March 2010

Energy question of the week: How can coal be converted into liquid fuel?

When oil becomes scarce, fuel for aircraft and cars will have to be produced from other sources. Since Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch invented the Fischer-Tropsch process in 1925, synthetic fuels can also be derived indirectly from coal. Countries with large coal deposits, such as South Africa and China, make extensive use of this process. But how does the process work? read more

BlogName11 | 22. March 2010 | 2 Comments

Energy question of the week: Has the Emirate of Abu Dhabi overreached itself with its 'Zero Emission City' of Masdar City?

By 2016, the world's first climate-neutral city - Masdar City - is set to emerge from the sands of the Arabian desert. By that date, 50,000 people in Masdar City should be able to meet their energy needs from solar power stations, to move between their 'intelligent-design' houses in electrically-powered cars, and to recycle all their household waste. Nevertheless, isolated cases of Masdar managers resigning their posts are starting to fuel rumours that this ambitious project may, quite literally, be running itself back into the sand. Were the goals of this 22-billion-dollar project perhaps set too high? read more

BlogName11 | 15. March 2010 | 8 Comments

Energy question of the week: Can lasers unleash the Sun's power to create a fusion reactor?

Low-cost, safe, climate-friendly and inexhaustible – many energy experts view nuclear fusion as the power source of the future. Having said that, scientists believe that it will take another 40 to 50 years before the first fusion power station is in operation. Hot plasma, trapped within a strong magnetic field is currently the most promising way forward, and Europeans in particular are focusing on this concept. However, might it not be much simpler and quicker to find a way to unleash the fire of the Sun by means of powerful lasers that American physicists are working with? read more

BlogName11 | 08. March 2010 | 2 Comments

Energy question of the week: What makes a power grid intelligent?

A closely-interconnected grid of power lines and wires 1.7 million kilometres in length and running from power stations to wall sockets delivers a reliable power supply throughout Germany. It has evolved and been maintained over decades, extended in leaps and bounds, and virtually no-one gives any real thought to the interplay between generator and consumer, power frequency and high voltages, sub-stations and transformers. Now, in response to the rising proportion of electricity generated from renewable sources, the term Smart Grid (the 'intelligent' power grid) is now coming into common parlance. Was, and is, our existing power grid really so 'dumb'? read more