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of the Future
The Magazine for Research and Innovation | Special Edition: Green Technologies Renewable Energy
Tomorrow’s Power Grids
Energy Efficiency
Solutions for a Sustainable, Low-Carbon Future
How Vehicles, Cities and Alterna-
tive Energy Sources will Interact
Squeezing Better Results out of Today’s Technologies
Pictures of the Future Contents
Energy Efficiency
Smart GridsRenewable Energy
12 Scenario 2030
The Electric Caravan
14 Solar Energy – Desertec
Power from the Deserts
20 Offshore Wind
High-Altitude Harvest
23 Floating Wind Farms
Tapping an Ocean of Wind
24 Wind Turbines
Recipe for Rotor Blades
27 Facts and Forecasts
Why Renewable Energy is Needed
28 Renewable Resources
Energy for Developing Countries
29 Interview Prof. Oberheitmann
Why China Wants to Conserve Energy
30 Interview with Prof. Wan Gang
China’s Minister of Science
32 Biomass
Flaming Scrap
66 Scenario 2025
Energy-Saving Sleuth
68 Urban Energy Analysis
Cities: A Better Energy Picture
71 Trends: Energy for Everyone
Light at the End of the Tunnel
73 World’s Largest Gas Turbine
Unmatched Efficiency
76 Coal-Fired Power in China
Olympic Efficiencies
78 Steam Turbine Materials
Preparing for a Fiery Future
82 CO
Coal’s Cleaner Outlook
85 CO
Testing Eternal Incarceration
88 Power Plant Upgrades
New Life for Old Plants
90 Steel Plants
Efficiency Catches Fire
92 Mining Electrification
Monster Drives
94 Airports
Flight from Carbon Dioxide
96 Facts and Forecasts
More Efficient Buildings
97 Energy Efficient Buildings
Nature is their Model
100 Intelligent Sensors
When Buildings Come to Life
104 Lamp Life Cycles Let there be Savings
107 UN Emission Certificates
India’s new Light
108 Interview: Rajendra K. Pachauri
Nobel Prize Winner & IPCC Chairman
109 Off-Grid Solutions
New Sources of Hope
110 Efficient Appliances
Miracle in the Laundry Room
113 Facts and Forecasts
The Energy-Efficiency Pay Off
114 Self-Sufficient Alpine Hut
Forecasts that Come Home
116 Combined Heat and Power
How to Own a Power Plant
117 Energy Storage
Piggybanks for Power
118 Rail Transport
High-Speed Success Story
121 Rail System Life Cycles
Timely Trains
124 Vienna
A Model of Mobility
4 Interviews and Facts
Dr. Steven Chu
Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber
The Sources of Greenhouse Gases 8 Siemens Environmental Portfolio
Climate Change is Powering Growth 134 Crisis and Climate Protection
Engines of Tomorrow’s Growth
164 Venture Capital: Green Dwarfs 126 Environmental City Studies
London: Shrinking Footprints Munich: A CO
-Free City
Pictures of the Future Special Edition on Green Technologies | Fall 2009 3
38 Scenario 2020
New World
40 Trends: Tomorrow’s Power Grids
Switching on the Vision
44 HVDC Transmission
China’s River of Power
48 Energy Storage
Trapping the Wind
50 Interview with Dan Arvizu
Director of the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory
52 Intelligent Buildings
Plugging Buildings into the Grid
54 Smart Meters
Transparent Network
56 Virtual Power Plants
Power in Numbers
58 Facts and Forecasts
Growing Demand for Smart Grids
60 Electromobility
From Wind to Wheels
Pictures of the Future | Editorial
2 Pictures of the Future Special Edition on Green Technologies | Fall 2009
n recent weeks there have been signs
that the world may have left the worst of
the financial and economic crisis behind —
and already some people are playing down
the causes of the worst crisis in 80 years.
However, we shouldn't ignore a simple
fact: activities aimed exclusively at short-
term gains don't create long-term value! This is particularly true when it comes
to climate change. Current efforts to limit
warming are based on the expectation that
the global community will set course to-
ward a sustainable future. The aim is to im-
prove the balance between environmental,
economic and social interests.
One of the most significant factors af-
fecting the achievement of this goal is how
Peter Löscher is President and CEO of Siemens AG.
vehicles at night, when electricity is
cheaper, and sell it during the day at peak
prices. Electric vehicles will also have an
important stabilizing function. Just a few
hundred thousand electric vehicles con-
nected to the power grid would provide
more “balancing power” than Germany
currently needs to cover its demand peaks.
The most reliable, cheapest, and most
environmentally-friendly source of energy
is reduced consumption. That’s why there’s
a huge need for energy-efficient technolo-
gies (p. 66-125). Experts expect worldwide
demand for such technologies to grow by
13 percent annually in the coming decade.
A large part of our product range is aimed
at this future market, which could be worth
more than €2 trillion by 2020. We provide
the most energy-efficient and high-per-
formance power plant turbines. We help
our customers to reduce energy consump-
tion in their buildings by as much as 40
percent. We've developed industrial drive
systems that save up to 75 percent of elec-
tricity, thus recouping their purchase price
within 18 months. That’s the positive side
effect of energy-efficient technologies. Be-
cause the customers' energy costs are re-
duced, their competitiveness increases. The importance of renewable energy
sources will grow considerably in the next
20 years (p. 12-33). According to calcula-
tions made by the International Energy
Agency and Siemens, in 2030 we will be
harvesting about 13 times more energy
from wind and 140 times more solar en-
ergy than we do today. In just six hours,
the world’s deserts receive as much energy
from the sun as the world's entire popula-
tion consumes in a year. Our goal must be
to capture as much of this energy as possi-
ble and to transport it with as few losses as
possible to the places where it is needed. To help achieve this goal, we have made
acquisitions to enhance our leadership in
the area of solar thermal technology. Today, Siemens is the only company that
can offer all of the core technologies for
harvesting and transmitting solar energy
from a single source. This underscores our
claim to be the leading technology partner
in the Desertec project. Here, the aim is to
improve the energy supply in North Africa
while covering 15 to 20 percent of Europe's
energy needs from wind and solar power
plants in the Mediterranean region by the
middle of this century. We will do our share
to ensure that this “Apollo project of the
21st century” becomes a reality. Cover: Siemens recently completed
construction of the world’s largest
offshore wind farm 30 km from the
Danish coast. Outfitted with 91 turbines, Horns Rev II will pump 210 MW of electrical power into Denmark’s grid —enough to supply
over 136,000 households. Advanced sensing will minimize maintenance. we deal with energy. Because of population
growth and increasing prosperity, our
global energy needs are expected to grow
by 60 percent by 2030. During the same
period, we must dramatically reduce green-
house gas emissions. To “square the circle,”
we need to act quickly and comprehen-
sively at two levels: We have to generate,
distribute and use energy more efficiently.
And we must expand the proportion of
power generated from renewable energy
sources. On both of these levels, no other
company can compete with Siemens. The
value of our certified environmental port -
folio rose from €19 billion in business year
2008 to €23 billion in 2009. In this special
issue of Pictures of the Future we've assem-
bled examples from this “green” portfolio. One key topic involves the intelligent
electrical networks of the future — so-
called “smart grids” (p. 38-63). These will
enable us to tap and feed in energy at any
point in the network. They thus represent a vital step on the road to a future system
of power generation that will be much
more diversified and decentralized. Smart grids will also open the door to
a society based on zero-emission electric
vehicles (p. 60). These vehicles will be more
than just a means of transportation.They
will be smart, mobile energy storage units
that will even generate income for their
owners, who will be able to recharge their
The Road Toward a Sustainable Future
Interview | Hans Joachim Schellnhuber
Prof. Hans Joachim
Schellnhuber is Director
of the Institute for Climate
Impact Research in Pots-
dam.Schellnhuber, 59,
was one of the first re-
searchers to investigate
the consequences of cli-
mate change. The physi-
cist was also Research
Director at the Tyndall
Centre for Climate
Change in Norwich (UK)
from 2001 to 2005. The
exceptional value of his
work was officially rec-
ognized when the Queen
named him “Honorary
Commander of the Most
Excellent Order of the
British Empire” (CBE).
German Chancellor An-
gela Merkel appointed
Schellnhuber to serve as
Advisor on Climate Issues
to the Federal Govern-
ment in 2007. Interview conducted in
Spring, 2007. 4 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2007 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2007 5
Are greater efficiency and renewable energy enough?
Not on their own. In particu-
lar, we’re going to have to use carbon seques-
tration. That means whenever carbon is com-
busted, the CO
must be captured rather than
being emitted into the atmosphere. This is
most effective in biomass power plants —
that way, the net amount of carbon in the at-
mosphere is reduced. In addition, the operat-
ing life of existing nuclear power plants could
be extended, since their associated dangers
are low compared to those of global warming.
On the other hand, their contribution to gen-
erating capacity cannot be boosted substan-
tially without ramping up the industry to reprocess spent plutonium — or building
thousands of new nuclear power plants. In my
opinion, however, the gains from extending
the operating life of nuclear facilities should
be channeled into developing alternative energy sources. Do you think the industry will cooperate
in this reorientation of the world’s energy
Yes, if conditions are right.
Governments must establish guidelines and set targets. I think it’s sensible for each country
to draw up its own roadmap, and then to combine these into a kind of world road atlas.
There’s no escaping the fact that we need to
halve global CO
emissions by 2050, compared
to 1990 levels. And industrial countries should
really be reducing carbon emissions by 60 to
80 percent, because they’ve produced much
more CO
than developing countries.
How effective is emissions trading?
The concept calls for trade in emissions allowances, whereby the state deliberately ensures a stringent market. That’s
fine, in principle, but it can’t remain an isolated
measure. Important, too, is greater use of innovative technology, although it pays to remember that the biggest gains are always a
result of reducing energy waste. London alone
produces as much CO
as all of Portugal. Yet its
increasing energy demand can be completely
attributed to the increasing use of appliances
that consume power when in standby mode.
That can be changed, as every engineer knows.
What’s the short term roadmap?
2007 and 2008 are decisive
years, because the pressure will be on to de-
velop a successor agreement to Kyoto. Then,
over the next five to ten years, important deci-
sions are going to have to be made regarding
the modernization of a lot of power plants.
What can a global company like Siemens
do about the climate challenge?
German companies have the
strengths needed to cope with climate change.
Don’t forget, people used to poke fun at Ger-
mans because of our concern for the environ-
ment. But our industry can help launch a new
industrial revolution — and even post good
earnings in the process — which will one day
lead to a zero-emissions society. Invest now,
and you’ll later have the advantage of being
able to supply your technology to the major
markets of the future, such as China and India. Where does the U.S. fit into this equation?
And do you think it will start to control its
greenhouse emissions before it’s too late?
Countries like India and China,
which are consuming increasing amounts of
energy, will continue to point the finger at the
U.S. as long as it fails to cut emissions. But I
think there’s a good chance that policy in Wash-
ington will change. The U.S. probably won’t
sign up to the Kyoto Protocol, but it could end
up setting similar targets. The U.S. might
change as Europe has. Here, many people did-
n’t want to recognize warming. They thought
there would be another 50 years to go before
the train would derail. But today I sense a
growing interest among people.
Has the Stern Report brought about a real
sea change in opinion?
Years of warnings from scien-
tists have weakened those who argued that
global warming was a fantasy. Now Stern has
managed to tear down the last remaining walls
of resistance by taking the facts and calculating
their economic impact. His arguments will
carry a lot of weight, because when it comes
to politics, economic arguments count.
Interview conducted by Jeanne Rubner
In his report, British economist Sir Nicholas
Stern warns that the world economy is in
danger. Stern says the concentration of
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
must be kept below 550 parts per million
(ppm) if global warming is to be limited
to a maximum of two to three degrees
Celsius. Do you agree?
Two to three degrees — that
doesn’t sound like much, but it is. The temper-
ature rise between the last ice age and the cur -
rent temperate period was only five degrees,
yet what a difference those five degrees have
made for the world! But let me spell out in de-
tail what the Stern Report says. Even if we
meet the 550 ppm target, we will still face a
90-percent probability of global warming of
more than two degrees. That’s pretty alarming.
I would tighten Stern’s demand and stipulate
an upper limit of 450 ppm. That way, there’s a
50-percent probability that global warming
will be limited to two degrees, although a 50-
50 chance is not particularly reassuring either.
Basically, to be sure of meeting the two-degree
limit, we would have to cut emissions to below
400 ppm in the long term.
Why two degrees? Is that, so to speak, the point of no return if we are to get a handle on global warming?
It’s not a hard and fast line,
but once we cross it, the damage becomes
rapidly uncontrollable. The temperature of the
planet would increase to a greater degree than
at any other time during the last 20 million
years — all within just one century. That
would be a real roller-coaster ride for the
earth, an unprecedented phenomenon.
Would global warming that significantly
exceeded two degrees really have a dramatic impact?
Yes, it would. For a start, the
sea ice in the Arctic and the ice on Greenland
would melt completely, and the ice in the
Antarctic would melt in part. In the long term,
sea levels would rise enormously as a result.
We’d have to evacuate practically all coastal areas; human civilization as we know it would
have to be reinvented. What’s more, because
of the direct CO
transfer from the atmosphere,
the oceans would become more acidic, and
marine life would also have to adapt. Second,
the atmosphere would be more heavily laden
with water vapor and energy, resulting in in-
creasingly violent storms. Third, the variation
in precipitation patterns would become more
extreme, meaning even less rain in places
where there is already little rainfall, and vice
versa. Just one consequence of this would be
increasing desertification. And fourth, because
of the greater temperature difference between
land and sea, Europe would face the prospect
of a monsoon effect. How much would it cost to meet the
two-degree target?
According to Stern, we would
have to invest around one percent of world
GDP in order to limit global warming to be-
tween two and three degrees. His report relies
heavily on model calculations produced by our
institute as part of an international comparative
project. We adopted new methods of economic
analysis, because earlier studies on the costs of
protecting the atmosphere, mainly originating
in the U.S., were based on false premises. They
barely took account of technological advances
in the use of environmentally friendly energy
sources and therefore came to an unrealistically
high figure. According to our results, even the
cost of sticking to the two-degree limit is less
than one percent of global economic output.
Stern has factored in a safety margin, making
his calculation more pessimistic than ours.
And what would be the costs of doing
nothing at all?
At least ten times higher than
the costs of protecting the atmosphere, that is
to say somewhere between ten and 20 percent
of world GDP.
What concrete measures can we take?
Essentially, the world’s energy
system needs to be put on a new, low-carbon
diet. That means, first of all, conserving energy
and using it more efficiently, and, secondly,
greatly increasing our use of renewable
sources — including wind and solar power,
and geothermal energy and biomass. By far
the most cost-effective method here is simply
to use less energy. The British town of Woking,
for example, has reduced its CO
emissions by
almost 80 percent over the last ten years, saving a lot of money in the process. There’s
tremendous potential here. For instance, thermal insulation for buildings, low-energy
lights, low-consumption vehicles, and lots
more. Developing renewable energy sources
is, by comparison, more expensive, but it is imperative in the long term.
The Cost of Climate Change
According to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair,the 650-page Stern Report, which was
submitted on October 30 of last year, was the most important document produced during his entire
time in office. The author, Sir Nicholas Stern, was a government advisor to Blair. Blair himself has de-
fined climate change as a key political challenge. Indeed, the World Economic Forum in Davos at the
end of January of this year supported Blair’s point of view, revealing a real consensus, particularly
among participants from leading industrial nations, that action on climate change is urgently needed. According to Stern, a former Chief Economist at the World Bank, if the concentration of greenhouse
gases in the atmosphere isn’t kept below 550 parts per million (ppm), there will be grave conse-
quences for the world economy. By way of comparison, the level of greenhouse gases at the beginning
of the Industrial Revolution was 280 ppm, while today’s figure is 430 ppm — and currently rising by
2.3 ppm a year. If we succeed in limiting greenhouse gases to 550 ppm, there will be global warming
of between two and three
degrees Celsius, the maxi-
mum increase that climate
researchers still consider
endurable. This goal can
be achieved only if the current rise in emissions of
and other greenhouse
gases is halted by 2020,
and thereafter reduced by
around two percent per
year. That will cost money
— one percent of world
GDP per year, according to Stern’s estimate. Yet inaction would be much
more expensive. A tem -
perature increase of five
degrees Celsius could end
up costing as much as one
fifth of world GDP per year. 2000 2020 2040 2060 2080 2100
Global emissions (in billion tons of CO
equivalents per year)
Greenhouse gas emissions peaking
in 2015, followed by a reduction of 1.0% p.a.
in 2020, followed by a reduction of 2.5% p.a.
in 2030, followed by a reduction of 4.0% p.a.
in 2040, followed by a reduction of 4.5% p.a.
Strategies for stabilizing greenhouse gases at a level of 550 ppm.
The longer the delay before such measures are introduced, the
greater the rise in emissions until that point — and the more radi-
cally emissions will have to fall annually. The goal by 2050 is a 25-
percent reduction from the current level — with a world economy
that will be three or four times larger than today’s (i.e., they will
have to fall by 75 percent per unit of GDP).
Source: Stern Report. Based on: Schellnhuber et al., Cambridge
Why Carbon Dioxide Emissions Need to be Cut in Half by 2050 A
bout one third of the approximately 44.2 billion
tons of CO
e that are emitted annually around the
world as greenhouse gases comes from agriculture,
forestry, land clearing measures and waste. “CO
e” refers
to CO
equivalents. Other greenhouse gases — including
methane, laughing gas, fluorocarbons and industrial
gases (e.g. sulfur hexafluoride) — are converted into
these equivalents to show their global warming potential
compared to carbon dioxide (CO
). Methane’s global
warming potential, for example, is 21 times that of CO
with one ton of methane corresponding to 21 tons of
e. More than two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emis-
sions (currently about 28 billion tons of CO
e) are ener-
gy-related, meaning they are caused by people’s energy
consumption. The emissions result from electricity gen-
eration in power plants, generation of heat, and fuel
combustion by transport vehicles. In Germany, about 87
percent of greenhouse gases result from energy use,
while the remaining 13 percent come from other sour -
ces, including agriculture and the chemicals industry. Power generation is the source of nearly 40 percent
of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The largest
The Sources of Greenhouse Gases | Facts and Forecasts
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2007 7
Source: IEA World Energy Outlook 2008
Source: IEA World Energy Outlook 2008
Source: IEA, Germanwatch — Klimaschutzindex 2009. Reference value: energy-related CO
South Korea
Share …
of total world CO
of total world primary
energy consumption
of total world gross domestic product
of total world population
Top 10 CO
Energy-related CO
emissions per capita and year (in tons)
Population (in millions)
North America
South America
Africa / Middle East
Regional Distribution of Energy-
Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions The size of each circle corresponds to the total emissions
of the region in question, and is computed by multiplying
per capita emissions and population.
6 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008
Dr. Steven Chu, 61, is the 12th United States
Secretary of Energy.
Before his appointment
he was director of the
Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory in
Berkeley, California. He was also Professor of
Physics and of Molecular
and Cell Biology at UC,
Berkeley. While at
Stanford University his
work led to the Nobel
Prize in Physics in 1997.
Interview conducted in Spring, 2008.
Are we on the edge of a climate crisis?
Chu: Climate change is a real threat to our
long-term future. The issue is, what will happen if temperatures go up two degrees,
four degrees, six degrees Celsius and so on? A six degree reduction in average global temperature is the difference between what
we have today and what was experienced during the Ice Age. And six degrees on the
plus side would also be a very different world.
The glaciers on Greenland would have a good
chance of melting away. Parts of Antarctica
would melt. If these things happen, sea levels would increase by seven to ten meters.
Bangladesh would be half underwater. What’s
more, the glacial watershed storage systems
that our economies are based on will be
threatened. There will be increased species
extinction. And there are other things that we can’t really measure at this point. For
instance, we don’t know what the tipping
point is for the release of the CO
that is
locked in the tundra of Siberia and Canada.
This is actually a biological question because
there are bacteria in the tundra that will
become active at a certain temperature. But
we don’t know what temperature. When they
come back to life they will release methane
and CO
in such quantities that it will dwarf
the amount of greenhouse gases that humans
are putting out now. What can we do to avert global warming?
Chu:I think the single most important thing
we can do is to put a price on carbon. This can be a cap and trade system, a tax or what-
ever. But it has to be a very clear signal, and it needs to be implemented without loop-
holes. If the next U.S. president makes energy and climate change an initiative the
way Kennedy made it an initiative to reach the moon, this would go a long way to solving
these problems.
What other steps should be taken?
Chu:First of all, we should mandate efficien-
cies in things like computers and consumer appliances. Second, we should require that
before a house can be sold or even rented, the owner must provide a statement from utility companies certifying gas and electricity
usage for the last 12 months. This would
allow buyers and renters to compare energy
requirements for different buildings. Guess
what this would do? It would encourage
homeowners at least one year before deciding to sell or rent out their property to seal major leaks, put in more insulation,
and possibly install more energy-efficient
heaters, air conditioners, etc. This would also
help home owners and builders to do a better
initial job of making new homes energy efficient because they would appear more
attractive to prospective buyers. What would
this cost? Almost nothing. The utility compa-
nies already have records of electricity and gas use on every home. So why not provide
this information to homeowners as a feedback
mechanism? What technologies offer the greatest
hope for a sustainable energy future?
