Articles for "Energy supply"

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Energy | 09. August 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 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

Energy | 31. May 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 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

Energy | 25. May 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken

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

Energy | 08. March 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 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