Energy Blog | 08. November 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 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

Energy Blog | 02. November 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 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

Energy Blog | 25. October 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 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


Energy Blog | 18. October 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 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

Energy Blog | 11. October 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 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

Energy Blog | 04. October 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 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

Energy Blog | 27. September 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 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

Energy Blog | 17. September 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 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

Energy Blog | 13. September 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 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

Energy Blog | 03. September 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 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