Chu:I think we should take a fresh look at geothermal from the local level with the use
of better designed heat pumps, but also at the utility-generation level where you can
enhance its effect by introducing a heat transfer fluid such as water or CO
. The reason for this is that anywhere you go, if you dig deep enough, you will find heat. Even if you only go down a few meters you
get very stable temperatures. The earth is
cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. So you can think about heat pumps
that will cool you in the summer and warm
you in the winter. I think photovoltaics, solar
thermal and biofuels are also getting a new
look. There are also artificial photosynthetic
systems that allow you to take electricity or
sunlight and make a chemical fuel. In the long term, artificial photosynthesis will supply the world’s transportation fuel needs.
While we will soon develop batteries to power plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles, it will be a while before we get trains and trucks that work on the same principle. Hence, in the foreseeable future, we will need a high energy-density transportation fuel that can be provided by an artificial photosynthetic system that requires far less
water than fuels based on growing plants or
algae. This is a technology we are going to
have to master.
Interview conducted by Arthur F. Pease
Interview | Steven Chu
Prescriptions for a Threatened Planet
O 6%
Industrial gases
: methane (e.g. from cattle)
O: nitrous oxide (laughing gas, e.g. from power plants
and vehicle emissions)
Industrial gases: fluorocarbons (e.g. from refrigeration systems), sulfur hexafluoride (e.g. used as an insulator gas)
Major Sources of Greenhouse
Gases. One Fifth Are Not
From Carbon Dioxide
share of CO
2 from power plants results from turning fos-
sil fuels into usable energy such as electricity and district
heating; a small share is also generated during the facil-
ities’ construction and by the supply of fuels. The cumu-
lative CO
emissions of lignite power plants, for example,
are about 1,000 grams per kilowatt-hour (g/kWh) of elec-
tricity; hard coal plants produce 780 g/kWh. And the
atmosphere even feels the effect of nuclear power
plants, which give off small amounts (around 25 g/kWh)
of CO
from uranium mining and enrichment.
Photovoltaic facilities account for about 100 g/kWh of
, due to the production of solar cells, modules and
inverters. Wind plants (20 g/kWh) and hydroelectric facil-
ities (4 g/kWh), by contrast, have very low CO
emissions. A look at the regional distribution of energy-related
emissions shows the biggest shares are from the U.S.
and China (about 20 percent each), followed by Europe
(14.5 percent), Russia (nearly 6 percent), India (4.5 per-
cent) and Japan (4.3 percent). According to the IEA,
energy-related emissions will rise by almost 50 percent
to about 40 billion tons of CO
by 2030 if countermea-
sures aren’t taken. As the world’s largest coal consumer,
China is expected to produce twice as much CO
as the
U.S. by 2020. But China’s emissions are still low, seen on
a per capita basis: about five tons of CO
per year, com-
pared to roughly 7.8 in Europe and 19 tons in the U.S.
Sylvia Trage
Non-energy use
Other energy sector
Power generation
26.9 billion
tons of CO
per year
Energy-Related CO
2 Emissions
by Key Sectors
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2008 9
Pictures of the Future | Environmental Portfolio
8 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2008
Why Climate Change Is Powering Growth
Siemens’ leadership in products and solutions designed to protect the environment and the climate is worth a bundle. In fiscal year 2009 the company posted sales of €23 billion in this area and helped its customers reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 210 million metric tons.
ust about everyone today agrees that climate change is threatening
both the environment and the global economy. In the summer of
2008, the heads of the leading industrialized nations — the G8 —
pledged to work to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050. This is
also the target being pushed by climate experts on the Intergovernmen-
tal Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It’s clearly time for the world to act.
According to a study conducted by British economist Sir Nicholas Stern,
the consequences of extreme weather or a rise in sea levels could im-
pact the global economy and necessitate expenditures of between five
and 20 percent of gross world product (GWP).
On the other hand, implementation of effective measures to combat
climate change would cost much less. Limiting the rise of average global
temperature to under two degrees, for example, would require an esti-
mated investment of only around one percent of GWP a year. Such an in-
vestment would make ecological sense, and in most cases economic
sense as well — after all, it would provide many companies with oppor-
tunities to achieve sustainable growth.
For many years, Siemens has been a leader in environmentally-
friendly power generation and distribution, as well as energy-efficient
products ranging from lighting systems and drive units to building tech-
nology and solutions for environmentally-friendly production processes.
In 2008 a company-wide team led by Siemens Corporate Technology for
the first time documented the company’s complete Environmental Port-
folio, which lists all products and solutions that help protect the environ-
ment and battle climate change. The list accounts for more than 25 per-
cent of the company’s sales, and in 2009 amounted to €23 billion —
much more than any competitor. In the same period of time, Siemens
customers reduced their carbon dioxide emissions by 210 million metric
tons, which is more than 40 times the level of CO
that Siemens itself
Independent auditing company PricewaterhouseCoopers regularly
confirms the validity of the Siemens Environmental Portfolio and the
savings it has generated, as well as the method Siemens used to calcu-
late the savings. The Siemens Environmental Portfolio is expanding at an
average annual rate of ten percent and will easily achieve the initial tar-
get the company set of €25 billion by 2011. Siemens also has ambitious
goals for its own environmental protection activities. In 2007, the com-
pany emitted a total of 5.1 million tons of CO
equivalent. This figure
consists of all emissions generated by energy consumption for electricity
and heat, direct greenhouse gas emissions and emissions produced
Combined Cycle Power Plants:
Achieving 58% Efficiency
The most environmentally- and climate-friendly conventional power plants are
combined cycle gas and steam facilities that use natural gas. Such plants have
a peak efficiency of more than 58 percent, and their CO
emissions per kilo-
watt-hour (g CO
/kWh) are only around 345 grams. The corresponding aver-
age figures for coal-fired plants worldwide are 30 percent peak efficiency and
1,115 g CO
/kWh. The Siemens Environmental Portfolio therefore includes the
modernization of old coal-fired plants. The company’s technicians recently
raised the efficiency of the Farge plant operated by E.ON by three percentage
points to 45 percent — an improvement that reduces annual CO
emissions by
100,000 tons. The Environmental Portfolio for fossil power generation also in-
cludes fuel cells, heat and power co-generation, and power plant control technology.
Mass Transit:
Cutting Energy Bills by 30%
The transportation sector accounts for 25 to 30
percent of global end-consumer energy con-
sumption. And mobility is going to substantially
increase in the future, which means transporta-
tion must become more environmentally
friendly. The Velaro high-speed train — the
world’s fastest rail vehicle — requires the equiva-
lent of only two liters of gasoline per person and
100 kilometers when half full. The consistent
lightweight design of subway trains in Oslo has
reduced energy consumption by 30 percent.
Road traffic energy efficiency can be improved
as well — by using LEDs in traffic lights, for ex-
ample. Siemens’ Environmental Portfolio for the
transportation sector also includes traffic and
parking management systems, airport naviga-
tion lighting, and rail traffic automation and
power supply systems.
Server Farms:
Achieving 80% Utilization
Rapidly growing data volumes and ever-more
powerful computers are pushing up energy consumption and putting a strain on the envi-
ronment. Experts have calculated that computer
servers around the world require the complete
output of 14 power plants in the 1,000-mega -
watt class. Siemens’ “Transformational Data Center” Environmental Portfolio component balances economy, ecology, and flexibility by addressing all aspects of a server farm, from
planning and construction to operation and outsourcing. It also includes systems for active
energy management and computer center automation. The Transformational Data Center
has enabled Siemens-operated server farms to
increase their capacity utilization to more than
80 percent, which in turn lowers energy con-
Power Transmission:
5,000 MW Energy Highway
High-voltage direct-current power transmission
(HVDC) has proven to be a very effective tech-
nique for transmitting electricity over long dis-
tances with minimal losses. An example is an
HVDC “electricity highway” being built in China
between Yunnan Province in the southwest and
Guangdong Province in the south. In mid-2010,
this HVDC line will begin transmitting 5,000
megawatts of environmentally friendly electricity
from hydropower plants over a distance of 1,400
kilometers at 800 kilovolts. Other ecological
power transmission and distribution systems
from Siemens include power grid links for off-
shore wind parks, gas-insulated transmission
lines, gas-insulated transformers, and the Siplink
DC coupler, which eliminates the need for diesel
generators on docked ships.
Light-Emitting Diodes:
Saving up to 900 Billion Kilowatt Hours
The use of efficient lighting technology could reduce global electricity con-
sumption by more than 900 billion kilowatt-hours per year, which is twice the
annual electricity consumption of France. Based on the current worldwide
electricity mix, such a reduction would also lower CO
emissions by more than
500 million metric tons per year. Energy-saving lamps from Osram boast a
high level of luminous efficiency and use up to 80 percent less electricity than
light bulbs. They also last up to 15 times longer. LEDs are the light sources of
the future. These semiconductor compounds directly convert electricity into
light and last for more than 50,000 hours. Like energy-saving lamps, LEDs con-
sume up to 80 percent less electricity than light bulbs. Siemens’ Environmental
Portfolio also includes fluorescent lamps and electronic ballasts, Halogen En-
ergy Savers, and high-intensity discharge lamps.
Medical Scanners:
Up to 97% Recyclable
Ever-more efficient devices and the retrofitting
of existing equipment with the latest technology
are reducing the environmental impact of med-
ical systems. The Somatom Definition computer
tomograph uses up to 30 percent less electricity
than a conventional unit and also contains 83
percent less lead. As much as 97 percent of the
Somatom Definition’s weight can be recycled.
he Magnetom Essenza magnetic resonance
nit has a lower wattage for energy and cooling
than its conventional counterparts, thereby re-
ducing electricity costs by as much as 50 per-
cent. In addition, the use of refurbished systems
reduces CO
emissions by 10,400 tons per year.
eration sector as well. The average efficiency rating for coal-fired power
plants worldwide is 30 percent. Siemens technology achieves a 47 per-
cent efficiency rating, however, and combined cycle plants will soon
reach 60 percent. Consumers can also do their part — for example, by
using energy-saving lamps and light diodes, both of which consume 80
percent less electricity than incandescent light bulbs. New refrigerators
can also help, as these require as much as 75 percent less energy to op-
erate than 1990 models.
Siemens is the only company able to offer efficiency-enhancing prod-
ucts, solutions, and green technologies across
the entire value chain. It offers everything
from equipment for power generation, trans-
mission, and distribution to energy-saving
services, as well as state-of-the-art IT solu-
tions for energy management. All of these are
part of the Environmental Portfolio, which in-
cludes: Products and solutions that display extraor-
dinary energy efficiency, such as combined
cycle power plants, energy-saving lamps, and
intelligent building technologies. All equipment and components related to
the utilization of renewable energy sources
(including components for renewable power
generation itself) — e.g. wind power facilities
and their grid connections; steam turbines for
solar energy.
Green technologies for water treatment
and air quality maintenance. Experts from
through business trips. By comparison, automakers produced two to five
times more emissions per employee — and oil companies generate
around 200 times that level. Despite its relatively low CO
Siemens is determined to achieve a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse
gas emissions relative to sales by 2011, as compared to 2006 levels.
The growing concentration of CO
in the atmosphere has a major im-
pact on climate change — and we must do everything in our power to
diminish this trend. There’s still time to act. Most of the technology
needed to do so is already available. London offers a good example. Ac-
cording to a study conducted by McKinsey on
behalf of Siemens, the British capital could
cut its CO
emissions by 44 percent between
now and 2025 using solutions already avail-
able — without reducing its citizens’ quality of
life. The greatest potential for energy savings
can be found in buildings, which account for
nearly 40 percent of global energy consump-
tion. Savings of approximately 30 percent
could, for example, be achieved here through
more effective and efficient insulation, venti-
lation, air conditioning and heating systems.
The situation is similar in industry, where the
lion’s share of electricity consumption is ac-
counted for by electric drives. Equipping
these with state-of-the-art frequency convert-
ers would result in a 60 percent reduction in
electricity consumption. Similar potential for
improvement can be found in the power gen-
10 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2008 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2008 11
Corporate Technology and the Siemens Sectors have also calculated for
the first time the greenhouse gas savings potential for each Siemens
product and solution. Their calculations are based on a before-after
comparison specific to each product or solution, such as the effect of a
power plant modernization, or the impact that energy performance con-
tracting has on energy optimization in buildings. Direct comparisons were also made with a reference technology. For
example, emission reductions resulting from the use of low-loss, high-
voltage direct-current (HVDC) transmission systems were calculated
through a comparison of emis-
sions generated by conventional
AC transmission. The experts
also compared new facilities
with existing ones, whereby cor-
responding average global emis-
sion factors for power genera-
tion were utilized.
The following example illus-
trates how the method works:
State-of-the-art combined cycle
power plants have an efficiency
rating of approximately 58 per-
cent and emit 345 grams of CO
per kilowatt-hour (g CO
The experts compared this to
the global average emission fac-
tor for electricity generation
across all energy sources, which
is currently 578 g CO
/kWh. The
product of the 233 g CO
/kWh difference and the amount of electricity
generated annually at new combined cycle plants installed by Siemens
during the corresponding business year equals the emission reduction. Siemens’ Environmental Portfolio reduced annual CO
emissions for
the company’s customers by 210 million metric tons in 2009. In fact,
products and solutions installed during 2009 alone led to savings of 62
million metric tons. That total is set to increase to 300 million tons by
2011, which corresponds to more than the current CO
emissions of Tokyo,
New York City, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Rome combined.
Siemens has firmly embedded
its Environmental Portfolio
into its business strategy. The
company consistently ad-
dresses the growth market for
climate protection solutions
and plans on expanding its
lead in this area. This will not
only safeguard Siemens’ own
future and generate value for
employees and shareholders;
it will also make a major contri-
bution to reducing CO
2 emis-
sions worldwide. Customers
will benefit from enhanced en-
ergy efficiency, which will
lower costs and enable them
to succeed in a fiercely com-
petitive environment.
Norbert Aschenbrenner
Air and Water Treatment:
Radical Reductions in Pollutants
Siemens’ Environmental Portfolio includes systems for maintaining water and
air purity. The Cannibal system for wastewater processing reduces biological
solids in water by up to 50 percent. In addition, Siemens supplies systems for
treating industrial waste water used in sectors such as the paper industry. Flue
gas treatment systems, such as electric filters, remove air pollutants such as ni-
trogen oxides and sulfur dioxide. Such systems, in fact, achieve nearly 100-
percent separation at power plants, industrial facilities, and waste incineration
plants. Finally, the Meros process for cleaning sinter exhaust at steel produc-
ion facilities lowers emissions of dust, heavy metals, organic compounds, and
ulfur dioxide by more than 90 percent in many cases.
Pictures of the Future | Environmental Portfolio
Wind Power:
3.6 Megawatts per Turbine
Renewable energy sources are becoming in-
creasingly important. In Germany, they already
account for more than 15 percent of electricity.
Siemens supplies highly efficient wind power
facilities for applications on land and offshore.
Some 8,000 Siemens wind turbines are in opera-
tion worldwide. Since 2003, the company has
installed over 9,000 MW of wind power, which
save 20 million metric tons of CO
per year. The
largest turbine has an output of 3.6 megawatts
and a rotor diameter of 120 meters. The rotor
blades, which are single-cast and thus have no
seams, are tough enough to withstand even
gale-force winds. Siemens also offers complete
photovoltaic facilities, thermal-solar power
plants, and biomass plants.
Saving € 2 Billion in Energy
Buildings account for around 40 percent of
global energy consumption, thus making them
responsible for 21 percent of greenhouse gas
emissions. The biggest energy consumers in
buildings are technical installations and lighting.
Optimized heating, ventilation and air condition-
ing systems can reduce energy consumption in
renovated buildings by 20 to 30 percent on aver-
age. Siemens Building Technologies has to date
run more than 1,000 energy saving contracting
projects worldwide. These projects have result-
ing in savings of more than two billion euros and have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by
over 1.4 million tons. Such savings alone are
enough to recoup the initial investment associ-
ated with this type of model.
Industry: Enormous Energy-Saving Potential
Whether for steel, paper, or other products — the world’s 20 million motors
used in manufacturing account for 65 percent of the electricity consumed by
industry. Energy optimization measures for such motors could cut annual CO
emissions by 360 million metric tons — that’s almost Australia’s annual emis-
sion figure. Energy-saving motors’ losses are more than 40 percent lower than
those of standard motors. By enabling various drive speeds, the use of a fre-
quency converter cuts energy consumption by up to 60 percent. Siemens’ En-
vironmental Portfolio also includes diesel-electric drives for ships, solutions for
the metalworking and mining industries, energy recuperation systems for the
paper industry, and energy management and consulting services.
~ 15 Mt
~ 40 Mt
~ 50 Mt
~ 50 Mt
~ 60 Mt
~ 60 Mt
∑ ~ 275 Mt
* Based on comparisons with existing installations: Wind power
(since 2003), combined cycle plants, high-voltage direct-current
transmission (HVDC), energy performance contracting
** Includes all greenhouse gases: Emissions from production, electricity and heat consumption, business trips, and the company’s
vehicle fleet. Mt = megatons (millions of metric tons)
2011 (target)
300 CO
by customers
2 reductions
achieved through
Siemens products
and solutions in
the year in ques-
Annual savings through products and solutions from previous years
Hong Kong
New York City
house gas
emissions (as CO
2011 (target)
Sales from Environmental Portfolio products
and solutions (in € billions)
Environmental Portfolio: €25 billion by 2011
Siemens Cuts CO
by as
much as the Emissions
of Six Major Cities
Sources: Siemens, McKinsey, UN Statistics, as well as multiple government sources
14 African Sunlight for Europe
The goal of the Desertec
Industrial initiative is to help
Europe meet its future energy
requirements by supplying solar
power from North Africa. By
2050, 15 to 20 percent of Europe’s energy requirements may be met by solar imports. This would require 2,500 sq km of
desert for solar power plants and 3,500 sq km for transmission lines
through out the entire EU-MENA region. The technology to do it exists today.
20 High-Altitude Harvest
Siemens has built the world’s
largest offshore wind farm on the
North Sea off the Danish coast.
There, 91 turbines pump around
210 megawatts of electrical
power into the network – enough
to supply over 136,000 house-
holds with electricity. The rotors
are so stable they can withstand
23 Tapping an Ocean of Wind
Siemens and Statoil Hydro have
installed the world’s first large-
scale floating wind turbine –
opening the door to harvesting
the power of the wind on the high
seas. The turbine, which is located off the southwest coast of
Norway, is held in place by three steel cables moored to anchors on
the seabed. The power generated by this first floating windmill will be sent ashore via a marine cable. Highlights
Harvesting electricity in 2030. A solar ther-
mal power plant in the Moroccan desert
covers 100 square kilometers, which makes
it the world’s largest installation of its kind.
Using HVDCT lines, the electricity is trans-
mitted as direct current at 1000 kilovolts to
the coast, where it transforms salt water
into pure drinking water. From there, it is
transmitted across the sea to Europe, where
it provides clean power to many countries. 12
The Electric Caravan
Renewable Energy
| Scenario 2030
Morocco in 2030. Karim works as an engineer in the
world’s largest solar thermal
power plant, which transmits energy from the desert to faraway Europe. Every evening he
takes the time to admire the sunset above the countless rows
of parabolic mirrors. But today
he’s not doing it alone.
want to miss the daily evening show. Before the
sun sets he wants to reach the hill above the
“frying pan” — his colleagues’ name for a huge
solar thermal installation in the Moroccan
desert. In the glow of sunset, the level field of
countless mirrors is transformed into a sea of
red flames. It’s a spectacle Karim has never yet
he reflected image of the man walking past
the glittering parabolic mirrors is oddly dis-
torted. It wanders like a mirage through the
seemingly endless row of mirrors, stops briefly
and then continues on its way. There’s not a
breath of wind, and even though the sun is now
low, the temperature is still over 30 degrees Cel-
sius. Karim is in a hurry, because he doesn’t
missed in the five years since he was sent here
to help manage the world’s biggest solar ther-
mal power plant. Together with his colleagues, he lives and
works in a small settlement on the edge of the
installation. With the help of thousands of sen-
sors, solar thermal power experts here monitor
the power plant, which covers 100 square kilo-
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 13
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 15
Desert Power
By 2050, electricity generated at solar-thermal power
plants and wind farms in Africa and the Middle East is expected to cover 15 to 20 percent of Europe’s energy
needs. That’s the goal of the Desertec Industrial Initiative.
Siemens is a founding member and technology partner.
Solar-thermal power plants convert sunlight into electricity. Pictured here is the Solnova 1 plant of Abengoa Solar near Seville, Spain, and a
plant in California’s Mojave desert (small picture).
uddenly, he no longer had a quiet mo-
ment. There were calls from the Chan-
cellery, ministries, ambassadors, and company
representatives by the minute — and although
Prof. Hans Müller-Steinhagen from the Ger-
man Aerospace Center (DLR) in Stuttgart, Ger-
many, is used to acting more like a manager
than a researcher, he was still overwhelmed. “When you’ve got 250 people working for
you, you can’t just hide in the lab,” he says.
Still, what he experienced in the summer of
2009, when the whole world started talking
about Desertec, was something completely
different. In fact, just as Müller-Steinhagen fin-
of researchers in Stuttgart under the direction
of Müller-Steinhagen’s colleague Dr. Franz
Trieb has determined that solar-thermal power
plants could meet the world’s entire energy re-
quirements. To achieve that, however, it would
be necessary to cover an area measuring
around 90,000 square kilometers — that’s
about the size of Austria — with mirrors. But, according to the DLR, which has
studied the associated technology for over 30
years, if only 15 to 20 percent of Europe’s
energy demand — the goal of the Desertec
project — were covered, an area of around
2,500 square kilometers would be sufficient.
