How are we going to meet the dramatically increasing demand for energy? And what is new about the new electric age? These are the questions that Peter Löscher posed and, in outline, answered in his opening address to the 15th Erlanger Technikgespräch. The right energy mix, across-the-board efficiency increases and smart grids will make it possible to rebuild the energy system. Siemens’ Environmental Portfolio offers a wide array of solutions in all these fields. In fiscal 2010, products and solutions from the Portfolio enabled customers to cut their CO2 emissions by 270 million tons – an amount equal to the total annual CO2 emissions of Hong Kong, London, New York, Tokyo, Delhi and Singapore.
In the next few decades, renewable energy sources like wind and the sun will play an ever-greater role in the energy mix. But in addition to the systematic expansion of renewable energy technologies, fossil-fuel power plants worldwide will also have to be modernized – using CO2 separation and integrated coal gasification, for example. To increase efficiency, technologies are necessary all along the energy conversion chain – innovations like low-loss electricity highways that may be up to 2,000 kilometers long; energy-saving industrial facilities; energy-saving building, transportation and lighting systems; and the world’s most efficient gas turbines. If, for example, all the combined-cycle power plants in the U.S. were equipped with new Siemens gas turbines, the additional electricity generated every year would be sufficient to meet the needs of 25 million Americans – without increasing CO2 emissions. Optimizing the energy system with smart grids that also optimize the fit between power supply and power demand is another key lever. “In the future, we’ll require intelligent networks that bundle and distribute electricity in more and more small, decentralized generation units. Power grids shouldn’t end at national borders. We need something like a European energy community,” said Löscher.
In the subsequent panel discussion, Peter Löscher, the experts Reinhard German and Lothar Frey from the School of Engineering at Nuremberg FAU and Richard Hausmann from Siemens’ Smart Grid Applications Project expressed their views on the path into the new electric age, global developments and the challenges they pose as well as the technological solutions required by industry and their financial viability.
The Erlanger Technikgespräche comprise a series of events organized jointly by Siemens and the School of Engineering at Friedrich Alexander University in Erlangen and Nuremberg, Germany. The conferences, at which distinguished experts present and subsequently discuss key aspects of science and technology, have been held twice a year since 2003. Prominent speakers have included Ekkehard Schulz, Berthold Leibinger, Jürgen Mittelstraß, Heinrich v. Pierer and Joachim Milberg. Siegfried Russwurm (member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG and CEO of the company’s Industry Sector) and Reinhard German (School of Engineering at the FAU Erlangen and Nuremberg) are the events’ patrons.