'The Future of Energy' Year of Science: A different question every week, 1 answer and 150 comments
During 'The Future of Energy' Year of Science, DLR prepared one question each week on the topic of energy, answered by the science journalist, Jan Oliver Löfken. Users were invited to post their questions and comments on the blog, and we responded as they came in – we received a total of 150 contributions. Read 51 posts on our Energy Blog and see how researchers want to safeguard our energy supply in the future and what policies are being put in place for this in the world of politics.
We wanted to keep the range of topics as broad as possible: from the EU's energy strategy to peculiar research projects like a t-shirt that became a power station. The aim this year was to examine energy topics in different ways, keeping it exciting, insightful and accessible to all.
Thank you to all the readers for your interest. You'll still be able to access the facts collected over the year on DLR's energy blog, available in English and German.
Future investment is the key to energy research
Energy researchers and politicians used the 'the Future of Energy' Year of Science to collect information and discuss this future task, arguably the most important one we face today. Both professional groups have been called upon as follows: energy researchers must develop the vision they believe in and bring together countless pieces of the puzzle to made concrete, feasible plans from that vision. With their decisions and funding, politicians make the key provisions: which projects and practical solutions are to go ahead based on this vision, and in what timeframe. 2010 was a busy year, the German Federal Government passed its energy policy, the EU presented its energy strategy and next spring, the German Federal Government will announce its sixth energy research programme. This will help politicians set out provisions for a safer and more ecofriendly energy supply in the future.
Last visual check: DLR employee Miriam Ebert checks that the ceramic fibre protection around the radiation detector is sealed well. The Solhyco testing power station is built on top of the 30-meter tall solar tower on the Plataforma Solar de Almería in southern Spain. Image: DLR.
The DESERTEC project is an example of how visions take shape. Based on a study commissioned in 2003 by the Club of Rome and carried out by DLR scientists, it is a plan to use solar-thermal power plants in the desert to create electricity and transfer it to consumer hubs. It's essentially a visionary idea considering that the desert regions have neither the power plants nor the power networks required. And yet the scientists were able to convince the industry that the project is possible given the level of today's technology. Renewable energy from the desert in North Africa, the Middle East and Europe would be a sustainable, win-win situation for North Africa and Europe. With the founding of the DESERTEC Industrial Initiative (Dii) in 2009, the economy was also convinced, and at the end of 2010, plans for solar-thermal power plants and a cross-regional power network are already in full swing.
Despite many people showing the will to save energy, our constant hunger for energy means that there is a need to act. From a global viewpoint, the population is rising, as are per-capita energy consumption rates, making it all the more important for energy researchers and politicians to set themselves these challenges and to look for solutions. Energy researchers will provide the impetus for this in this new year.
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