An additional 3,600 square kilometers would
be needed for the high-voltage power lines
that would transmit electricity to Europe. This vision is now gaining traction thanks
to several large companies that joined to form
the €400 billion Desertec Industrial Initiative
GmbH (DII) at the end of October 2009.Ac-
cording to DLR estimates, €350 billion will be
needed to build the project’s power plants and
€50 billion for associated transmission tech-
nology. Partners in the initiative include companies
that are normally rivals, as well as a major
bank and the Münchener Rück insurance com-
pany, one of the largest reinsurers in the
world. Siemens is one of the driving forces in
the initiative — which should be no surprise
given that its portfolio of solutions for solar-
thermal power plants includes all the key com-
ponents such as steam turbines and receiver
tubes, power plant control technology, and
systems for transmitting high-voltage direct
current with low losses (HVDC, see p. 44).
“Solar-thermal power works — there’s no
question about it,” says Müller-Steinhagen. In
fact, a cluster of power plants in California’s
Mojave Desert has demonstrated for over 20
years that a huge amount of electricity can be
generated with solar energy. The facilities feed
some 350 megawatts into the grid — enough
electricity to power 200,000 households. Solel, a solar thermal company that
Siemens acquired in late 2009, contributed so-
lar collectors and receivers to plants in the Mo-
jave Desert. In addition, the company is in-
volved in a number of projects, predominantly
in Spain, which are due to enter service in
2010 and 2011. In these cases, efficient UVAC
receivers, devised by Solel, were chosen by
project developers. There are many reasons why solar thermal
technology is now being widely discussed and
employed, with increased awareness of the
need for climate-friendly power being chief
among them. In addition, technology for low-
loss transmission of electricity over long dis-
tances has now established itself, while recent
innovations have made solar-thermal power
plants even more efficient. When oil prices
begin rising again, as is expected after the
economic crisis, solar-thermal electricity may
quickly become competitive. In fact, its pro-
duction in favorable regions already costs less
than €0.20 per kWh.
Major Alliance.If there’s one person who
might be called the father of Desertec, it’s Dr.
Gerhard Knies. Knies is Chairman of the Super-
visory Board of the Desertec Foundation,
which developed the Desertec concept that is
| Solar Energy
ishes describing this, the phone rings — this
time it’s the German Embassy in London, ask-
ing if he’d be willing to do a presentation.
Along with the Desertec Foundation and
the German Association for the Club of Rome,
Müller-Steinhagen’s Institute of Technical
Thermodynamics is one of the nerve centers
for a project that has been compared in size
with the Apollo space program — which cul-
minated in the 1969 moon landing. Desertec,
however, focuses on the sun rather than the
moon — more specifically on the sun’s energy.
In conjunction with the Trans-Mediterranean
Renewable Energy Cooperation (TREC), a team
14 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
meters. As soon as these tiny digital assistants
register a defect, Karim and the rest of his main-
tenance crew go to work. Karim, a true son of the desert, moves
through the heat very slowly and carefully —
and in contrast with his European colleagues,
who rush around sweating, his shirts always re-
main dry. But now he too is in a hurry, and he’s
relieved when he has reached the garage with
the off-roaders. Trained as an engineer, Karim is a calm and
deliberate man. He seldom uses bad language
— only in the rare cases when there isn’t
enough sugar in his tea or when one of his col-
leagues has forgotten to “tank up” the off-
roader, as has just happened. The electric vehicle wasn’t plugged into an
electrical socket — sockets that are supplied
with power from the solar thermal installation.
Nevertheless, Karim gets into the driver’s seat
and presses the starter button. The vehicle’s
150 kilowatt electric motor starts up with a soft
purr. A pictogram on the control panel indicates
that the battery only has 10 percent of its full
capacity. When fully charged, the vehicle has a
range of 350 kilometers — and ten percent is
not enough to get him up the hill. But the off-roader is equipped with a small,
highly efficient gasoline engine for emergen-
cies, which works like a generator and gives the
vehicle an additional range of 300 kilometers.
And the gas tank is still full. Karim is satisfied,
steps on the gas pedal, and the off-roader jolts
off almost silently along the sandy trail toward
the hill.
The final meters are the most difficult ones.
The electric off-roader pushes through the sand
with great effort, but eventually it reaches its
goal. Karim climbs out of the vehicle and hur-
ries to the top of the hill. The sun has already
reached the horizon, and the temperature has
dropped noticeably. A gentle breeze is coming
from the sea. But Karim doesn’t notice it, be-
cause he now smells something burning. Nearby he finds a small campfire. In front of
it sits a nomad holding a teapot above the
crackling flames. The old man greets him with
the traditional “Salam” and motions for him to
come closer. Karim hasn’t seen any nomads in
this area for a long time now — but he knows
that they’re always on the go. He gives the old
man a friendly nod and sits down beside him at
the campfire. “My name is Hussein,” says the nomad as he
hands Karim a glass of tea. “What brings you
here?” Karim shovels several spoonfuls of sugar
into his tea. He points down the hillside. “Do
you see those countless mirrors that are just
now reflecting the last rays of the sun? They are
generating electricity from the sun’s heat. This
power plant produces enough electricity to sup-
ply all of Morocco. My job is to make sure every-
thing runs smoothly.” Hussein looks down at the installation,
which is starting to glow red in the sunset. “A
power plant? I’d say it looks like a work of art
created by some crazy European.” Karim grins. “You’re not too far off the mark.
This technology was in fact developed in Eu-
rope. Installations like this one are being built all
over North Africa. They’ve been going up for
years. The mirrors automatically swivel so that
they’re always facing the sun. They capture the
sun’s beams and focus them on a pipe that is
filled with a special salt. The salt is heated to as
much as 600 degrees Celsius and generates
steam, which in turn drives a turbine that pro-
duces electricity.” Hussein points to the west, where the sun is
dipping beneath the horizon. “And what hap-
pens after it gets dark?” he asks. “The power
plant is equipped with storage systems that
contain the same kind of salt that’s in the
pipes,” explains Karim. “This salt stores so much
heat that the plant can also produce electricity
at night.” The nomad looks thoughtful. “But what do
we need all that electricity for?” he asks.
“There’s only dust and gravel here wherever you
look, and Casablanca is far away.” Karim points
to a gigantic high-voltage overhead line leading
northward from the installation through the
desert until it is lost from sight. “We use some
of the power to change seawater into drinking
water,” he says. Hussein nods. This makes sense
to him. Karim likes explaining things to people and is
now hitting his stride. “But we also sell a lot of it
at good prices to European countries that want
to become less dependent on oil, natural gas,
and coal. The energy is transported to them via
electricity highways like this one. It works like a
caravan — the electricity travels across dis-
tances as great as 3,000 kilometers to European
cities that use enormous amounts of power.
However, by transmitting it at 1000 kilovolts
hardly any electricity is lost in transit.” Karim sips his tea with satisfaction. “The
desert holds our past and also our future,” he
muses. “In the old days we pumped petroleum
out of the ground and today we’re harvesting
solar energy.” The old man lays a hand gently on Karim’s
shoulder. “The sun gives us everything we need
to stay alive — our forefathers already knew
that,” he says with a smile as he hands a warm
blanket to his guest. “But the night is coming on
quickly. Here, take this. In spite of your gigantic
power plant down there you’re shivering like a
sick camel.” Florian Martini
Renewable Energy
| Scenario 2030
on such days,” says Valerio Fernandez, Director
of Operations and Maintenance at Abengoa
Solar, which operates Solnova. “The turbine
therefore has to be flexible enough to make up
for these fluctuations.”
As the morning sun rises, Fernandez in-
spects the Solnova construction site, where
workers are busy tightening bolts and assem-
bling and polishing equipment. “On the whole
in Seville we have very good conditions for
solar-thermal power plants. About 210 days a
year of perfect sunshine, from morning to
evening,” says Fernandez. The Spanish feed-in
law for subsidizing solar-thermal power has
triggered a real boom. Since 2006, producers
have been entitled to receive a maximum of
approximately €0.27 per kWh from the gov-
ernment, and civil servants are being buried in
Big Up-front Investment.Depending on the
location and sunlight intensity, it now costs up
to €0.23 to produce a kWh of electricity, which
is relatively high. Electricity from wind power,
on the other hand, can already be produced at
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 17
Reliable and highly flexible steam turbines from
Siemens, such as the SST-700, are ideal for the special requirements of solar-thermal power plants
(right: Solel’s Lebrija plant in Spain).
competitive prices in many regions in Europe.
But things weren’t always this way. Thirty
years ago, it cost around €3 million to install
one MW of onshore wind-power output, while
today it costs only €1 million. Experts expect a
similar development with regard to solar-ther-
mal power. Here, the high cost at the moment
is mainly due to the initial investment. For ex-
ample, a 50-MW facility with heat storage
costs around €300 million, which has to be
paid off over the plant’s useful life, which can
extend up to 40 years. Heat storage isn’t cheap, as indicated by ex-
isting systems at the European Center for Solar
Energy Activities, the Plataforma Solar de
Almería, as well as in Andasol. But by storing
heat produced during the day, both locations
can generate electricity at night as well. Up
until now, large insulated tanks containing
liquid salts with a melting point of around 200
degrees Celsius have mostly been used as stor-
age media. Researchers at DLR and other facili-
ties are now trying to find ways to reduce
costs by altering the storage media or fine-
tuning power plant components to ensure that
as little heat as possible is lost during the heat
exchange process between the hot heat trans-
fer agent and the steam.
Fernandez thus expects that the initial in-
vestment per MW of installed generating ca-
pacity will soon decrease. “So far we’ve been
producing mostly one-of-a-kind equipment
and procuring special components, like re-
ceiver tubes, from small production series. But
when mass production for solar-thermal plants
begins, investment and power generation
costs will fall dramatically,” he predicts.
Perfect Match.Industrial consolidation is
proving helpful in this context. The acquisition
of Solel Solar Systems by Siemens in October
2009 is a case in point. Solel has decades of
experience in the development and manufac-
ture of solar field equipment, including the
high-tech receivers. In addition the company is
active in the planning and construction of
solar fields. This is a complementary fit with
the traditional Siemens competencies for the
power block, where steam is transformed into
electrical energy, as Umlauft from Siemens
confirms: “Siemens and Solel are a perfect
match. We are the market leader in steam
turbines for solar thermal power plants and,
with the power block, we can offer a key part
for solar power plants.” Bringing the ability to supply the most
important key components under one roof
opens up greater possibilities for enhancing
efficiencies of the integrated solution, thinks
Avi Brenmiller, CEO of Solel Solar Systems:
“Together, we will utilize our know-how in
these core competencies to further optimize
the water/steam cycle and to further boost the
efficiency of solar thermal power plants.”
Solel is not the first acquisition of Siemens
in the field of CSP. In March 2009 a 28 percent
interest in Archimede Solar was bought. The
Italian company develops receiver tubes
through which molten salt rather than special
oil flows. The advantage of this promising
The Desertec concept: Solar power in the desert, wind on the coasts, and a network of transmission lines.
2.000 km
Solar-thermal power plants
Area needed for solar-thermal
plants to provide electricity to:
World (2005 consumption)
EU 25
Power lines (e.g. HVDC, with extensions)
Desertec’s Energy Mix
Source: Desertec Foundation
16 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
Renewable Energy
| Solar Energy
optimize the facility’s yield, the mirrors con -
tinuously track the sun to within one-tenth of
a degree of arc. The light they reflect is chan-
neled into vacuum-insulated receiver tubes
that contain a special oil that is heated to
nearly 400 degrees Celsius. The oil later trans-
fers its heat to water in heat exchangers,
thereby creating steam. “At that point, a solar-thermal plant begins
operating like a conventional facility,” says
Umlauft. That’s because the downstream
“power block,” in which electricity is generated
from steam, employs the proven technology
used in steam-turbine plants.
But solar-thermal plants have special re-
quirements with regard to turbine size and
flexibility. For one thing, turbines in certain
types of solar plants need to be able to start up
very quickly when the sun rises. That’s one
reason why many solar power plant operators
opt for customized Siemens technology. In
May 2009, Siemens opened a new turbine pro-
duction hall in Görlitz, Germany, that produces
the SST-700, the world market leader when it
comes to parabolic trough power plants. In
fact, Siemens’ share of this market is more
than 80 percent. Together with control sys-
tems from Siemens, the SST-700 turbine is
also being used in another power plant in An-
dalusia: Solnova 1 in Sanlúcar la Mayor, near
Seville. Power generation was scheduled to
begin at the facility in late 2009. SST-700 turbines are already in operation in
many CSP plants around the world. The model
is popular due to its reliability and specifica-
tions — which are very well-suited to the size
class currently in operation — and its flexibil-
ity. “This is important because in Seville we
have light cloud cover about 90 days a year.
The plant’s output can fluctuate considerably
According to estimates by Greenpeace, De-
sertec would lead to the creation of some two
million jobs in participating countries by 2050.
Dr. René Umlauft, CEO of Siemens’ Renew-
able Energy Division, has supported the initia-
tive from the start. “Desertec can make a key
contribution when it comes to establishing a
sustainable energy supply system,” he says.
“And with the solutions from its Environmental
Portfolio, Siemens is the right technology part-
ner for this visionary project, many of the ele-
ments of which have already been imple-
mented in Europe.” now being refined in the DII. A retired physi-
cist, Knies’ favorite quote is from Albert Ein-
stein, who said: “We can’t solve problems by
using the same kind of thinking we used when
we created them.” Knies believes this logic fits in very well
with the issue of climate change brought
about by CO
emissions, as this development
can only be counteracted by revamping the
energy supply system. Over the years, he has
put together an impressive group of support-
ers, including TREC, the Club of Rome, DLR,
and Prince Hassan of Jordan. Desertec: 100 gigawatts of installed capacity would
cover 15 to 20 percent of Europe’s electricity needs.
“We all understood that putting a halt to
climate change would require CO
-free tech-
nologies like wind power, geothermal systems
and, above all, solar-thermal facilities — all on
a mass scale,” he says. Whereas Müller-Stein-
hagen is one of Desertec’s technology design-
ers, Knies got the associated political process
moving. His work culminated in the launch of
the implementation phase in the summer of
2009, when a consortium was established and
support was obtained from companies such as
The DII intends to develop business plans
and financing concepts to supply the MENA re-
gion and Europe with power produced using
solar and wind energy ressources.The goal is
to build a belt of solar-thermal power plants in
North Africa and the Middle East, which would
be linked via high-voltage lines with local con-
sumers and European countries. Plans call for
achieving a capacity of 100 gigawatts (GW)
and the supply of 700 terawatt-hours (TWh)
per year by 2050, which would cover 15 to 20
percent of Europe’s electricity needs.
Obviously, these plants could meet an even
higher share of energy demand in the dynami-
cally growing countries in which they would
be located. The electricity requirement in the
MENA Region (Middle East and North Africa) is
expected to increase five-fold over the next 30
to 40 years, to 3,500 TWh. “Solar-thermal
plants and wind power facilities could, for ex-
ample, play a key role in the energy-intensive
desalination of seawater,” says Knies. Moreover, because as much as 80 percent
of the value created through construction of
the power plant facilities will remain in the
MENA countries themselves (e.g. through the
production of mirrors, foundations, and
frames), a project like Desertec would also
greatly boost development in the region.
For instance, Siemens is the market leader
in the construction of new offshore wind tur-
bines, many of which can be found on Euro-
pean seas (see p. 20),and it has, through
Solel, strengthened its capability to offer the
key components for the construction of para-
bolic trough power plants from a single source
and to further enhance the efficiency of these
plants. Siemens technology can be found in
solar power plants built by other companies as
well. At the beginning of 2009, for example,
the Andasol parabolic trough plant went on-
line in Andalusia, Spain.
Just Follow the Sun.The Andasol plant is
equipped with curved parabolic mirrors laid
out in long rows covering an area of 500,000
square meters. These mirrors will enable the
plant, which will consist of three complexes in
its final expansion stage, to generate 150 MW
in all, and 176 GWh per complex and year. To
Ninety percent of the earth’s population lives within less than 3,000 kilometers from the earth’s sunbelt.
Areas with the Best Potential for Solar-Thermal Facilities
Suitable: 100–150 GWh/km
Good: 150–200 GWh/km
Outstanding: 200–300 GWh/km
Source: Solar Millenium
Three Ways to Put Solar Power to Work
The basic principle underlying solar-thermal
electricity generation (concentrated solar
power — CSP) is simple: Energy from the sun
heats water, either directly or indirectly. The
water vaporizes, and the resulting steam
drives a turbine whose motion is converted
into electricity in a generator. The large tur-
bines used in today’s coal-fired power plants
operate at over 600 degrees Celsius and at
pressures of up to 285 bar, thereby enabling
an efficiency as high as 46 percent. CSP
plants have much lower steam parameters
and outputs, which is why smaller turbines,
like the Siemens SST-700, are used at such facilities. In addition, many CSP power plants
(especially those not equipped with heat storage) need to be started up very quickly at
sunrise, which in turn requires highly flexible
turbines. There’s also another important difference between CSP units and coal
power plants: Power generated at the former is completely CO
All CSP plants concentrate solar energy using mirrors distributed across a small
area in order to generate high temperatures. The most widely used technology
today employs half-open parabolic mirrors, with a receiver tube mounted along
the focal line (top). A liquid flows through this tube as a heat transfer agent; a
special synthetic oil is the most commonly used substance today. The oil is
heated to approximately 370 degrees Celsius, after which it transfers its heat via
a heat exchanger to water, which drives a turbine in the form of steam. Alterna-
tively, special salts can be used instead of thermal oils. These salts can be heated
up to 550 degrees, thereby increasing the efficiency of the plant. Some compa-
nies are now also testing direct steam generation systems in which water is used
as the heat transfer agent in the receivers and is sent on to the turbine as hot
steam in a closed loop. As a result, a heat exchanger is no longer required. Many
solar-thermal plants are also equipped with heat storage so that they can pro-
duce electricity at night as well. Here, steam is either stored directly in heat-insu-
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 19
plus, which could be transmitted to Europe.
Clearly, in such a case, losses must be mini-
mized — and this is where high-voltage direct
current transmission (HVDC) comes in.
Electricity Highway. “Transferring power via
conventional AC lines over thousands of kilo-
meters from Africa to Europe would lead to
huge losses,” says Dr. Dietmar Retzmann, Sie -
mens’ leading expert for HVDC trans mis sion
technology. “Such losses can be greatly redu -
ced by using HVDC lines and undersea cables.”
HVDC loses only around ten percent of power
over 3,000 kilometers — that’s roughly the
distance from the southern end of the Sahara
to Central Europe. Siemens is now building the
most powerful HVDC connection in the world
in China, where 5,000 MW of power will be
transported 1,400 kilometers (see p.44). “Such
HVDC lines are like electricity highways,” says
Retzmann. “We’re going to need them in Eu-
rope when we expand our grid and large
amounts of electricity from wind power facili-
ties will have to be moved great distances.”
Desertec might therefore become a key
com ponent of tomorrow’s energy networks.
The project provides solutions in three key ar-
eas, according to Michael Weinhold, chief
technologist at Siemens Energy. “Energy sys-
tems must be effective in terms of three di-
mensions,” he says, “economy, environment,
and security. Desertec will be good for the en-
vironment, it will be designed in an economi-
cal manner, and it will enhance European en-
ergy security because it will substantially
re d uce dependence on fossil fuel imports.” The key issue with solar-thermal power to-
day is no longer feasibility but the ability to
achieve efficiency in large-scale applications.
The main issue for the MENA Region is to en-
sure continued stable economic development
and a reliable supply of energy for desalination
plants which produce drinking water. The wa-
ter table in Sanaa, Yemen, for example, is sink-
ing at the rate of six meters per year, according
to Müller-Steinhagen. In Egypt, new water
sources with a volume equivalent to the entire
flow of the Nile need to be tapped by 2050.
Desalination at solar-thermal facilities could
meet a large por tion of this requirement. In
conjunction with mo dern technology, the sun
that beats down on this region, could one day
be bringing water, electricity, and life to the
desert. Andreas Kleinschmidt
lated pressure containers or the heat from the steam is transferred to an addi-
tional storage medium — usually in the form of the special salts that can also be
used in the receiver tubes. Utilizing salt as both the transfer agent and storage
medium eliminates the need for a heat exchanger, which may one day lower
both investment and operating costs relative to other technologies. CSP power
plants can also be built as central receiver systems that use flat mirrors to reflect
sunlight onto a small area on the top of a centrally located tower (bottom) that is
often taller than 100 meters. This approach enables the highest possible temper-
atures to be achieved (up to 850 degrees Celsius). However, the farther away the
mirrors are from the tower, the lower the efficiency, which is why such plants must
be kept small. A cost-saving alternative is offered by Fresnel technology. Here,
long strips of flat mirrors (which are cheaper to produce than parabolic troughs)
reflect light onto a receiver tube suspended above them (middle). However, the
low initial investment cost for Fresnel power plants comes at the price of lower
efficiency. Experts believe that the market for solar-thermal power plants will post
double-digit annual growth between now and 2020, reaching a volume of over
€20 billion by then. A number of competing technologies will probably continue to
exist side by side as they undergo further development. Andreas Kleinschmidt
Andreas Kleinschmidt
How a Parabolic Trough Plant Operates
Solar field with parabolic
Heat transfer medium (e.g. salt)
Heat storage
Water-cooled condenser
Steam turbine
Generator for producing
Heat ex-
Source: Siemens
18 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
Renewable Energy
| Solar Energy
Prof. Hans Müller-Stein-
hagen, 55, has headed the
Institute of Technical Ther-
modynamics at the German
Aerospace Center since 2000.
