Power generation is a lucrative business, not only for the major power supply companies, but also for an increasing number of households and companies. No other country has more installed photovoltaic capacity than Germany, accounting for 21 percent. Compact combined heat and power plants, affordable fuel cells, biogas plants and other systems make independent power generation interesting and, more importantly, affordable. In addition to this, diversifying the power supply can also have environmental benefits: Almost one third of the electricity consumed in Germany is generated from wind, solar or biomass according to the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy .
Until now, electricity consumed locally from in-house solar energy systems and small combined heat and power plants accounts for just 0.6 percent of electricity consumed - that will soon change. Even in conservative scenarios, grid operators predict high double-digit growth for solar energy systems alone. Among other things, reasons include falling prices for energy generation solutions - and state subsidies.
Electricity savings totaling billions
Economy pays, for companies in particular. Innovative solutions like power recovery from conveyor systems or using waste heat from machines allow significant power cost reductions. "In the electric drive sector alone, the use of energy-saving technologies would facilitate annual electricity savings of 27.5 billion kilowatt hours," according to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute (Hall 2, Stand C22). In a project by Bosch Rexroth (Hall 17, Stand B38), the packaging manufacturer reduced its power consumption 25 percent by recovering braking energy in the conveyor system.
At Darmstadt University of Technology (Hall 2, Stand B25), researchers are currently working on a model of an energy-efficient factory for the metalworking industry. With the combination of energy management, efficient processing and energy recovery, the model will consume roughly 40 percent less energy than the areas which operated separately until now.
A new approach is needed
However, energy generation and recovery are not the only ways to reduce costs, rethinking process workflows can also reduce electricity costs. For example, at SGL Carbon (Hall 6, Stand E46) from Meitingen in Bavaria, the production process is no longer the only thing that influences the power-intensive operation of the large graphite furnaces. The energy-intensive heating-up phase of the furnaces can be shifted within a certain timeframe. That enables SGL to call capacity on the power grid operators' nationwide auction platform and purchase it when it is cheapest. "In the energy system of the future, the traditional roles of power suppliers and consumers will cease to apply. In future, both will help stabilize our power grids," says Dr. Thomas Müller , who is responsible for energy procurement Europe-wide for the SGL Group.
While the potential savings in production are often obvious, companies are now taking alternative approaches in other areas too. Innovative energy concepts can also be found in the booming IT sector. For example, Dresden-based cloud service provider Cloud & Heat installs its servers in sealed cabinets in private homes. The thermal energy generated by the servers is used to heat the apartments. According to the provider , over 100 of the server heating systems are already in use.
And more can still be done: With its domestic lithium-ion battery, e-mobility pioneer Tesla is currently making massive inroads onto the market - and could revolutionize it : Powered by solar electricity from an in-house photovoltaic system, the battery easily meets the electricity demand of a four-person household in the dark evening hours. With a peak output of three kilowatts - enough for a refrigerator, washing machine, vacuum cleaner and light - it could even make power supply from the mains grid superfluous.
Power supply of the future
Visitors to Energy , the world's largest energy trade fair, at HANNOVER MESSE, can discover new ideas and solutions for the future of power supply. Talk to the leading experts from the industry and experience innovative technologies from around the world, technologies which give your company opportunities to make the most of the energy transition. In the Integrated Energy Plaza (Hall 27), you can catch a glimpse of the future of power supply today.