According to the Renewable Energy Agency, renewable energies accounted for over 36 percent of consumption in the electricity sector in 2017. In the heating sector, the share was 13 percent and in the transport sector just 5.2 percent. For the energy sector as a whole, this means that only just under 15 percent of final energy consumption was generated from renewable sources in 2016. According to EnergyAgency.NRW, the energy turnaround therefore holds far greater potential in terms of both energy generation and energy efficiency. If energy generation from renewable energies is thought of in an integrated way, i.e. taking into account different types of energy (e.g. electricity and heat) and possible uses, such as process heat, mobility, new opportunities for value creation also open up.
The current makes the difference
When looking at the "mobility" sector, it becomes clear that an environmentally friendly change in transport can only succeed in connection with renewable energies. Even if every car owner were to switch to an electric drive, this would not necessarily result in added value for the environment. Only if the electricity to operate the vehicle comes from renewable sources is resource-conserving mobility possible. According to NATURSTROM (Dr. Ernst Raupach), electric mobility based on coal or nuclear power is more harmful to the environment overall than combustion engines.
Energy providers are already showing a whole range of activities in the growth market of electromobility - from infrastructure projects, to sharing offers for e-vehicles, to special end-customer tariffs. For example, NATURSTROM has set up the e-load bike sharing system "Donk-EE" in Cologne: Here, 60 electric cargo bikes can be rented around the clock - quite simply via online identification and smartphone app. The system can also be used to operate normal bicycles, which is the next step.
Coupled holds better
Smart coupling enables efficient utilization of renewable energies even in the case of surplus production of renewable energies. Especially with regard to wind and solar energy, linking the sectors makes sense. These plants produce different amounts of energy depending on weather conditions. The electricity generated cannot necessarily be used during peak load periods - plants have to be shut down. Use in other sectors therefore makes sense in order to relieve electricity grids and not lose the energy produced.
Power-to-X systems can offer solutions: surplus electricity from renewable energies is converted into hydrogen, methane or liquid fuels, and the products can be better stored or used further in other sectors. This is already happening in the power-to-gas plant of Windgas Haßfurt GmbH. The state-of-the-art plant at the Mainhafen harbor converts surplus electricity from the nearby Sailershäuser Wald citizens' wind farm and other wind energy and solar plants into renewable hydrogen. Each year, the container-sized electrolyzer feeds the equivalent of about one million kilowatt hours of 'wind gas' into the public natural gas grid, as well as using it to produce electricity and heat for a nearby industrial plant. Projects like the wind gas plant in Hassfurt are important pilot projects because they demonstrate energy conversion that can be put into practice. They are an important building block for a successful energy transition, as they enable renewable energies to be stored over the long term and contribute to security of supply even with high shares of fluctuating energies in the power grids.
Sector coupling will be the topic of this year's Energy Transition Forum on October 28 in Bonn: In addition to the above-mentioned projects, other exciting insights will be provided: Frank Grewe (2G Energietechnik GmbH), among others, will speak on the use of synthetic gases for the security of supply of the future. Dr. Ernst Raupach from Naturstrom AG will provide insights into the electromobility sector. Sector coupling in urban areas will be discussed in more detail by Dr. Dietrich Schmidt (Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics and Energy System Technology IEE).