After earning a PhD in pro -
cess technology, he wor ked
for seven years at the Uni -
versity of Auckland in New
Zealand, before becoming a
dean at the University of
Surrey, UK. Working clo sely
with designers and facility
operators, Müller-Steinha -
gen’s teams have made solar
electricity generation much
more efficient. Their institute
is a global leader in its field. Making Solar-Thermal Power Competitive
produced in Africa and the Middle East to Europe involves projects that can only be suc-
cessfully implemented by a large number of
big companies — companies that can supply
high voltage direct current technology and
that also possess the necessary project expert-
ise. Siemens is in a very good position to play
such a role.
What type of research still needs to be performed?
Our main goal is to in-
crease electricity production efficiency. If we
could increase our efficiency to 20 percent
from the current average of 15 percent, we
could reduce the area needed for the mirrors
by one-third. Don’t forget that the collectors
account for nearly half of the total investment
cost. We’re also experimenting with direct
steam generation, where water in the receiver
tubes is converted into steam and sent on di-
rectly to the turbine. We have worked with
Siemens here on liquid separators. Losses can
also be minimized through the use of differ-
ent storage media. So, if we can boost effi-
ciency through many measures, even if it’s
just one percentage point at a time, the cu-
mulative effect over the lifespan of a facility
could be substantial. The German Aerospace
Center is therefore working closely with
Siemens in many areas to ensure that the so-
lar-thermal plants of the future will be built in
the near, rather than in the distant, future.
Interview conducted by Andreas Kleinschmidt.
When will solar-thermal electricity become
Müller-Steinhagen: That depends on prices
for conventional fuels — and in 2008, we saw
just how volatile they can be. It also depends
on the development of investment and oper-
ating costs for solar-thermal facilities. We’ve
already overcome the first major challenge
with the launch of the Desertec Industrial Ini-
tiative. As we begin producing more solar-
thermal electricity, it will become cheaper.
Costs will decline when large companies start
using and further developing the technology.
One result will be the mass production of
components. I’m confident that we can be-
come competitive in about 15 years.
Saving the world with big projects is a concept that has sometimes caused major
problems — for instance in dam construc-
tion projects. Isn’t it possible that this could
happen with Desertec?
Although Desertec is a
gigantic project as a whole, it’s also the sum
of many smaller and more easily manageable
projects. After all, many plants, each with a
capacity of at least 50 megawatts, could grad-
ually go online. That sort of value is common
in Spain today. This approach will work be-
cause investment costs can be kept at a man-
ageable level. And with the right financial in-
centives, such plants can be operated
profitably. At the same time, the infrastruc-
ture needed to transport some of the energy
future technology is that unlike oil, which ages
with frequent temperature changes and thus
must be replaced, molten salt can remain in
the cycle. It also allows operation at tempera-
tures up to 550 degrees Celsius, which boosts
efficiency because the steam that drives the
turbine can also be brought to higher temper-
atures and pressures.
What’s more, the use of salt eliminates the
need for high-loss heat exchangers because
the salt in the receiver tubes can also be used
as the storage medium and can be pumped
into an insulated tank as well. After it cools,
the salt flows back into the receiver, where it
again “harvests” solar energy. Construction of a new factory for produc-
ing Archimede receivers in northern Italy has
begun this year; the facility is expected to
enter service in 2010. Archimede tubes are
already being used at a solar field in southern
Instead of using special oil or molten salt,
it’s also possible to produce steam directly in
absorber tubes. This eliminates the need for
an expensive heat transfer agent, as water can
be used to generate steam directly. Together
with the DLR, Siemens has been working on
the associated technology for many years.
Thanks to the major advances achieved so far,
it will be possible to operate some of the para-
bolic collectors at the Andasol-3 power plant
with such a direct steam generation system. Conditions for solar power generation are
even more favorable in the deserts of the U.S.
and North Africa than in southern Spain.
Egypt, for example, is considered to be ideal
for solar power because the Nile can provide
sufficient cooling water for the condensers in
the steam cycle. However, condensers can also
be cooled in dry regions using air, although ef-
ficiency in this case is 20 percent lower. Such
an approach might make sense in parts of Al-
geria, for example, where stone deserts offer
an optimal location for solar-thermal power
plants for a different reason: There are no sand
storms that could damage mirrors. Algeria is the site for the future Hassi R’Mel
power plant, a 160-MW facility currently under
construction that combines a conventional gas
and steam turbine plant with solar technology.
The facility will initially generate electricity for
the local market. However, with the construc-
tion of more and more power plants, North
Africa will eventually have an electricity sur-
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 21
High-Altitude Harvest
Siemens is building the world’s largest offshore wind farm 30 kilometers from the Danish
coast. The project is both a technical and logistical challenge because the individual com-
ponents are huge, weigh dozens of tons, and must operate flawlessly in the windy North
Sea — even during a hurricane. What’s more, they have to do all this for 20 years or more. The construction of the world’s largest offshore wind
farm — the Horns Rev II off Denmark — is a chal-
lenge from the production of rotors and trans-ship-
ment at the harbor to assembly on the open sea. 1,500 rpm. The generator is hidden at the back
and can produce 2.3 megawatts (MW) of elec-
trical power once the wind speed exceeds
eleven meters a second — but only if no visi-
tors are present in the nacelle. “When anyone is
visiting, the wind turbines are switched off for
safety reasons,” says Møller, who heads Off-
shore Technology at Siemens Wind Power divi-
sion in Denmark. However, this is small conso-
lation for visitors. Even though you are
standing on a secure grid, you can’t help but
feel there’s very little between you and the
abyss beneath your feet. The North Sea swell
is lapping at the foundations 60 meters below.
At the same time, the structure sways lightly in
the wind — despite its weight of over 300
tons. “It’s designed to do that,” says Møller,
“because flexibility is what provides our wind
power plants with their tremendous stability.
Even severe storms haven’t caused any prob-
lems.” Møller presses a switch and two roof wings
open up above the nacelle to unveil a view of
the North Sea. Dozens of wind turbines extend
out in a row toward the horizon like a string of
pearls. Some are rotating energetically in the
nybody visiting Jesper Møller at his fa-
vorite workplace needs to have a head for
heights, good sea legs, and no inclination to-
ward claustrophobia. Secured with ropes, we
climb narrow ladders and ride unsteady freight
elevators in order to get to the top of a win-
dowless tower. On arrival, Møller invites his
guests into the inner sanctum: the approxi-
mately six meter-long cylinder that forms the
head of a wind power plant. A neon tube lights up the long shaft con-
taining the gearbox, which transforms the ro-
tation of the blades into a generator speed of
Renewable Energy
| Offshore Wind
20 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
breeze; others are waiting to be commis-
sioned, while a few more are mere founda-
tions protruding out of the sea. Horns Rev II is
the name of this wind farm, which is situated
on a sandbank about 30 kilometers off the
Danish coast. The park is still under construc-
tion but when completed at the end of 2009,
it will be the largest offshore wind farm in the
world. A total of 91 turbines from Siemens will
then be able to pump around 210 MW of elec-
trical power into the network — enough to
supply over 136,000 households. World Record for Wind Power. Such su-
perlatives are nothing special by Denmark’s
standards because they are already multiple
world record holders. This small kingdom is
not only the largest producer of wind power
plants, but also generates 20 percent of its en-
ergy requirements with wind power. In com-
parison, Germany, has so far only managed
seven percent. Perhaps the figures aren’t so
surprising when you consider that Denmark is
a windy country and enjoys only ten calm days
a year. On really windy days, the windmills can
produce half of the country’s electricity, and
on a stormy night, this figure can even rise to
100 percent. However, this bounty of green energy does
have its downside. Because such plants rely on
the wind, long-term energy production plans
are out of the question. As a result, these
white giants can play only a limited role when
it comes to meeting the fluctuating demand
for grid power. In contrast, other types of
power plants, such as gas and cogeneration
plants, can be run up or run down according to
demand. That’s why, the state-
run network operator, uses a sophisticated en-
ergy management system that is partially
based on several weather forecasting systems
to get the best out of variable wind energy. In order to quickly respond to fluctuations,
excess wind-generated electricity is diverted to
trolled system. A host of sensors, both inside
and outside the compartment, continuously
measure the vibrations of the machine parts.
Using this data, experts from Siemens can re-
motely recognize when a problem is brewing,
because each unusual reading triggers an
alarm. In this way experts can detect anom-
alies and prevent damage from occurring. Only the most observant visitors notice that
the nacelle and blades incline slightly upwards
at an angle of seven degrees “We have to
maintain a safe distance between the blades
and the mast,” says Møller. “They are so flexi-
withstand during strong winds,” explains
Nielsen. The secret of the blades’ stability can be
found in the 250-meter-long production hall
where they are manufactured using “Integral
Blade Technology,” a patented process (see Pic-
tures of the Future, Fall 2007, p. 60). What’s
remarkable is that the rotor blades are manu-
factured as a single component without seams
— a method that only Siemens has mastered.
At the start of the process, workers roll out
long alternate layers of fiberglass mats and
balsa wood in a form to make a kind of “sand-
Norway’s pumped storage power plants to be
used later during calm weather. Although cur-
rently capable of coping with peak loads and
stabilizing the network, this arrangement may
not be equal to future demands — particularly
as the Danish government plans to substan-
tially expand its use of wind power in coming
years. And that’s just fine as far as Møller is con-
cerned. He has been building wind farms for
the last ten years and has developed a special
bond with his turbines. “Although the work is
routine,” he says. “I experience something spe-
ble that they bend inward considerably in
stormy conditions.”
Robust Blades. Søren Kringelholt Nielsen and
his 800 employees at Siemens Rotor Blade
Manufacturing, which is located 230 kilome-
ters away in Aalborg, ensure that the huge
blades are flexible. All the blades for the Euro-
pean market are produced here. The floor of
the factory is covered with neat rows of the gi-
gantic rotor blades, each of which is bigger
than the wing of a jumbo jet. The surface of
the blades is so smooth that you can’t see or
A wind turbine produces enough energy to boil six
liters of water in just one second.
cial every time I ascend a windmill and look
out over the North Sea.” Just in front of him,
the huge 45-meter rotor blades stretch into
the sky, their tips roaring through the air at
220 kilometers per hour and producing
enough energy to boil six liters of water every
second. Depending on the strength of the
wind, it’s possible to alter the white blades’ an-
gle of attack so that they operate in the most
efficient manner. The 82 ton-nacelle can also turn on its own
axis in the wind — courtesy of a computer-con-
feel a single seam, while the edges at the tips
are nearly as sharp as knives. Despite their
size, the aerodynamic blades can be bent by
several centimeters using nothing more than
your hand. “This apparent fragility is deceiving,” says
Nielsen, who heads Rotor Blade Manufactur-
ing in Aalborg. “The blades are extremely ro-
bust. Imagine placing a mid-sized car at the
end of a three-kilometer beam. The forces that
are being placed on the other end of the beam
are the same as those a rotor blade needs to
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008 23
| Floating Wind Farms
ale-force winds are whipping waves to
dizzying heights as a thin silhouette of an
80-meter-high mast dimly appears through the
mist. Driven by the howling wind, the mast’s
rotor blades spin furiously in the night air. Al-
though it has neither pillars nor stilts for sup-
port, the mast stays upright, leaning only
slightly. It’s hard to believe, but there it — a
prototype wind turbine floating on the water.
Since late 2009, the turbine has been pro-
ducing 2.3 megawatts while bobbing in the
north sea about 12 kilometers southwest of
the Norwegian coast. Over the next two years
the prototype installation will prove whether it
can stand up to the region’s notoriously nasty
wind and waves. The floating wind turbine is a
cooperative project between Siemens’ Renew-
able Energy division — the world market leader
ballast tanks — a concept that has been used
with floating drilling platforms for many years.
The buoy’s 120-meter-long float is designed to
ensure that the structure’s center of gravity is
far below the water surface, thus preventing
the wind turbine from bobbing to and fro in
the waves like a bathtub thermometer. The
mast’s ballast tanks make it possible to pre-
cisely set its center of gravity. And to ensure
that the structure doesn’t drift, it is held in
place by three steel cables moored to anchors
on the seabed. The power generated will be
sent ashore via a marine cable. The simple an-
chor/steel cable design is the key that makes it
possible to install the turbine in very deep wa-
ters, unlike a massive pillar design, which
would become uneconomical at depths in ex-
cess of 100 meters.
Future offshore wind
turbines will be fixed to
a steel tube extending
120 meters under the
surface. Along with
three steel cables, the
tube makes the design
robust enough to work
on the high seas. Tapping an Ocean of Wind
StatoilHydro of Norway and Siemens have developed the world’s first floating wind turbine —
opening the door to harvesting the power of the wind on the high seas. for offshore wind farms — and the Norwegian
energy company StatoilHydro. As Norway’s po-
tential wind energy sites are often in nature
conservation areas, the country’s energy sector
is looking to the sea. Denmark set up its first
offshore wind farms more than 15 years ago,
but to date, these have all been located near
the coast in depths of less than 30 meters,
where anchoring is relatively easy. Expansion,
however, is difficult, due to factors such as fish-
ing grounds and bird migration zones.
But now Siemens and StatoilHydro are tak-
ing their Hywind project out to the high seas,
where winds are stronger and more consistent
than near the coast. According to the National
Renewable Energy Laboratory in the U.S., for
instance, wind potential at 5 to 50 nautical
miles off U.S. coastlines is greater than the in-
stalled generating capacity of all U.S. power
plants, which is more than 900 gigawatts.
Deep. Norway is ideal for prototype testing be-
cause the seabed drops steeply offshore. At 12
kilometers from land, where the wind turbine
is located, the seabed is about 220 meters be-
low the surface. StatoilHydro is responsible for
the underwater part of the facility, while
Siemens will supply the tower and the com-
plete turbine. For its Hywind prototype, Statoil-
Hydro is using a “spar buoy” concept that fea-
tures a steel and concrete buoy equipped with
“We hope to be able to use this concept at
depths of up to 700 meters,” says Siemens Re-
newable Energy Division CTO Henrik Stiesdal,
who is based in Brande, Denmark. At greater
depths, the costs for steel and anchors would
make such facilities too costly. An offshore
farm with up to 200 turbines could supply al-
most a million households with electricity. The first step in that direction is to test the
prototype. The prototype is outfitted with an
electronic control system to ensure that the tur-
bine doesn’t tip too far and become unstable.
The system makes it possible to alter the angle
of the rotor blades and thus the structure’s re-
sponse to incoming wind, thereby enabling the
facility to balance out any swinging motions.
It’s also been suggested that the generator and
hub could be tipped, which would shift the fa-
cility’s weight and compensate for swaying
movements. “We still need to test all of these
things,” says Sjur Bratland, project manager for
StatoilHydro. “What we’re doing here is devel-
oping technology for a future market. With its
turbine expertise, Siemens is a reliable partner
with a lot of forward-looking ideas.” Bratland
believes the Hywind solution will be perfect for
regions that have deep coastal waters not
suited for ordinary offshore windfarms, few en-
ergy resources and little available land, but
good wind conditions at sea. Candidates in-
clude Japan and the U.S.Tim Schröder
How to Become a Windmill Builder
In August 2009, Siemens opened one of Eu-
rope’s most up-to-date training centers for wind
energy in Bremen, Germany. Aptly named the
Wind Power Training Center, it has a floor area of
about 1,100 square meters, and is situated be-
tween the European and Industrial harbors of
the north German Hanseatic city, where it serves
primarily as a training center for service techni-
cians. Prospective assembly workers are not only
offered theory courses covering the construction
and operation of wind power plants, but are also
given the opportunity to carry out practical
maintenance work on real objects.
A hall measuring about 600 square meters forms
the heart of the building, which houses a 2.3MW
wind turbine from Siemens, a simulator for the
control technology, ladder constructions, a scaf-
folding, and crane and tower models. “In this El-
dorado for technicians, our employees can
demonstrate their knowledge of the technical
processes in a wind turbine, as well as the rele-
vant safety aspects of wind turbine construction,
management, and servicing — all in a practical
setting,” says project manager Nils Gneiße.
“Thanks to this experience, they will be able to
perform maintenance work for customers faster
and more efficiently.” Wind power plant opera-
tors particularly benefit because the mainte-
nance requirements and costs fall, while the reli-
ability of the turbines increases.
According to Gneiße, the ten-meter turbines, which weigh some 80 tons, are more than just training
objects that provide hands-on experience. “With the help of these turbine nacelles, we want to in-
crease safety for our technicians,” he says. That’s why the training program offers emergency exer-
cises under real-life conditions — up to now a first for this type of training center. “Regardless of
whether an employee becomes stuck during maintenance work or simply gets cramps — at a height
of a hundred meters even minor incidents are considered emergencies that call for swift action,” says
Gneiße. Along with training facilities in Brande, Denmark, Newcastle, UK, and Houston, Texas, the
center in Bremen covers global training needs in terms of wind power. Every year some 1,000 techni-
cians, most of whom will come from Central and Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean region and the
Asia-Pacific region, are to be trained here, as are Siemens customers. Sebastian Webel
22 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
Renewable Energy
| Offshore Wind
Swimming Packhorse. By the time a blade
begins its life on a mast at Horn Rev II, it will
have an amazing journey behind it. First of all,
blades are strapped onto articulated trucks for
the 280-kilometer journey to Esbjerg harbor,
one of Siemens’ transport hubs for wind farms
in Europe. Here, the individual blades are at-
tached to rotors and loaded — together with
kept to a minimum during the 20 years in
which the blades must withstand wind and
weather. “Repairs on the open sea cost about
ten times as much as repairs on land,” says
Nielsen. To further increase their resilience, all
the blades are equipped with a lightning con-
ductor. “Statistically, each blade will be struck
at least once by lightning.” wich.” The bottom and top sections are subse-
quently joined and a vacuum is created inside.
The vacuum sucks liquid epoxy resin through
the fiberglass mats and the balsa wood. Here,
the resin finds its way through all of the layers
and evenly joins the two sides of the blade. Fi-
nally, the blades are “baked” in a gigantic oven
at a temperature of 70 degrees Celsius for
eight hours. “At the end of this process we
have a seamless rotor blade with no weak
points,” says Nielsen. Weaknesses are unac-
ceptable because maintenance costs must be
“Repairs on the open sea cost about ten times as much
as repairs on land.” the nacelles and the masts — onto the “Sea
Power,” an assembly ship that transports the
components of three separate wind power
plants to their destinations in the North Sea.
Gigantic cranes lift the 60-ton rotors onto the
deck of the ship, stacking three huge propellers
per rotor on top of one another, before placing
the tower sections and the nacelle beside
them. This swimming packhorse then trans-
ports its freight, which weighs over 1,000
tons, 50 kilometers to Horns Rev II. From his nacelle 60 meters above the North
Sea, Møller has spotted the Sea Power. “It
takes six to eight hours to completely assem-
ble a wind power plant,” he says. The assembly
ship’s crane lifts the steel tower, the nacelle,
and finally the rotor onto a yellow pedestal —
a steel foundation that was driven 20 meters
into the sandy seabed some time earlier. The
components are then bolted together by hand. “Naturally, this is possible only with good
weather. As soon as the height of the waves
exceeds 1.5 meters the work is called off. And
this can happen quite often on the North Sea,
which is renowned for being rough,” says
Møller. He points at an old ferry that is an-
chored not far from the wind farm. “That’s our
hotel ship. It’s home for the workers who are
responsible for the installation and cabling of
the wind mills. They spend two weeks at a
time here at sea.” In contrast, stays in the nacelles, which are
far from comfortable, are of course much
shorter. The limit is three days. In case evacua-
tion is impossible in the face of a rapidly-devel-
oping storm, each tower is outfitted with
emergency storage facilties for fresh water
and energy bars. On the other hand, there are
visitors who have climbed the tower with Jes-
per Møller who have indicated that they would
rather stay a little longer because, even when
there is no emergency, the cramped nacelle
seems preferable to the idea of climbing back
down to a swaying boat at the foot of the mast
— especially when you’ve forgotten your sea-
sickness pills.Florian Martini
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2007 25
— despite their huge size and strength — must
have an optimal aerodynamic shape right
down to the smallest angle and, most crucially,
they must be very robust. This is because many
of them are destined for offshore wind farms,
where repair and replacement costs are ex-
tremely high. “The cost to the manufacturer of
carrying out a repair on the open sea is around
ten times as high as that for an onshore instal-
lation,” says Burchardt. “On the large turbines
an everyday wind speed of 10 meters per sec-
ond forces 100 tons of air through the rotor
every second. That requires a robust blade!”
Extreme quality requirements such as these
have caused many manufacturers to pull out of
the offshore sector. In the meantime, Siemens
has not only become the most experienced,
but also the largest supplier of offshore wind
turbines. Blade Baking. In the Aalborg facility’s produc-
tion hall, which is some 250 meters in length,
there are huge blade-shaped molds like cake
pans, stretching out along the floor and even
hanging upside down from the ceiling. There’s
not a hint of chemical smell and most workers
don’t have to wear special protective clothing.
explains Burchardt, “and once it has been in-
jected with epoxy resin it turns into a fiber-rein-
forced plastic composite. Unlike products from
rival manufacturers, our rotor blades don’t con-
tain any polyvinyl chloride, which has been as-
sociated with dioxin. This means they’re not a
problem to dispose of at the end of their 20
year service life, because they are primarily
made of recyclable fiberglass.”
How can such a length of fabric give a rotor
blade its enormous strength? “The mold is ini-
tially lined with many layers of fiberglass. In fact
there are seven metric tons of this material in a
45-meter blade, and 12 tons in a 52-meter blade.
To enhance stiffness, a layer of wood is placed
between the fiberglass layers,” says Burchardt.
He indicates the different layers of fiberglass
and the wooden mat carefully embedded in
the midst of the multilayered structure. “The
other side of the blade is made up of the same
ingredients and then joined with its mate. But
instead of fixing the two sides together with an
“With this method it only takes 48 hours from
the first step to a completed blade, instead of
several days,” says Burchardt with evident pride.
“That’s one day to place all the fiberglass, and
another to inject and bake. After that the blade
is adjusted and painted white — it’s a mixture of
high-tech and skilled handicraft.” Once com-
pleted, the rotor blades are delivered by truck or
ship to customers worldwide, including destina-
tions as far away as the U.S. and Japan.
Good Vibrations. Before delivery, samples of
the rotor blades have to go through a variety of
static and dynamic tests. First of all, they are
subjected to 1.3 times the maximum operating
load. To simulate 20 years of material fatigue,
the blades are then mounted on special test
beds and made to vibrate around two million
times, before the endurance of the material is
again tested with a final static test.
In Brande, a town of 6,000 inhabitants lo-
cated some 150 kilometers south of Aalborg,
In a patented process, wind mill blades are
baked as a single piece — without any seams.
“A few years ago we developed a method of
manufacturing the blades as a single, all-in-one
piece,” says Burchardt. “Using this integral blade
process — or one-shot technique, as we also
call it — we’ve been able to do away with adhe-
sives. As a result, the workforce is not exposed
to toxic vapors. At the same time there are no
individual components to clutter up the hall,
and we end up with a rotor blade that is pro-
duced in a single casting and therefore without
any seams whatsoever, which makes it consid-
erably stronger than other blades.”
At the far end of the hall, Burchardt halts at
one of the blade molds, which an employee is
lining with what look like lengths of white fab-
ric. The material has the appearance of a finely
woven carpet but feels like plastic. “Fiberglass,”
adhesive, we fill the interior with bags of air and
then inject several tons of liquid epoxy resin in-
side, which finds a smooth course between the
pockets and the fiberglass and thus evenly joins
the two sides of the blade. Finally, we bake the
whole thing for eight hours at a temperature of
70 degrees Celsius.”
As Burchardt speaks, a mold is lowered from
the ceiling and seamlessly encloses the two sides
of a blade. It is only now that the shape of the
huge units on the backs of the molds becomes
evident. In their closed state, the molds act as a
huge cake pan with an integrated oven, and
once the epoxy resin has been injected, they are
heated to bake the blade into a solid whole. The
bags inside the blade defy the heat and prevent
the blade from collapsing during production.
2,700 Siemens employees manufacture the
heart of every wind power plant: its turbines’
nacelles (housing). During a trip through the
Danish countryside, past its fields and farms
and some of the country’s 3,500 wind turbines,
I ask why the biggest manufacturers of wind
power plants are in Denmark. “There are historical reasons,” says Henrik
Stiesdal, Chief Technology Officer at Siemens in
Brande. “It all began with the energy crisis of
1973/1974. In a move to reduce its dependence
on oil, Denmark looked at the possibility of
building nuclear power plants. In response,
talented engineers designed the first wind tur-
bines. In the mid-1980s, a number of countries
introduced tax incentives for wind power, mak-
ing it a lucrative business. As the only country
Renewable Energy
| Wind Turbines
Catching the Wind
Siemens Wind Power is more than just the global market leader for offshore wind
turbines. In Denmark, in a unique, one-shot process, the company produces rotor
blades that are up to 52 meters in length. It also manufactures one of the world’s
largest serially-produced wind turbines, which has an output of 3.6 megawatts. Finished blades await shipment (below), while new ones are already in the making (right).
Here, huge molds are being removed (center) from raw blades (left). 24 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2007
ow black clouds and bone-chilling wind are
blowing in over the whitecaps on the North
Sea. By most people’s standards this is any-
thing but great weather. But for Claus Bur-
chardt, head of blades research and develop-
ment at Siemens’ Wind Power Business Unit,
nothing could be better. “For us, good weather
means a stiff wind,” he says. “Without that, we
would be struggling to find customers.” Rather than standing at the beach, Bur-
chardt is sitting in a small office on the out-
skirts of Aalborg, Denmark’s third largest city.
Together with 5,500 fellow employees of
Siemens Wind Power, Burchardt builds huge
wind power plants, each of which can generate
enough electricity to boil a bath full of ice-cold
water within 30 seconds. In fact, the individual
components of such a wind turbine are so large
that, for logistical reasons, some are built far
from Denmark. One such location is Fort Madi-
son, Iowa, where a new rotor blade factory
opened in September, 2007. Local infrastruc-
ture also plays an important role in choosing
locations. Thus, Aalborg, for example, was se-
lected because of its proximity to a harbor with
quays capable of handling rotor blades, some
of which are over 50 meters in length.
“The big challenge in Aalborg,” says Bur-
chardt, “is to ensure that all of the rotor blades
we produce, some of which weigh 16 metric
tons, are manufactured to such a high level of
precision that they perform exactly as required
without any need to upgrade or adjust them
for 20 years.” To achieve this, the rotor blades
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008 27
conomic development and population growth in
many emerging markets are causing the global de-
mand for energy to increase rapidly. In the World Energy
Outlook from 2007, the International Energy Agency (IEA)
forecast that global consumption of energy will rise by
over 50 percent by 2030 if current policies are maintained.
China and India alone will be responsible for half the in-
crease. Fossil fuels will continue to be the key source of
primary energy, and will be responsible for 84 percent of
the increase in consumption between 2005 and 2030.
Above all, coal will experience a boom. Today, China and
India consume 45 percent of all coal used globally; by
2030, this figure is likely to reach over 80 percent.
Based on these predicted increases, CO
emissions will
reach double the 1990 level by 2030 (graphic above and
Pictures of the Future,Spring 2007, p. 83). To ensure that
greenhouse gas emissions will fall despite these develop-
ments, 187 countries agreed on the key points of a new
climate protection agreement at the World Climate Confer-
ence in Bali in December 2007. The agreement was planned
to be ready for signing at the Copenhagen conference in
December 2009and become legally binding by 2012, when
the Kyoto Protocol expires. At Kyoto, the industrial nations
committed themselves to cutting their greenhouse gases
by an average of five percent by 2012 compared with
1990. The new agreement should provide for a reduction
of 25 to 40 percent by 2020. To achieve this goal, the in-
dustrial countries are to provide more climate-friendly and
energy-efficient technology to developing countries. Environmental engineering continues to grow. Accord-
ing to the German development organization GTZ, $71 bil-
lion was invested in renewable energy in 2006. That was
43 percent more than the equivalent figure for 2005. Of
that sum, $15 billion was accounted for by developing and
emerging markets. In the future, the use of regenerative energy will
expand — particularly in countries such as China, India,
and Brazil. A 2007 GTZ TERNA country study reports that a
good 80 percent of all power generated in China is
produced by fossil plants, most of which run on hard coal.
Hydroelectricity contributes between 15 and 18 percent,
nuclear energy about one percent, and wind energy much
less. According to the China’s 11th five-year plan, this situa-
tion is expected to change as follows: by 2010, natural
gas, water, wind, and nuclear energy should collectively
account for 38 percent of the country’s energy production.
By 2020, 20 percent — 290 gigawatts (GW) — should be
produced by water alone; today, the equivalent figure is
128 GW. At 676 GW, China’s hydropower potential is
greater than that of any other country. Wind power, which also enjoys considerable potential,
is to be boosted from 1 GW to 30 GW between the end of
2005 and 2020. The photovoltaic market is also growing
by the end of 2006, it had reached 65 megawatts, around
half of which powers households in outlying regions. By
2020, some 1.8 GW is expected to be installed in the form
of photovoltaic generators. Why Renewable Energy is Needed
| Facts and Forecasts
Frost & Sullivan anticipates that sales in the regenera-
tive energy market will increase from $6.9 billion in 2006
to $17.9 billion in 2013. Aside from tax breaks and spon-
sorship, Beijing has introduced other economic incentives
to promote renewable energy. “By 2013, photovoltaics will
probably even outpace wind power to become the fastest-
growing energy source in China,” says Frost & Sullivan re-
search analyst Linda Yan.
Another way of generating power in a climate-friendly
manner involves technologies for efficiently separating
. These include coal gasification, combustion with
pure oxygen and CO
2 separation from flue-gas. Although
many pilot projects along these lines already exist (pp. 36,
40), there is still some way to go before these technolo-
gies can become widely used. According to a forecast
made by the IPCC (UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change) in 2005, the energy produced by all of the plants
using CO
capture and storage (CCS) technologies will still
account for less than three percent of the energy gener-
ated worldwide by 2020. From 2000 to 2030, the cost of CCS systems is ex-
pected to drop by half from between $50 to $100 per ton
of CO
to between $25 to $50. As a result, the IEA believes
that the proportion of CCS plants could rise to 20 percent
by 2030 and to 37 percent by 2050. In this case, the CO
emissions resulting from worldwide power generation
could be reduced by up to 18 gigatons by 2050. And that
would represent an important contribution to achieving
the Bali targets.Sylvia Trage
1990 2005 2015 2030
Global demand for primary energy
Actual and forecast figures
Carbon dioxide emissions
resulting from combustion of energy carriers
Millions of tons (Mtoe)
Millions of tons
Renewable energy Nuclear energy
Predicted Energy Demand and CO
2 Emissions
Data is based on the International Energy Agency’s “Business as usual” scenario.
Clear political and technical measures are necessary to reduce CO
Source: IEA 2007. 1 Mtoe = 1 million tons oil equivalent = 41.868 PJ (petajoule)
Source: Frost & Sullivan, 2005
Sales in millions of US$ Average growth rate (2005 – 2011)
between 10 and 13% per year
Demand for Renewable Energy in Europe
In 2011, renewable energy sales in Europe alone are likely to reach almost $18 billion. That’s nearly three times the 2001 level.
10 2011
26 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2007
with the know-how to build fully functional
wind turbines, Denmark experienced a boom
that has continued to this day.” Although it’s good weather outside — in
the Danish sense — Stiesdal is evidently con-
tent to remain in his cozy office. From a drawer
he produces a chronology of wind power
technology and places it on his desk. “The first
wind turbines we built in the early ‘80s had an
output of only 22 kilowatts. Since then output
has doubled around once every four years.
At 2.3 and 3.6 megawatts, our modern plants
produce more than a hundred times as much
power. At least for now, the smaller plants
still account for around 80 percent of our
business.” Stiesdal points to a large map of Europe.
“Recently we completed one of the world’s
largest offshore-projects — the Lynn and Inner
Dowsing facilities for Great Britain. This project
consists of two adjacent windfarms about five
kilometer off the Lincolnshire coast, east of
Skegness. Together, they have an installed ca-
pacity of 194 megawatts and are expected to
provide enough electrical power to meet the
enough energy to supply my home town of
Odense and its 185,000 inhabitants, including
households, industry, street lighting and every-
thing,” he says, before entering a giant hall
where turbines are produced.
500-ton Giants. Here, massive metal nacelles,
each containing a 2.3-megawatt machine, are
lined up. We approach one of the rounded
structures, whose top is folded up at either
side, offering a view of the interior. “We’re
standing at the front of the drive shaft. That’s
where the rotor and its three blades will be
mounted from the outside. For an offshore
turbine this is a job that takes place on the
open sea. The towers are assembled on land. A spe-
cially designed ship, complete with crane, is
used to transport them along with the nacelles
and rotor blades to an offshore site. It then takes
less than half a day to install a single turbine
weighing 500 tons. Once the rotor begins turn-
ing, its motion is transmitted via the drive shaft
to the gear unit. This, in turn, transfers the
torque, which varies depending on wind
wind turbines are neatly stacked, awaiting in-
stallation. On the left are the huge steel nose
caps, which will later adorn the turbine hous-
ing, in the middle the machine nacelles, and on
the right the gigantic rotor hubs, each of which
weighs around 35 tons. The blades from Aal-
borg are delivered straight to the site of installa-
tion. The various components for the towers,
which are up to 120 meters in height, come
from external suppliers in Denmark, Germany,
the U.S. and Korea, depending on the wind
farm’s location.
Once in the hall, the white nacelle of the
3.6-megawatt turbine is unmistakable. Unlike
its smaller relative, it is angular in shape. Meas-
uring some 13 meters in length, four meters in
width, and four meters in height, it is also big-
ger. The innards of the turbine are reached via a
ladder. Various systems are spread over two sto-
ries, as if it were a small house. “Everything’s
bigger in this turbine,” says Stiesdal with typical
understatement. “But we’re already working on
even bigger ones. In fact, before long the rotor
blades on our turbines may be longer than 60
meters.” Sebastian Webel
Renewable Energy
| Wind Turbines
Before installation at sea (bottom), Henrik Stiesdal
(right) makes sure that everything is perfect —
including turbine assembly (center), and a final endurance test (left).
The first wind turbines produced 22 kilowatts —
that’s less than one hundredth of today’s output.
annual demands of more than 130,000 homes,”
he says.
Stiesdal’s eyes shine with enthusiasm. “In
October 2009, the number of installed
Siemens turbines worldwide exceeded 8,100.
Together, they have a capacity of almost 9,600
megawatts. That’s enough to produce 25 bil-
lion kilowatt hours – around 70 percent of
Denmark’s electricity consumption, which is
approximately 36 billion kilowatt hours. Our
165 MW Nysted offshore wind farm, for exam-
ple, which is off the southern coast of the
fourth-biggest Danish island Lolland, generates
strength, to the generator. The result is electrical
Stiesdal, a hobby sailor, points out that a sys-
tem of this order of magnitude requires much
more than just mechanical parts. “Today a 2.3-
megawatt turbine like this contains many levels
of processors and electronics. It might look sim-
ple and easy to understand, but the closer you
look at it, the more complicated it becomes.”
This applies all the more so to the top-of-the-
range, 3.6-megawatt turbine. On our way to in-
spect this giant, we cross the storage area. As if
in a child’s toy box, all the components for the
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008 29
| Interview Oberheitmann
The boom in renewable energy sources is benefiting developing countries, especially in remote areas not connected to power grids. It is also leading to environmental projects in large emerging markets such as India and China.
Renewable Energy | Renewable Resources
28 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008
frica is dark when seen from space — at
least at night compared to Europe and
North America. There are two reasons for this.
Africa is sparsely populated and it lacks electric-
ity. Some 500 million people south of the Sa-
hara live without electricity — that’s nearly
one-third of the 1.6 billion people who still
heat with wood and use kerosene lamps for
light. Power plants and transmission lines are ex-
pensive, especially on the poor, but large, land
masses of Africa and Asia. In fact, the Interna-
tional Energy Agency estimates that expanding
electrification to an extent that would halve
the number of people living in poverty world-
wide would cost around $16 billion a year for
the next ten years. Such a reduction of poverty
was one of the “Millennium Development
Goals” set by the United Nations at the turn of
the century. It’s far from being achieved — and
sharply rising prices for fossil raw materials
haven’t done anything to help. Still, there is hope, as technological advances
have made “eco-electricity” more affordable. A
mission in Tanzania, for example, now generates
electricity with a hybrid facility consisting of
solar cells and an engine that runs on oil made
from the local jatropha bush, thereby eliminat-
ing the need for a diesel generator. The World
Bank invests $3.6 billion per year in energy
projects, half of which focus on tapping renew-
able sources and improving energy efficiency. Toward the End of 2007 the World Bank
launched the “Lighting Africa” initiative. The
goal of the initiative is to provide up to 250 mil-
lion people in Sub-Saharan Africa with access
to electrical lighting. Lack of lighting is one rea-
son why millions of children in Africa can’t
study at night. With this in mind, Siemens sub-
sidiary Osram has become the world’s first
lighting systems manufacturer to replace mil-
lions of light bulbs in Africa and Asia with en-
ergy-saving lamps. In line with the Kyoto Proto-
col, the company will receive CO
certificates to
help finance the project (see p. 107). Ministry of Renewable Energy. Some coun-
tries have made progress. In India, for example,
many people know about alternative energy
sources, even though one out of three Indians
lives without electricity. This awareness is due
to the fact that the energy shortage caused by
the oil crisis of the 1970s led the government
to establish a Ministry of New and Renewable
Energy; the country now plans to meet 10 per-
cent of its electricity needs with power from al-
ternative sources by 2012. India is already fifth
in the world when it comes to installed wind
power output. The goal of the Chinese government is to in-
crease the share of ener
gy produced from re-
newable resources from the current eight per-
cent to 15 percent by 2020.
China also has a system similar to the one in
Germany that requires energy suppliers to pur-
chase ecologically-produced electricity at a
fixed price. World Bank energy expert Amil
Cabraal says that emerging markets are in-
spired by Europe’s extensive investment in re-
newable energy sources and the EU’s plans to
meet 20 percent of its requirements with envi-
ronmentally friendly power and heat by 2020.
Still, Cabraal warns, the green energy revolution
will require a huge amount of technological ex-
pertise and planning.
It’s a massive challenge, and mistakes are
easily made. The Capgemini consulting firm,
for example, claims that Beijing’s plans to in-
crease China’s capacity by 950 gigawatts (or
1,000 power plants) between 2006 and 2020
will result in a 30 percent shortfall. It’s also
clear that the global climate problem cannot be
solved by micro power plants or distributed so-
lar cell facilities alone. Says Opitz: “It will be
some time before the world can stop using big
power plants.” Jeanne Rubner
Renewable Energy for Developing Countries
Economist and China expert Prof. Andreas
Oberheitmann, 45, is
the director of the Re-
search Center for Inter-
national Environmental
Policy (RCIEP), as well as
a guest professor at
Tsinghua University in
Beijing. Oberheitmann
previously worked at the
RWI economic research
institute in Essen. His activities at RCIEP focus on a program
sponsored by the GTZ
technical cooperation organization that seeks
to develop practical solutions to problems associated with climate
protection in developing
countries. Interview conducted in Spring, 2008.
Why China Needs and Wants
to Conserve Energy
How big is China’s appetite for energy?
China’s current primary ener -
gy consumption is 2.4 billion tons of hard coal
units (HCU), which corresponds to about 16
percent of global consumption. China is thus
second only to the U.S. in total energy con-
sumption, and depending on how its gross do-
mestic product (GDP) develops, it will be con-
suming 6.8 to 11.7 billion tons of HCU by 2020.
That’s three to five times today’s figure —
a huge increase. What will per capita consumption be like?
Our energy demand model
projects that in 2020 each Chinese citizen will
consume an amount of energy equal to that
used by the average German today, which is
around 6.4 tons of HCU. In terms of per capita
GDP, China may wind up being wealthier than
Germany is by 2020 or 2030, given purchasing
power parity. Still, we believe it will take many
years for China to achieve the level of energy
efficiency now common among countries like
Germany. For example, China currently re-
quires 3.5 times more energy than the global
average to generate one euro’s worth of GDP.
However, because the renminbi is significantly
undervalued at the moment, the difference is not as great in terms of purchasing power
parity. That isn’t good news for the climate...
That’s right, unfortunately.
China is expected to surpass the U.S. within
the next two years as the number one pro-
ducer of CO
emissions. China already emits
6.1 billion tons of CO
per year, and that figure
will climb by ten billion tons by 2020. If drastic
measures aren’t taken, China will play a key
role in pushing up CO
emissions worldwide.
Does China need to undergo the indus-
trial revolution process as we know it in
the West? Can’t it start using environ-
mentally friendly energy sources now?
Yes and no. History is repeat-
ing itself — but at a much faster pace, with
some stages being skipped. That’s an argu-
ment to get China to sign up to environmental
protection. It’s true that the industrialized
As indicated by this satellite image, electricity is still scarce in Africa. Small solar power units and
environmentally-friendly vegetable oil stoves (below) can help to mitigate the effects of
poverty. In China (right) much of the economy is fueled by cheap coal.
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2007 31
the first developing country to draw up a gov-
ernment concept for addressing climate change.
This concept focuses on fundamental, techno-
logical, and applications research, and also in-
cludes measures for getting the public invol -
ved in the process. One way we do this is by
ex plaining to people what could be achieved if
everyone turned up their air conditioning ther-
mostat one degree, left their cars home for one
day,used environmentally friendly detergents
etc. In this way, we sensitize people to the fact
that everyone can contribute to environmental
protection and help stop climate change.
Industry plays a key role in this regard,
since outdated machines in factories can
cause significant environmental damage
that seriously endangers nature and hu-
man health. Modern equipment, on the
other hand, operates more efficiently and
cleanly… Wan:
That’s correct. Environmental protection
also involves making industrial processes more
efficient, improving process planning, and
combining technologies to create closed cy-
cles. Residual heat from steel production, for
example, can be converted to electricity; slag
can be processed into construction materials;
and cooling water can be purified. This not
only eases the strain on the environment and
conserves energy; it also creates value. We’re
now starting to do such things in China. We
know that Siemens is a worldwide leader in
environmental protection and the optimization
of industrial processes, and that the company
continues to lead the way in these areas.
Siemens thus has a lot of market potential.
What types of partnerships need to be
formed to enable the efficient use of such
technologies in China?
Environmental protection is an issue that
everyone around the globe needs to address,
and each of us has to do what he or she can to
help. In general, it’s important to make the
technologies that are already being used in the
industrialized nations affordable to developing
countries like China. Technology transfer also
furthers development and market expansion.
The more these technologies are utilized, the
more money and energy we can all save. At
the same time, China itself has to become in-
novative through its own power. Still, being an innovative country doesn’t necessarily
mean doing everything yourself or reinventing
One aspect that is of great concern to in-
ternational companies is the protection of
intellectual property. There’s a feeling
that reality still doesn’t correspond to of-
ficially stated intentions here. What is
China doing to correct this?
China has made a major effort to ad-
dress this issue over the last few years. We
joined the WTO in 2001, and we’ve also signed
international agreements and established a le-
gal system for dealing with these matters. Nu-
merous legal proceedings have been carried
out and many court rulings have been made
that protect intellectual property in China. We
know we still need to do more, and we there-
fore continue to work hard on further improv-
ing our standards. We also know that protec-
tion of intellectual property is one of the
fundamental conditions for establishing an in-
novation-focused society. After all, people will
only be motivated to develop innovations if
they’re certain these will be protected. Chinese
companies need to understand that the pro-
tection of foreign technologies also guarantees
the protection of their own new develop-
ments. This realization will ultimately have a
greater impact than tougher laws. We’ve made
a lot of progress over the last five years in this
regard, and the situation will improve even further over the next five.
The Chinese government has traditionally
played a major role in technological de-
velopments in the country. Now, how-
ever, Chinese industry is also becoming a
driving force behind innovation. What
role would you like to see each of them
play in the future?
The government will support those
things it deems important, and it will provide
investment accordingly. Take fuel cell vehicles,
for example. The technology here is not yet
ready for the market, which is why the govern-
ment needs to fund its development. However,
in those situations where a particular technol-
ogy can soon be launched on the market, the
government will simply create favorable condi-
tions for its introduction and then let the mar-
ket do the rest.
You yourself spent many years doing re-
search at a German university, and also
worked as a manager at a German au-
tomaker — so you’re familiar with the re-
spective strengths and weaknesses of the
East and West. How would you compare
conditions in the two societies?
Europe’s strength — and the strength of
Germany in particular — lies in the ability of its
industries to develop many products on their
own. Siemens offers a good example of this.
The company has developed its own strategy
for success; it invests at an early stage in inno-
vations and then brings its products to market
worldwide. China’s industry, which is relatively
young, is still unable to keep up with such
processes from either a strategic or a financial
perspective. That’s why government support is
so important, especially when it comes to
bringing companies, universities, and research
institutes together. Let’s look at fuel cell vehi-
cles again. The government coordinated coop-
eration between experts from universities, re-
search centers, and the automotive industry
here in order to develop key components and
drive systems. We th
en installed the technol-
ogy in different vehicles from manufacturers
such as Volkswagen, SAIC (Shanghai Automo-
tive Industry Cooperation), and Chery. In doing
so, we spread out the technology. I think this
type of cooperation is our great strength.
When products developed in such a manner
are ready for the market, the government will
discontinue its involvement.
Just how advanced are fuel cell vehicles
in China?
We finished building our fourth genera-
tion at the beginning of this year. It now takes
one of our fuel cell vehicles less than 15 sec-
onds to accelerate to 100 kilometers per hour,
and the top speed is 150 kilometers per hour.
We will be presenting these hydrogen-fuel ve-
hicles at the 29th Summer Olympics next year
in Beijing. Around 20 fuel cell passenger cars
and about ten fuel cell buses will be used at
the Olympic site, along with 50 battery-pow-
ered electric buses and another 300 battery-
powered small cars. All of these vehicles are
the result of Chinese research projects that we
launched five to seven years ago — and now
we’ll be seeing the technology used for the
first time in real applications.
Interview conducted by Bernhard Bartsch. Renewable Energy
| Interview Wan Gang
30 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2007
Professor Wan, you’ve been China’s Min-
ister of Science and Technology for half a
year now. What challenges does China
face in these fields?
You have to look at things from two dif-
ferent perspectives. China has achieved very
great economic successes since opening up to
the West, and it’s well on the way to industrial-
ization. This progress has led to many positive
things — but it’s also created problems in
terms of energy security, environmental pro-
tection, and climate change. We’re now
searching for ways to achieve sustainable de-
velopment, which is obviously a challenge not
only for China but also for all humanity.
What role do technological developments
play in overcoming the challenges China
A huge role, because in order to solve
the problems, we need to be innovative. This
view is also reflected in the long-term develop-
ment plan we published in 2006. China is
seeking to become an innovation-focused
country over the next ten to 15 years. How-
ever, it’s not enough to have scientists address-
ing the problems we face; China’s people need
to understand the importance of sustainable
development. Our main task at the Ministry of
Science and Technology is therefore to support
all activities that promote sustainability.
What key technologies are being pushed
the most in China today?
We’re focusing on several different ar-
eas, the most important of which are new
forms of power generation such as clean coal
systems and renewable wind and solar energy.
We’re also working on environmental protec-
tion and information technology systems.
Health care-related research is also important,
from biotechnologies and pharmaceuticals to
new diagnostic techniques and the develop-
ment of various types of medical equipment.
Fi nally, we’re conducting extensive basic re-
search into forward-looking technologies such
as nanotechnology. Again: it’s crucial to get
the entire population involved in these issues.
How do you plan to do that?
At the end of May 2007 China became
countries have largely produced the CO
accumulated in the atmosphere to date —
with the U.S. accounting for around 27 percent
and China only 8 percent. However, China will
account for a major share of future emissions.
China’s energy policy seems inconsistent
at times. The Chinese put a new coal-fired
power plant into operation every few
days, but the government also addresses
environmental issues… Oberheitmann:
Economic growth requires
energy. To get it, China must install between 60
and 100 gigawatts of new power generation
capacity each year. That’s nearly the equivalent
of Germany’s current total capacity. More than
70 percent of the new facilities in China are
coal-fired plants, which of course produce
emissions. China’s government is aware of
all this, which is why its current Five-Year Plan
contains ambitious goals such as reducing spe-
cific energy consumption per unit of GDP by
20 percent between now and 2010. China
both needs and wants to conserve energy. Its
economy is now growing at ten percent a year.
Obviously its energy consumption can’t grow
at the same pace. In response, the country is
introducing measures that will also improve
energy security. And China has produced re-
sults. The four-gigawatt Huaneng Yuhuan
power facility, for example, has an efficiency
rating of 45 percent — a top value for a steam
power plant. China is also building the world’s
highest-capacity direct current transmission
line, which will be able to supply 5,000
megawatts. In addition, the country plans to
limit new residential construction in large
cities to buildings that require 65 percent less
energy than the level required by today’s stan-
dard. Investments are also being made in dis-
trict heating systems.
Can China also make greater use of distributed energy sources such as solar
cells and wind turbines?
Such an approach is good for
remote areas not linked to the power grid. Tibet
uses a lot of hydro power, for example, and so-
lar-thermal facilities for hot water can be found
throughout the country. Although photovoltaic
systems are still often very expensive, China is
the world’s leading manufacturer of solar cells.
In remote areas, photovoltaic systems are used
mostly as a substitute for biomass, although
they also power small diesel generators. Photo -
voltaic power isn’t usually channeled into the
public grid. The situation with regard to solar
power could change over the long term, of
course, if oil prices increase dramatically. Interview conducted by Jeanne Rubner.
Prof. Wan Gang, 57, has
been China’s Minister of
Science and Technology
since April 2007. Wan received a Master’s degree
in automotive engineer-
ing at Tongji University in
Shanghai. In 1990 he received a PhD from the
Clausthal University of
Technology in Germany,
after which he joined Audi
in Ingolstadt, working ini-
tially in the Vehicle Devel-
opment department and
later serving on the Plan-
ning Committee. At the
end of 2000 Wan returned
to Tongji University to coordinate a nationwide
research program for the
development of electric vehicles and hydrogen
technology. In 2004, he
was named president of
his alma mater. Interview conducted
in Fall, 2007.
China’s Road to Sustainable Development
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2008 33
Flaming Scrap
A technology developed by Siemens makes it possible to convert biomass waste into energy with a high degree of efficiency.
Renewable Energy
| Biomass
32 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2008
ur little toy” is how engineers at the resid-
ual waste cogeneration plant in Böblin-
gen, Germany, refer to their 20-meter tower,
which is crammed into a hall located next to a
residual waste and slag bunker. The engineers
are used to large numbers — over 150,000
tons of waste is burned here each year in order
to produce electricity and heat. “When we say
toy, we aren’t being derogatory,” says plant
manager Guido Bauernfeind. “On the contrary,
the SIPAPER Reject Power facility is perfect for
us.” One reason for this is that since September
2008 another type of raw material has also
been converted to energy here — garden and
forest scrap that has fallen through the facility’s
sieves. The facility's tower, which is clad in silvery
sheet metal, is itself a small power plant. Its
furnace chamber looks like a giant pizza oven
whose vaulted interior is lined with fire bricks
and is additionally insulated by half a meter of
being considered. “Organic waste from beer
production would also be a possibility,” says
Schwarz, who adds that the required technical
adaptations would not be all that difficult to
implement. “Basically, what we always need is
a fuel with a certain type of particle size distri-
bution — but we create that ourselves when
we process it. The water content during this
process can be up to 40 percent.” The key to efficient combustion involves de-
termining the optimal fuel-air mixture — con-
trol is fully automatic. “SIPAPER Reject Power
offers great potential for exploiting biomass,”
Schwarz says. The most interesting markets for
the exploitation of biomass waste at the mo-
ment are in the European Union — especially
in Germany and in the Eastern European EU
member states — as well as in Brazil and In-
donesia. Biomass Boom. “Biomass harbors huge,
largely untapped potential,” says Dr. Martin
Kaltschmitt of the Biomass Research Center
(DBFZ) in Leipzig. According to the DBFZ, more
than 30 biomass power plants that use scrap
wood or forest wood went on line in Germany
in 2007 alone, and a total of more than 210
such facilities are currently operating in the
country. The development of biogas facilities
has been even more dramatic. Energy produc-
tion in 2007 was 828 petajoules (43% as heat,
38% as electricity, and 19% transport), which
corresponds to around six percent of total pri-
mary energy use in Germany. “That figure
could be almost doubled if all existing techno-
logical potential were to be harnessed,”
Kaltschmitt explains. In any case, Kaltschmitt
says, we can expect the biomass boom to con-
tinue throughout Europe and around the world
for the coming years at least. It’s possible that bio-energy production
could cover one-third of global energy require-
ments by 2050. This would require the ex-
ploitation of around one-fifth of arable land,
according to the Copernicus Institute in
Utrecht, Netherlands. However, Thomas Nuss-
baumer, a professor of Bio-energy at Lucerne
University of Applied Arts and Sciences in
Switzerland, believes such a development
could exacerbate hunger in the Third World. To
support his argument, he cites the negative re-
sults associated with first-generation agrofuels
made from corn, rapeseed, soy, and sugar
cane. But Nussbaumer admits that the poten-
tial to expand agricultural production in devel-
oping countries is still high. “Ideally,” he says,
“The edible portions of plants would be used
for food and animal feed production, while the
rest would be put to work in energy produc-
tion.” Urs Fitze
concrete. The outside temperature thus re-
mains hand-hot, even when the fire within
reaches 950 degrees Celsius. The RBB Böblingen energy cooperative col-
lects about 16,000 tons of sieve residues from
clipping and forest thinning work each year.
These are chopped into chips that are then
used as fuel for cogeneration plants and wood-
fired heating systems. The pieces that fall
through the sieves are too small for this, how-
ever, as they would turn into slag after com-
bustion and clog the furnace grates in large
power plants. They also have a much lower
calorific value, which would necessitate a spe-
cialized combustion procedure. “Our capacity
would also preclude burning this material at
our cogeneration plant,” Bauernfeind added. A solution was offered by SIPAPER Reject
Power technology, which was originally devel-
oped by Siemens’ Industry Sector for the paper
industry (see Pictures of the Future, Spring
2007, p. 94). Up until a few years ago, the pa-
per industry disposed of its waste in landfills.
Today, it either avoids waste or converts it into
energy. But the tiny particles of waste pro-
duced during paper production couldn’t be ef-
fectively burned, as they were simply too inho-
mogeneous and damp. The answer came in the form of a wheel
that flings the particles at high speeds into the
furnace chamber. This setup makes for a much
better distribution of the particles and thus
more effective combustion. It also eliminates
the danger of slag buildup. The first SIPAPER
Reject Power facility entered service nearly four
years ago at a paper mill in Austria, where it
produces heat and electricity for the factory’s
own use. “This form of waste recycling cuts the
factory’s primary energy use by up to a third,”
says Dr. Hermann Schwarz, a technology prod-
uct manager at the Siemens Industry Solutions
Division in Erlangen. The technology, which is particularly suit-
able for burning damp biomass made up of dif-
ferent parts, “is ideal for medium-sized biomass
facilities generating five to 25 megawatts,”
says Manfred Haselgrübler, Reject Power man-
ager in Linz, Austria. Larger systems are better served by conven-
tional power plants that use either reciprocat-
ing grates or a constant air flow. But smaller fa-
cilities, such as Siemens’ cogeneration plant in
Böblingen, which has a thermal output of five
megawatts, can enjoy impressive efficiency. In-
deed, the Böblingen facility has an energy yield
of 85 percent. An 800-kilowatt generator deliv-
ers electricity to the grid; the remaining energy
is heat, which is channeled into the plant’s ex-
isting district heating network. The Böblingen biomass plant marks the be-
ginning of what will be a series of applications.
For instance, burning coarse colza meal is also
In Brief According to the International Energy
Agency IEA, the global consumption of pri-
mary energy will rise by 55% between 2005
and 2030 if current policies are maintained.
Fossil fuels will continue to be the key source
of primary energy. However, because of the
combustion involved, by 2030 the quantity of CO
emitted due to increased use of fossil
fuels would be double that of 1990. For this
reason the BRIC states are increasingly resort-
ing to energy sources involving low CO
sion and renewable sources such as wind,
water, sun and biomass. China’s eleventh
five-year plan states that by 2010, 38% of the
country’s power is to come from water, wind,
nuclear energy and natural gas.
By 2050, 15 to 20 percent of Europe’s en-
ergy needs could be satisfied by solar and
wind power from North Africa and the Middle
East. That’s the goal of the Desertec Industrial
Initiative, whose founder companies include
Siemens. The technologies needed to accom-
plish this goal are available now, from solar
thermal plants that produce power from sun-
light in Spain and California to high-voltage
direct current (HVDC) transmission lines,
which can transmit electricity over long dis-
tances with low losses. Solar-thermally pro-
duced electricity is expected to be competi-
tive in about 15 years, says Prof. Hans
Müller-Steinhagen of the German Aero space
Center in an interview. (p. 14)
Siemens built the world’s largest offshore
wind farm 30 kilometers off the coast
of Denmark. In terms of technology and lo-
gistics it’s a formidable challenge. The indi-
vidual components weigh dozens of tons and
must function flawlessly under rough North
Sea conditions for 20 years. The 91 turbines
can pump around 210 Megawatts of electri-
cal power into the network – enough to sup-
ply over 136,000 households. The one-piece
rotor blades are extremely robust and up to
90-percent recyclable. Together with Statoil
Hydro, Siemens has additionaly built the
world’s first floating wind turbine. The swim-
ming windmill is located 12 Kilometers off
the southwest coast of Norway at a depth of
about 220 meters. (p. 20)
The boom in renewable energy sources is
benefiting developing countries, especially in remote areas not connected to power grids. It
is also leading to environmental projects in
large emerging markets such as India and
China. In an interview with Pictures of the Fu-
ture, China’s Minister of Science and Technol-
ogy Wan Gang describes his country’s road to
sustainable development. Economist and
China expert Prof. Andreas Oberheitmann ex-
plains, why China needs and wants to con-
erve energy. (p. 28)
Siemens has developed a new technology
for biomass energy production. The process
makes it possible to convert inhomogenous
and damp sieve residues from wood chip pro-
duction into electricity and heat with a high
degree of efficiency. According to Dr. Martin
Kaltschmitt of the Biomass Research Center in
Leipzig, Germany, one can expect the Biomass
boom to continue throughout Europe and
around the world for the coming years. By
2050, bio-energy production could cover one-
third of global energy requirements. (p. 32)
In 2008 Siemens for the first time docu-
mented its complete Environmental Portfolio,
which lists all products and solutions that help
protect the environment and battle climate
change. The list accounts for more than 25
percent of the company’s sales, and in 2009
amounted to €23 billion: much more than any
competitor. In the same period of time,
Siemens customers reduced their carbon diox-
ide emissions by 210 million metric tons,
which is roughly more than 40 times the level
of CO
that Siemens itself produces. Inde-
pendent auditing company Pricewaterhouse
Coopers regularly confirmes the validity of the
Siemens Environmental Portfolio and the sav-
ings it has generated, as well as the method
Siemens used to calculate the savings. (p. 8)
Desertec Foundation:
Research Center for International Environmental Policy China, RCIEP:
International Energy Agency IEA:
A process developed by Siemens makes it possible to convert inhomogeneous and damp sieve residues from wood chip production into electricity and heat.
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009 35
Investments in clean technologies — from efficient
and renewable power generation and transmission
to green buildings and CO
capture and sequestra-
tion — can help overcome the economic crisis.
emissions trading system will help cut the
U.S.’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent
by 2050.
In terms of private investment, in the first
three quarters of 2008 alone, American ven-
ture capital firms invested $4.3 billion in clean
technology companies. And with investments
in the fields of renewable energy and energy
efficiency expected to reach $150 billion over
the next ten years, at least five million green
collar jobs are expected to be created in these
and other areas.
All of this makes a great deal of economic
sense because these measures will reduce de-
pendence on energy imports and cut associ-
ated costs by several billion dollars per year —
steps that will pay ever-increasing dividends as
the world economy regains momentum and oil
prices resume their ascent.Christian Buck
| Interview Edenhofer
Prof. Ottmar Edenhofer,
48, studied economics and
philosophy and is deputy
director and chief econo-
mist of the Potsdam Insti-
tute for Climate Impact Research. He is also profes-
sor for the Economics of
Climate Change at Berlin
Technical University. Since
September 2008, he has
been one of the chairmen
of the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC). For the next seven
years, he will lead Working
Group III of the IPCC, which
deals with measures to
stem climate change. Professor Edenhofer is par-
ticularly interested in the
influence of technological
change on the costs and
strategies of climate protec-
tion, and on the political in-
struments that are used to
shape climate-protection
and energy policy.
Interview conducted in
Spring, 2009.
Why Climate Protection Isn’t Optional
We’re currently struggling with two crises
at once —
the economic crisis and the climate crisis. Is that just a coincidence, or do you see parallels?
There definitely is a parallel. Both
are crises of sustainability. Sustainability can
be formulated as an imperative: Act in such a
way that you don’t destroy the foundations
that enable you to act in the long run! In the financial crisis, the banking sector destroyed
the foundation of its own business.
Were people too greedy?
Maybe, but a more important fac-
tor was that the banking sector worldwide was
improperly regulated, so that it wasn’t possible
to stop the greed. The emphasis on share-
holder value made investors focus on short-
term results. For the U.S., in particular, there
was the added problem that the Federal Re-
serve Bank — through its cheap-money policy
— essentially transferred the dot-com bubble
to the mortgage bubble. All of that destroyed
the foundations of the economy. And in the
climate crisis, we’re in the midst of destroying
the foundations of our existence. Is human short-sightedness the source of
both crises?
I think it would be more correct to
call it institutional short-sightedness. The sys-
tem doesn’t permit any longer-term horizons
— that’s the crucial point. Every manager has
to satisfy the demands of the capital market
and his or her shareholders. I think it’s naive to
believe the problem can be cured just by ap-
pealing to people’s sense of ethics.
Policy-makers want a new regulatory
framework for the global financial mar-
ket. What regulations would they have to
establish to ensure better treatment of
the climate?
More than anything else, we need
a global emissions cap and trade system with
two basic prerequisites. First, an agreement
among nations that emissions of greenhouse
gases must be cut by 50 percent below 1990
levels by 2050. That way, there’s an 80 percent
probability that global warming will be limited
to two degrees Celsius. Emissions trading lim-
its CO
where prevention is most cost-effec-
34 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009
Pictures of the Future
| Economic Crisis and Opportunities
hese are difficult times for the climate. The
economic crisis is dominating the political
agenda and crowding out discussion of green-
house gases and energy efficiency. In Ger-
many, newspapers are running headlines like
“Climate Protection on Hold” and “Climate Pro-
tection at Risk.” Some politicians share this
view and would like to suspend those climate-
protection programs that are already agreed
on, at least until the economy rebounds.
Is climate protection a luxury for better
times? “No,” says Prof. Ottmar Edenhofer, chief
economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate
Impact Research (PIK) in an interview with Pic-
tures of the Future
. “Anyone who claims it is
doesn’t understand the fundamentals of eco-
nomics,” he says. The global recession de-
mands government intervention, and this can
be directed in part toward climate protection.
Engines of Tomorrow’s Growth
As times get tougher, temptation is mounting to cut costs and relax standards in the fight against global warming. Yet investments in greater sustainability benefit not only environmental protection but also the health of economies.
“In the short term, climate protection programs
stimulate the economy. In the long term, they
promote the spread of new technologies,” he
says. That view is shared by Nobuo Tanaka, who
heads the International Energy Agency (IEA) in
Paris, France. “If governments are spending
money on economic stimulus packages, why
not promote renewable energies?” he asked at
the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzer-
land. Such investments support the economy
in the short term and are also sustainable,
Tanaka pointed out. At the moment, however, the falling prices
of raw materials and emissions rights are re-
ducing the pressure on nations and companies
to find sustainable alternatives for their supply
of energy. “Low prices are encouraging waste,”
says environmental expert Prof. Ernst Ulrich
von Weizsäcker in an interview with Pictures of
the Future
. He believes that some countries are
now approaching the matter with reduced ur-
gency. “However,” he adds, “the Chinese are on
their toes, and they’ve made energy efficiency
a national objective.” In the U.S., too, the new Administration is
rethinking environmental issues. President
Barack Obama wants to become a global leader
in the reduction of greenhouse gases. His “New
Energy for America” plan intends to put a mil-
lion hybrid cars on American roads by 2015
and ensure that the United States gets one
fourth of its electricity from renewable sources
by 2025. A good ten percent of the U.S. gov-
ernment’s stimulus package — in other words,
around $83 billion — will be invested in the ex-
pansion and modernization of the country’s
energy infrastructure. In addition, a national
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009 37
Siemens believes that investing in climate
protection could promote growth. Others
disagree. Is this something we can afford
only when the economy is strong?
That’s the impression being given
now by some. This thinking has its roots in the
regulation of pollutant emissions, where only
the rich countries could afford environmental
protection. But in the case of climate protec-
tion, the problems are mostly caused by the
rich. They use more energy, eat more meat and
fly more. The economic crisis offers a great op-
portunity to reverse this course and create jobs
at the same time. In Europe and Japan, that’s
already understood. Now it seems that this idea
is being accepted in the U.S. as well. Prof. Ernst Ulrich von
Weizsäcker, 70, is a
physicist and biologist. He
has served as a professor
at German universities, as
director of the UN Center
for Science and Technol-
ogy in New York, as president of the Wuppertal
Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy,
and as a member of the
German Bundestag for the
SPD. Most recently, Profes-
sor von Weizsäcker was
dean of the Donald Bren
School for Environmental
Science and Management
at the University of California in Santa Barbara. He is considered
a leading force behind the
concept of sustainable development.
Interview conducted in
Spring, 2009.
Why Increased Efficiency Will Lead to a
More Advanced Civilization
times more energy efficient with simple meas-
ures. But as long as energy is cheap, that does-
n’t happen. We could make energy more ex-
pensive in small steps through taxes or
emissions certificates, in parallel with increas-
ing energy efficiency. That’s fair in social terms
and makes efficiency more profitable. Investors
could make long-term plans. Habits will
change, possibly even our relationship to the
automobile. There might be more car-sharing
instead of ownership, for example.
Raw materials’ prices are falling because
of the crisis. Couldn’t that cause countries
such as China to become less concerned
with energy efficiency?
Do you expect the U.S. to take a leading
role in climate protection?
Obama can’t change the U.S.
overnight. But the country is more receptive to
climate protection than commonly thought.
Some states have been involved for years, and
many companies are far ahead of the politi-
cians, too. Now the federal government is fol-
lowing suit. Obama’s rescue plan for the auto
industry puts a lot of emphasis on the environ-
ment. That’s a big step in the right direction.
Why does Europe have an edge here?
In Europe, people earn a good liv-
ing from environmental protection and energy
efficiency. That’s where the future lies, in my
view; that’s becoming the rhythm of technolog-
ical progress. Energy and water are scarce. We
should learn to use both three times, five
times, ten times more efficiently, and especially
the end user. Then it’s fine if energy and water
get more expensive. Japan showed how to do
this in the ‘80s, when electricity and gasoline
were very expensive. After its modernization
programs, the country was twice as efficient as
Australia or the U.S. at the time of the Kyoto
Conference in 1997, providing twice as much
prosperity per kilowatt-hour.
Is higher energy efficiency the key in the
fight against climate change?
Weizsäcker: Yes. Today, we can conjure up ten
times more light from a kilowatt-hour than just
a few years ago. Buildings can be kept warm
with a tenth of the heating energy used back
then. The whole country could become five
Yes, low prices are encouraging
waste again. But the Chinese are on their toes,
and they’ve made energy efficiency a national
objective in the Eleventh Five-Year Plan. How do you rate the economic stimulus
programs as they relate to climate protec-
The German government and the
U.S. are acting pretty sensibly. The focus is on
rescuing the credit institutions. At the same
time, Obama is pushing the auto industry to-
ward more efficiency, and he wants to spend
billions on renewable energies. Environmental
considerations can help overcome the disorien-
tation of the economy.
Are you optimistic about the future?
We’ll manage, assuming that key
countries, such as the U.S. and China, have the
courage to adopt a climate-friendly course. I
believe that we’re moving toward a new, long-
term Kondratiev wave — with a paradigm shift
toward more energy efficiency and the associ-
ated innovations and investments. I like to
compare our current infrastructure and prod-
ucts with the dinosaurs. Our cars, houses and
appliances are wasteful and outdated. The
coming society will be more efficient and more
elegant than today’s. In that society, for exam-
ple, people will use computers that don’t
waste energy and are as efficient as the hu-
man brain. That won’t entail a drop in the
quality of life. On the contrary, I see us enter-
ing a new epoch of advanced civilization.
Interview by Christian Buck.
| Interview Weizsäcker
36 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009
Pictures of the Future
| Economic Crisis and Opportunities
tive. Second, we also need a concept of fair-
ness. We have to distribute emissions rights
among countries in an evenhanded way. In my
view, a fair proposal has been made in this re-
gard. By 2050, the rights should be redistrib-
uted in such a way that every person on earth
has the same right to emissions — for exam-
ple, two tons per person per year.
Will developing countries accept that? After all, up to this point, pollution has
been caused mostly by the rich countries
— at the rate of 19 tons per person per
year in the U.S. and eight tons in the EU.
China is at two to three tons already, and
India is at 1.5 tons per person.
There will continue to be consid-
erable conflict and disagreement about the allocation, because the developing countries
also want to take historical emissions into ac-
count. What is more important, though, is that
we agree that we have only a limited amount
of capacity in the atmosphere for more CO
and it has to be allocated reasonably fairly. After that, we have to achieve a carbon-free
global economy. If we develop the innovations
needed for that, we can also resolve the alloca-
tion conflict much more easily. Does that mean that we will have to start
living more modestly?
Only if economic growth cannot
be decoupled from emissions. For decoupling
to occur, however, pricing mechanisms will
have to set the right incentives — which is
what emissions trading is designed to do. No new moderation, in other words?
No one should be prevented from
exercising more moderation. But I think that
the global economy can continue to grow at a
rate of two to three percent per year, because
there is no reason why economies should be
dependent on increased energy use to grow. In
the last 150 years, labor productivity has risen
faster than energy productivity. Now we have
to reverse that relationship. What sort of technological progress do we
need to achieve a CO
-free economy?
More energy efficiency, the cap-
ture and storage of CO
, the promotion of re-
newable energies, a moderate expansion of
nuclear energy, and the development of more
advanced nuclear power plants.
That sounds like a huge economic stimu-
lus plan. Do you think we can extricate
ourselves from the economic crisis
through climate protection investments?
We could indeed, yes. What is im-
portant is that we now boost the economy
with investments that also make sense for the
long term. That’s why we need an emissions
trading system that sends a clear price signal
for CO
— a signal for every sector that pro-
duces greenhouse gases; not just the electric-
ity sector and energy-intensive industries, but
above all buildings and cars. There are many
options here that don’t cost anything and actu-
ally generate revenue through energy savings.
Is emissions trading working in the areas
where it is already established?
We’re not in bad shape in that re-
gard. Emissions will surely fall in the electrical
power sector. But there is a sustainability prob-
lem here too. Investors need a signal that
emissions have to continue to fall after 2020.
That, in my view, is the responsibility of the cli-
mate conference in Copenhagen (Denmark) in
December 2009. The climate protection discussion involves concepts similar to those in the
financial sector, such as certificates, for
example. Are these systems similar in
Yes. At some point, we will also
need a central bank for climate protection.
Such an institution would regulate the market
for CO
certificates and prevent speculative
bubbles. That’s similar to what a central bank
does in the financial sector. In terms of global
emissions trading, the U.S., together with Europe, could take the lead in creating a trans-
Atlantic carbon market of the kind proposed by the EU in January 2009. The prospects for
this are good. This would be a signal to India,
China, and others. We need to involve these
large emerging economies because they can
limit CO
emissions much more cost-effec-
tively than the West can, where most power
plants already meet a high standard of effi-
How can the BRIC nations be persuaded
to take part in this? After all, they still
have a lot of catching up to do economi-
China and India are well aware
that, in the future, they will not only be the
largest sources of emissions, but will also be
the ones who suffer most from climate
change. Many of their largest cities are located
on the coasts, where a rise in sea levels could
be very dangerous. In addition, these countries
need new technologies to cope with their
heavy dependence on coal. In this connection,
we’re right in the midst of a global renaissance
of coal. In light of that, it should be possible to
put together a good package — with power
plants that capture CO
, which is then stored,
for example.
As a member of the IPCC, you have first
hand experience with global climate protection politics. Is it realistic to think
that the community of nations will agree
on an effective plan? Edenhofer:
We cannot afford a catastrophe. If it becomes possible to see and feel climate
change, it will be too late. In the next ten
years, we must create an agreement that com-
prises at least the six countries that produce
the most greenhouse gas emissions. Maybe
the chances of developing a sensible response
aren’t very high. But when we are confronted
by historic challenges, we should ask not
about probabilities, but about necessities. In short, climate protection isn’t optional...
Exactly. Anyone who claims it is
doesn’t understand the fundamentals of eco-
nomics. That would be like saying we want to
have a market economy, but prices will be al-
lowed to express the scarcity of goods only
when it’s convenient. That kind of thinking led
to the collapse of the Soviet economy, where
there was always a reason to continue with
subsidies. Because of the long-term distortion
of prices, the system was doomed to fail. The
ability of our atmosphere to store CO
is also a
limited asset. Environmental protection is
therefore not optional; it’s about implementing
price systems that express a very real scarcity.
Interview by Christian Buck.
China’s Yuhuan power plant has achieved
record efficiency using Siemens turbines.
44 China’s River of Power
Starting in 2010, hydroelectric
plants are to supply energy to
megacities in southeast China —
with power generated 1,400 km
away. An HVDC transmission line
from Siemens will transport this
environmentally-friendly electrici-
ty in the most powerful system of
its kind anywhere.
48 Trapping the Wind
In the future, fluctuations in wind
power will have to be balanced by
storage systems in order to pre-
vent power grids from being over-
loaded. One option could be gi-
gantic underground hydrogen
storage centers.
54 Transparent Network
Smart meters enable consumers
to monitor and manage their
power use. Thanks to these digital
systems, utilities can, for the first
time, gain detailed, real-time in-
sight into network dynamics, thus
opening the door to significant
savings. 60 From Wind to Wheels
Electric cars could play a stabi-
lizing role in tomorrow’s power
grids, as mobile electricity stor-
age units. Siemens is investigat-
ing how vehicles, the grid, and
renewable energy sources inter-
Pensioner Yun Jang listens to his nephew
explain how China is stilling its hunger for
energy. An IGCC power plant uses coal to
produce climate-friendly energy. The CO
it generates is stored underground. Wind
turbines feed electricity into an intelligent
network, and automated building manage-
ment systems are linked with weather fore-
casts. People drive to work in plug-in hybrid
cars that are fueled by solar energy. 38
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008 39
an, my old friend, do you remember
what our life was like just a few years
ago? Do you recall the days when our little vil-
lage was still one of the few places in China
that wasn’t connected to the electrical net-
work? I’m sure you’ll agree with me that those
were literally dark days, even though there was
sometimes a greater sense of community. After
the sun went down it was usually impossible to
play Mahjong, as the petroleum lamp in your
hut was too dim. I’ve come to believe that you
actually didn’t mind a bit — you’re simply a bad
loser. That’s probably also the reason why you
bought yourself a television as soon as we had
electricity. Ever since then, our Mahjong games
China, 2020. Pensioner Jun Yang has been invited by his
nephew to visit the new Ministry of Energy. The small village where Jun Yang lives has been connected to the
electrical grid for only a few years, so he’d like to know
where the energy that has changed his life comes from. He
reports on his experiences in a letter to his friend Wan. New World Tomorrow’s Power Grids | S c e n a r i o 2 0 2 0
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 4140 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008
have been a thing of the past. You sit all
evening in front of that thing, looking at a
world that you don’t understand. For my part, I at least want to understand
the thing that has changed our little world so
much. I’m sure you remember my nephew Li,
who is doing well professionally at the Ministry
of Energy. He’s a very modern person, and he’s
the one who gave my wife all of those electrical
household appliances. Ever since then she’s
had a lot more free time, and that has also
made my life much more complicated. But I’m
digressing — pardon me. At any rate, Li invited
me to visit him in the Ministry’s brand-new ad-
ministration building. Of course I accepted. He
thought this would broaden my horizons. By
now, dear Wan, my horizons are so broad that I
can no longer see their limits.
It all began this morning at the train station.
Li had said he would send a car to pick me up.
The car came very soon, but I couldn’t hear the
sound of an engine as it came around the cor-
ner. The driver seemed to be amused when I
asked him if there was something wrong with
the engine. He explained that the car was pow-
ered entirely by electricity stored in lithium-ion
batteries. However, he added that it had a
small combustion engine that would be used in
case of an emergency – such as a charging sta-
tion failure, for instance. The vehicle’s batteries
could be recharged by simply plugging the car
into a wall socket. When we reached the Min-
istry, the driver parked the car in a parking lot
under a roof equipped with a solar collector
and the vehicle was automatically connected
to a docking station and to the grid. The batter-
ies, he explained, are also used as buffers. They
store excess energy from huge wind farms and
later return it to the grid when needed.
The administration building loomed into
the sky, and I felt a little bit lost in the gigantic
entrance hall. A friendly receptionist accompa-
nied me to a glass elevator. She told me my
nephew was waiting for me on the 40th floor
and pressed a button. At just that moment I
was catapulted upward, and I felt as though my
stomach had stayed on the ground floor with
the nice lady in the foyer. The earth became
smaller so fast that I had to close my eyes.
When I opened them again I saw Li’s beaming
face in front of me. “Welcome to our energy
management headquarters, Uncle Jun,” he said
and led me — I was still a bit shaky — into a big
room with a gigantic window.
“From here we always have a good overview
of the country’s entire energy supply,” he said.
“As you know, about ten years ago China
passed the U.S. as the world’s biggest genera-
tor of CO
emissions, and that’s why we had to
boost our efforts to preserve the environment.
Today we already produce a large percentage
of our energy in ways that protect the climate,”
said Li proudly as he pointed to the many wind
turbines on the horizon. “By the way, all of the
wind turbines are linked via Internet with con-
tinuously updated local weather forecasts, so
that we can effectively predict how much elec-
tricity they will produce.” Next, he pointed to a message that ap-
peared on the window as though written by a
spirit’s hand. “A bad storm has just been fore-
cast for our region. Our warning system recom-
mends that we adapt the wind farm’s perform-
ance so that power networks won’t be
overloaded.” A short time later, it suddenly be-
came comfortably warm and bright — just as it
does after I’ve had a good cup of plum wine at
your house, Wan. But Li assured me that in this
case it was due to the building management
system. This system is also linked with the
weather forecast, and it automatically adjusts
the room temperature and lighting according-
ly. By the way, there are no lamps in the entire
building. Instead, there are highly efficient
light-emitting diodes. All that saves a lot of en-
ergy and reduces carbon dioxide emissions,
says Li. I was surprised to hear that our old
coal-burning stoves in the village emit more
than the gigantic coal-fired power plant
not far from this building. My nephew explained that this brand-new
power plant was what they call an IGCC facility,
which doesn’t burn the coal directly, but in-
stead transforms it into a gas containing hydro-
gen that then fuels a turbine. The CO
is sepa-
rated out in the process. You won’t believe
what happens next. The gas is collected, re-
moved through pipelines, and finally pumped
deep into the earth. There, in an underground
depot that used to be a natural gas reservoir, it
can remain for thousands of years without es-
caping to the surface, according to Li. Li obviously noticed my skeptical look, be-
cause he laid his hand on my arm reassuringly
and said, “That’s really true, but now we’re also
building power plants that don’t need any coal
at all — for example, facilities that generate
electricity only from the ocean waves and float-
ing wind turbines that are used on the open
sea.” Basically, it’s crazy, isn’t it? What a lot of
effort just to operate your TV and my wife’s
washing machine!
Incidentally, my nephew gave me a very un-
usual present when we parted: Mahjong as a
computer game. This way, I can even play it
alone, he said. Unfortunately, I don’t have a
computer, but he said that the game will also
work with a TV. Wan, my old friend, are you do-
ing anything next Sunday evening?
Florian Martini
Tomorrow’s Power Grids
| Scenario 2020
| Trends
through Europe’s grids, despite the fact that
many of the continent’s power lines are now
over 40 years old. Gridlock is inevitable, how-
ever, as traffic continues to increase. Accord-
ing to the International Energy Agency, the
European Union generated roughly 3,600 tera -
watt hours (TWh) of electricity in 2006. This is
expected to reach 4,300 TWh by 2030. In addition, the energy mix is getting more
environmentally friendly. In 20 years, some 30
percent of the world’s electricity is expected to
come from renewable sources. Today the fig-
ure is only 18 percent. But as the percentage
of electricity generated by renewables grows,
so does the instability of the network. Because
eco-friendly electricity is primarily generated by
wind farms, much more energy than can be
used is pumped into high voltage network in
stormy weather, while supply cannot be guar-
anteed on calm days. In addition to being able to accommodate
a fluctuating supply of wind-generated elec-
tricity, tomorrow’s grids will have to incorpo-
rate a growing number of small, regional
power producers. “The generation of electric-
ity will become increasingly decentralized, in-
corporating small solar installations on
rooftops, biomass plants, mini cogeneration
plants and much more,” says Dr. Michael Wein-
hold, CTO of the Siemens Energy Sector. “As a
result, the previous flow of power from the
transmission to the distribution grid will be re-
versed in part or for periods of time in many
regions.” According to Weinhold, our grid in-
frastructure is not yet prepared for that. Grid operators and governments agree on
how the challenge should be met. In addition
to a massive expansion of electricity highways,
the grids must undergo a fundamental
change. “Right now they are not very intelli-
gent,” says Weinhold. “The level of automation
for the system as a whole is very low.” The
low-voltage distribution grid, in particular, is
often a total mystery to utilities. Because it in-
cludes hardly any components capable of
communication in its present configuration, a
lot of important information remains con-
cealed, such as the actual amount of energy
being used by consumers and the condition
and efficiency of the line system. According to an Accenture study, up to ten
percent of energy disappears from the grid ei-
ther due to inefficiency or electricity theft
without being noticed by power providers. In
otorists who venture into the maze of a
major city are part of a larger whole.
Tens of thousands of vehicles stream along
highways from all directions and find their way
through a dense network of roads. But keep-
ing that network flowing is no easy task. Al-
ready hopelessly clogged under the best of cir-
cumstances, such networks can easily face
gridlock. All it takes is a few fender benders —
to say nothing of circumstances such as a sub-
way strike or a snow storm. As a result, sooner
or later, every city government must decide
whether to expand its transportation infra-
structure or face collapse.
The situation with our power grid is similar.
Electricity flows on copper “highways” from
power plants to centers of demand. Along the
way, it passes through various “road networks”
that are separated by substations. These facili-
ties function as traffic lights or railroad
switches while also adjusting the electricity be-
fore forwarding it to the next grid. In the high-
est voltage alternating current lines, electricity
flows at 220 to 380 kilovolts (kV) across hun-
dreds of kilometers from power plants to sub-
stations, where the voltage is reduced to 110
kV before the electricity is then fed into the
what is called the distribution or high-voltage
grid. This grid is used for the general distribu-
tion of power to population centers or large in-
dustrial sites, where, depending on the region,
the voltage is stepped down again to between
six and 30 kV for the medium-voltage grid.
This is followed by local distribution. Here,
substations reduce the voltage to 230 and 400
volts and send the power into the low-voltage
grid, which feeds consumers’ outlets.
Needed: Electricity Highways. Until now,
electrons have flown relatively smoothly
More and more electricity will be generated in the future. However, old grids can scarcely handle the electricity generated today. Electric “gridlock” is a real threat.
Switching on the Vision
Our power grids are facing new challenges. They will not only have to integrate large
quantities of fluctuating wind and solar power, but also incorporate an increasing number of small, decentralized power producers. Today’s infrastructure is not up to this task. The solution is to develop an intelligent grid that keeps electricity production
and distribution in balance.
Super Grids. The steadily increasing dis-
tances between power generation sites and
consumers must also be bridged. One element
of a solution to this problem could be high-
voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission,
which is capable of transporting large amounts
of electricity across thousands of kilometers
with low losses. Siemens is currently building
the world’s highest capacity HVDC transmission
system in China. The system is scheduled to
begin transmitting electricity generated at hy-
droelectric plants with a record voltage of 800
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 43
Most of tomorrow’s electricity will be generated
from renewables such as wind. With HVDC tech-
nology, the power can be transmitted over long
distances (here an 800 kV transformer). kV across a distance of 1,400 kilometers by
2010. Weinhold believes that these electricity
highways will not only cross borders in the fu-
ture, but will link entire continents. “We will
see the establishment of super grids in regions
that can be interconnected across climate and
time zones,” he says, adding that this would al-
low seasonal changes, times of day and geo-
graphical features to be used to their optimal
benefit. Super grids could be used to transport
enormous quantities of solar energy from
Northern Africa to Europe, as described in the
Desertec project. “Electricity will draw the world
together,” predicts Weinhold.
In addition to new electricity highways, to-
morrow’s grid will need more buffers to stop it
from bursting at the seams. Intermediate stor-
age is needed for the excess power fed into
the grid by fluctuating energy sources. Tradi-
tionally, this has relied on pumped storage
power plants, but there is hardly any capacity
for further expansion in Central Europe. As a
result, wind farms will either have to be shut
down to prevent them from overloading the
grid during periods of overproduction or pro-
ducers will have to pay someone to take the
Cars as Buffers. One future solution could be
electric cars, which temporarily store excess
energy and later return it to the grid when
needed — at a higher price. For example,
200,000 electric cars connected to the grid
could make eight gigawatts of power available
quickly. That would be more than is currently
required in Germany. As part of the EDISON
project, in which Siemens is also participating,
testing will begin on the electric cars concept
and other solutions in Denmark in 2011. It is abundantly clear to Weinhold that we
are moving full speed ahead into a new era.
“Just yesterday the big issue was oil, but cli-
mate change is moving things in a different di-
rection,” he says. Weinhold believes that we
are currently on the threshold of a new electric
age. Electricity is increasingly becoming an all-
encompassing energy carrier. This is good for
the climate, because electricity can be gener-
ated ecologically and transmitted very effi-
ciently.Florian Martini
Call center
CRM etc.
systems (EMS)
System integrity
Solar power
systems (DMS)
Meter data
Substation automation and protection
HVDC and
Wind power
Distributed energy resources
Electric cars
automation and protection
Smart meters
and demand
Electric cars
Distribution grid
Transmission grid
Smart generation
Smart grid
The Smart Grid will Optimize Interconnections between Producers and Consumers 42 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
Tomorrow’s Power Grids
| Trends
inconsistently, could be connected to form a
virtual network. “This would allow them to
bundle their power and sell it in a marketplace
that is inaccessible to small suppliers,” says
Günther. The grid would benefit too. “Consoli-
dated into a virtual power plant and acting as
a flexible unit, small plants could make balanc-
ing power available and thus help to stabilize
the grid,” says Günther. Balancing power is
provided in addition to the base load to cover
peaks in demand. As this type of power re-
quires power plants that can begin producing
energy quickly, the price for a kWh of balanc-
ing power is much higher than for a kWh of
base load power. Base load power is generally
provided by the workhorses of power genera-
tion —coal-fired or nuclear power plants that
run around the clock.
Stability will be crucial to tomorrow’s grid.
But intelligent systems alone will not be
enough to manage the large amounts of en-
ergy provided by the growing numbers of wind
farms or solar-thermal power plants. “There is
also work to be done on the hardware side,”
says Weinhold. “We need to greatly expand the
number of power lines, as physics limits the
transmission of electrical energy to wires or
cables.” According to the German Energy Agency
(DENA) study, some 400 kilometers of high-
voltage grid needs to be reinforced and an ad-
ditional 850 kilometers of lines need to be
erected by 2015 simply to transmit the wind
energy that will be generated in Germany.
locally-produced energy marketplaces) proj-
ect, which is subsidized by the German federal
government, Risitschka is responsible for de-
veloping the information and communication
interface between smart meters, the system
for meter data management, and the elec-
tronic marketplace. “Among the things we are
investigating is how these digital links need to
be configured, i.e. what data should be trans-
mitted and how can we obtain useful informa-
tion from it,” she explains. The interfaces will
connect both private and commercial electric-
large cities in some developing nations, as
much as 50 percent of electricity disappears
this way, and power providers are often un-
aware of outages — at least until the first com-
plaint is received. With a view to heading off impending prob-
lems, in 2005 the European Union came up
with a concept, which it called the “smart grid”
— a vision of an intelligent, flexibly control-
lable electrical generation and distribution in-
frastructure. “The energy system plus informa-
tion and communications technology all enter
into a symbiosis in the smart grid,” says Wein-
hold. “Not only does this make the grid trans-
parent and thus observable, it also makes it
easier to monitor and control.”
Governments and companies are commit-
ting large amounts of money to ensure that
this vision becomes reality. The U.S. Depart-
ment of Energy, for instance, has provided
roughly $4 billion in subsidies for smart grid
projects in the U.S. German energy utilities are
planning to invest roughly €25 billion in smart
grid technology by 2020. Key components for
the power grid of the future are already avail-
able and have even been installed on a limited
basis in some countries. One example is smart
meters — intelligent, electronic electric me-
ters. “Smart metering is a key technology for the
smart grid,” says Eckardt Günther, who heads
the Smart Grid Competence Center at Siemens
Energy in Nuremberg, Germany. “With smart
metering, energy providers and consumers
can for the first time record in detail where
and how much electricity is being used and
fed into the grid.” The advantage is obvious: If
electricity consumption is precisely recorded,
“In the future, electricity highways will not just cross
borders but will link entire continents.”
flexible rates can be used to match consump-
tion to supply. This lowers electric bills and
emissions. In contrast, at present if more
electricity is being consumed than was fore-
cast, the production of electricity must be in-
creased. Shedding some light on the distribu-
tion grid isn’t the only advantage associated
with smart meters. “Smart meters heighten
energy use awareness and help to better con-
trol it,” adds Günther. “In addition, they are a
prerequisite for actively participating in elec-
tricity markets.”
Sebnem Rusitschka of Siemens Corporate
Technology is also convinced that tomorrow’s
grid will have to be smart. As part of the
E-DeMa (development and demonstration of
ity customers within model regions to an elec-
tronic marketplace and link them to energy
traders, distribution grid operators, and other
participants. The project is scheduled for com-
pletion in 2012. Rusitschka believes that proj-
ects like E-DeMa will boost the smart grid’s
prospects. “The technology is available and it
works,” she says. “The first larger-scale smart
grid solutions could become reality by 2015.”
Virtual Networks. Another component of
the smart grid is the “virtual power plant”.
Here, the idea is that small energy producers
such as cogeneration plants, wind, solar, hy-
dro or biomass plants, which have previously
fed their power into the grid individually and
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 45
China’s River of Power
How do you supply five million households with hydroelectric power from a distance of 1,400 kilometers? The answer is: with high-voltage direct-current transmission. Siemens is building the world’s most powerful such system in China. With the help of high-power transistors, rectifier
modules, and smoothing reactors, a new HVDCT line
is able to transmit 5,000 megawatts over the 1,400
kilometers from Lufeng to Guangzhou. Hydroelectric generation capacity on the Jinsha
River is being expanded. The resulting electricity will
be transmitted to major cities on China’s southeast-
ern coast by the world’s most powerful HVDCT line.
The high-voltage overhead lines coming
from the hills to the left of the fence are al-
ready carrying power, but the shiny new one
that crosses the fence to the right and disap-
pears over the mountain is still dead. It will go
into operation in 2010 as a bipolar line trans-
mitting power to Guangzhou in Guangdong
province, over 1,400 kilometers away. From
there it will supply five million households in
the megacities Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and
Hong Kong on China’s southeastern seaboard.
This will reduce the country’s annual emis-
sions of CO
by some 33 million metric tons a
year, as the electricity comes from a dozen hy-
droelectric plants on the Jinsha (“Golden
Sand”) River, one of the headwaters of the
Yangtze, which provide carbon-free power.
The overhead lines arriving from the left of
the site are carrying conventional alternating
current (AC) that has been generated by hy-
droelectric plants, some of which are located
as far as several hundred kilometers away. The
1,400-kilometer transmission line to Guang z hou,
however, will carry direct current. High-volt-
age direct-current transmission (HVDCT) is not
a new invention; as long ago as 1882, a trans-
mission line of this type carried electricity from
Miesbach in Bavaria to an electricity exhibition
in Munich, 57 kilometers away. That, however,
is where the similarities end. Back then the
vol tage was a mere 1,400 volts; in China, the
line will transmit at a record 800,000 volts.
“The HVDCT line in China is the ultimate exam-
ple of this technology. It will carry 5,000
t takes a jarring ninety-minute ride to cover
the distance from the city of Kunming in
southwestern China to Lufeng. Fie lds and herds
of water buffalo flash by the car window. Then,
at long last, deliverance comes. Our driver turns
in at a blue sign bearing lots of Chinese char-
acters and “800 kV” in Western script and lets
us out just beyond a rolling gate. In front of us
is a site measuring around 700 by 300 meters
that looks like something from another world.
Gigantic pylons dripping with cables soar into
the sky, while workers below toil with spades
and wooden wheelbarrows to finish the last of
the landscaping. The air is alive with a so no -
rous hum. “That’s from the testing,” explains
Jürgen Sawatzki, who is in charge of the instal-
lation of equipment from Siemens at the site. Tomorrow’s Power Grids
| HVDC Transmission
44 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
Plugging into HVDC’s Advantages
High-voltage direct-current transmission (HVDCT) is ideal for countries where power has to be trans-
ported over long distances. HVDCT becomes financially viable from around 1,000 megawatts and
600 kilometers upward. The 1,400-kilometer HVDCT line between the Chinese provinces of Yunnan
and Guangdong will transmit at 800,000 volts, a new world record. Compared to a 765 kV alternat-
ing-current (AC) line of the same length, which would require immense compensation for transmis-
sion losses, HVDCT will save around 36 percent in costs over a 30-year service life. In the case of undersea cables, the advantages of HVDCT come into play over distances as small as 60
kilometers. Over longer distances, AC lines act like huge capacitors that are charged and discharged
50 times a second, eventually losing virtually all their power. This effect can be compensated for by
the use of coils, but such measures are not economical for underwater cables. As of May 2011, for
example, a 250 kV HVDCT line from Siemens will connect the Balearic Islands with the Spanish main-
land, 250 kilometers away, and carry 400 megawatts of power. The forthcoming boom in offshore wind farms will provide a further boost for the HVDCT market.
HVDC PLUS is an innovative system from Siemens that features a new generation of power converter.
With its compact dimensions, it is designed to provide flexible and reliable transmission from off-
shore wind plants. HVDCT back-to-back links are a special instance of this technology. The principle is the same as the
one governing a normal HVDC transmission system, except that the transmission and receiving
stations are on the same site. Their purpose is to link different AC power networks with dissimilar
voltages and frequencies by converting alternating current into direct current and then back again. HVDCT is also increasingly being incorporated into synchronous three-phase AC networks, both for
long-distance transmission and to provide back-to-back links. This is because, as Prof. Dietmar Retz-
mann explains, HVDCT has the major advantage over AC transmission that it acts like a firewall, auto-
matically halting cascading failures within a network and thus greatly reducing the risk of a major
So-called gas-insulated lines (GILs), meanwhile, are ideal for transmitting high power in urban envi-
ronments, where space — the cheapest form of insulation — is usually at a premium. The lines are
laid underground in a 50-centimeter pipe filled with a low-pressure gaseous mixture of nitrogen and
sulfur hexafluoride. This gas insulates the conductor so well that a power of up to 3,500 megawatts
can be transmitted at 550 kilovolts. GILs require little maintenance and they do not deface the landscape. As a rule, they are used in ma-
jor cities, where it is impossible to build high-voltage overhead lines. In terms of construction costs
alone, GILs are between five and ten times more expensive than overhead lines. However, this extra
cost become smaller once the costs of land and maintenance for overhead lines are factored into the
equation. What’s more, GILs become even more attractive economically at higher transmission loads.
Another advantage of GILs is that the metal pipes that encase them block electromagnetic radiation.
This was an important consideration for the operators of the Palexpo congress center in Geneva,
where a Siemens-built GIL under the exhibition halls ensures that visitors and sensitive electronic
systems are shielded from radiation fields. commissioning in June 2010. In the first proj-
ect with China Southern Power Grid, Siemens
handled 80 percent of the total contract vol-
ume, in the second 60 percent, and in the
third 40 percent. In the fourth project this
share has fallen a bit further, coming in at
around €370 million out of the €1 billion that
the system is costing. China Southern Power
Grid has stipulated that most of the compo-
nents to be supplied by Siemens must be man-
ufactured in China by subcontractors. So
whereas Siemens is still responsible for the en-
gineering of the thyristors, for example, these
components and all the ancillary equipment
are being manufactured under Siemens super-
vision by two Chinese firms. Profiting from Innovation. It will not be
possible, however, to build future systems of
this kind without Siemens’ know-how, since
innovation is continuously advancing the state
of the art in this field. “There’s a lot of new
know-how in the 800 kV technology, which is
being used here for the first time,” explains Su-
sanne Vowinkel, who works at Siemens’ En-
ergy Sector as a commercial project manager
in the field of contracts, issuing invitations to
tender to suppliers, and customer relations. Innovations from Siemens include silicone-
covered insulators that repel water and pro-
vide better insulation when dirty. Meanwhile,
engineers are already looking beyond the 800
kV mark, as higher transmission voltages pro -
mise even lower line losses. The move from
500 kV to 800 kV has already reduced costs over
30 years by one quarter. The name of the game,
as Vowinkel points out, is to stay one step ahead.
Siemens has just landed a major contract in
India and tendered bids for further HVDCT
projects in China, India, the U.S., and New
Zealand. What’s more, HVDCT has already be-
come the cornerstone of major projects for the
future, such as Desertec, which will transmit
power from North Africa and the Middle East
to Europe.Bernd Müller
46 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
Tomorrow’s Power Grids
| HVDC Transmission
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 47
tage here is that one conductor is operated as
an 800 kV positive pole and the other as an
800 kV negative pole, thus giving a total of 1.6
million volts between them. In other words,
the power is divided between two conductors
in order to minimize transmission losses. At
the same time, this is a precaution in the event
that one pole should go down. A number of tests are scheduled for the
coming months. Eight Siemens engineers, ac-
commodated in an office above the valve hall,
sit in the control room, gradually ramping up
the voltage onscreen. This is designed to push
the components to their very limits and reveal
any weaknesses before the system enters serv-
ice. A blackout in one of China’s large coastal
cities would be a nightmare. The left half of a large control screen dis-
plays the operating load of the transmission
station in Lufeng as “0 megawatts.” The right
side of the screen shows the status of the re-
ceiving station in Guangzhou, where the di-
rect current will be converted back into alter-
nating current and fed into the public grid.
Here a default reading of “9.999 megawatts” is
displayed. Were the station in operation, the
screen would show a power of 5,000
megawatts as well as a raft of other data from
Guangzhou, all of which will be transferred in
real time via a fiber optic cable that is laid
along the HVDC transmission route. Know-how from East and West. Whereas the
AC part of the system was built entirely by Chi-
nese firms, the DC part contains a lot of Sie -
mens know-how. Yet that doesn’t mean that
all the components were made in Germany.
Half of the 48 transformers are of German pro-
duction, while the others were manufactured
in China under the supervision of Siemens. Sawatzki has been in China for ten years
now. The HVDCT system in Lufeng is his fourth
for network operator China Southern Power
Grid. All in all, the project will take three years,
from the award of contract in June 2007 to full
would still be significantly higher than with
HVDCT. Sawatzki leads us into a hall the size of an
aircraft hangar, where workers are installing a
power stabilization system onto long poles
suspended from the 20-meter-high ceiling — a
measure designed to minimize the chances of
a short circuit and associated electrical outage
even in the event of an earthquake. The de-
vices look like a stack of huge plant trays and
could well have been inspired by the leg-
endary Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Each tray
contains a total of 30 shiny golden cans that
are carefully connected in series and wired to
control circuits with fiber optic cables. Inside the tins are thyristors — converter
valves made of silicon, molybdenum, and cop-
per — which are activated optically by means
megawatts; that’s the output of five large
power plants,” explains Prof. Dietmar Retz-
mann, one of Siemens’ top experts on HVDCT.
Low Losses. Regardless of whether pow er is
trans mitted as an alternating or a direct cur-
rent, the goal is to ramp up the voltage as
much as possible. For both types of transmis-
sion, physics dictates that for a fixed amount
of power, the current is inversely proportional
to the voltage. In other words, the higher the
voltage, the lower the current, thus reducing
the energy losses that result from the conduc-
tor heating up. When transmitting over long
distances, however, HVDCT is superior. “With our power highway in China, as
much as 95 percent of the power reaches the
consumer,” says Wolfgang Dehen, CEO of
With HVDC, 95 percent of the power is transmitted; with
AC, 87 percent — the equivalent of 400 megawatts less.
Siemens Energy. With AC transmission lines,
this falls to 87 percent, which in this case
would amount to a loss of 400 megawatts —
the output of a mid-sized power plant or 160
wind generators. As a result of these reduced
losses, the HVDCT link will cut emissions by a
further three million metric tons of CO
a year. In theory, it would be possible to build AC
transmission lines over similar distances. A
voltage of 800 kV will transmit an alternating
current over a distance of 1,500 kilometers.
The problem is, however, that over long dis-
tances the voltage waves at the beginning and
the end of the transmission line are shifted rel-
ative to one another — the technical phrase
here is “phase angle” — and this necessitates
the installation of large banks of capacitors
every few hundred kilometers for the purposes
of series compensation. This drives up the
price of such installations. And in spite of such
compensation, the losses over long distances
of a laser beam 50 times a second, exactly in
phase with the current as it switches polarity.
This occurs so precisely — to within a millionth
of a second — that the negative waves of the
alternating current are “flipped” so as to create
a direct current. Because this current still has a
high ripple content, it next goes to the so-
called “DC yard” right behind the valve hall.
There, capacitors temporarily store charge,
which they “inject” into the ripples, and coils
filter out interference signals emanating from
the rectifiers in the hall. All this is standard cir-
cuitry, as found in any mains-operated electri-
cal appliance, but the dimensions are gigantic
here in the DC yard. Bipolar Transmission. In another hall right
next to the first one, the screed floor is being
poured. Sawatzki draws a circuit diagram on a
piece of cardboard and explains: “The rectifiers
and the DC yard are in duplicate.” The advan-
Giant 800 kV transformers were tested in Nuremberg (left) before being shipped to China for installation (center). The control room of the transmission station in Lufeng (right).
A gate at the Guangzhou receiving station alerts visitors to its world-record transmission voltage. Hydropower and HVDCT are cutting China’s CO
emissions by 33 million metric tons a year.
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 49
Trapping the Wind
Power produced from renewable sources such as wind and sunlight is irregular. Experts are therefore looking at ways of storing surplus energy so that it can be converted back into electricity when required. One option is underground hydrogen storage, which is inexpensive, highly efficient, and can feed power into the grid quickly.
Pumped-storage power plants are used to stockpile surplus power (here an 80 MW plant in
Wendefurth, Germany). Underground storage systems (below) could also be a solution.
he wind blows when and where it will, and
it rarely heeds our wishes. These days, that
can have a serious impact on our power sup-
ply, to which wind energy is now making an
increasingly important contribution. In 2007,
wind power accounted for 6.4 percent or 39.7
terawatt-hours (TWh) of gross power con-
sumption in Germany, and this proportion, ac-
cording to a projection by the German Renew-
able Energy Federation (BEE), could rise to as
much as 25 percent (149 TWh) by the year
2020. By then, Germany should have wind
farms with a total output of 55 gigawatts
(GW), compared to 22 GW at the end of 2007. Germany already accounts for approxi-
mately 20 percent of the world’s total wind
power generating capacity. Until recently, it
was the pacesetter, but has now been pushed
into second place in this particular world rank-
ing by the U.S. Although this is all excellent
news as far as the climate is concerned, it pres-
ents the power companies with a problem.
Wind power isn’t always generated exactly
when consumers need it. As a rule, wind gen-
erators produce more power at night, and
that’s exactly when demand bottoms out. With
conventional power plants, output can be ad-
justed in line with consumption, merely by
burning more or less fuel. With fluctuating
sources of energy, however, this is only possi-
ble to a limited degree. The ideal solution is to cache the surplus
electricity and feed it back into the grid as re-
quired. The power network itself is unable to
assume this function, since it is a finely bal-
anced system in which supply and demand
have to be carefully matched. If not, the fre-
quency at which alternating current is trans-
mitted deviates from the stipulated 50 hertz,
falling in the case of excess demand, or rising
in the case of oversupply. Both scenarios must be avoided, as there
Source: KBB Underground Technologies GmbH
48 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
Tomorrow’s Power Grids
| Energy Storage
would otherwise be a danger of damage to
connected devices such as motors, electrical
appliances, computers and generators. For
this reason, power plants are immediately
taken offline whenever an overload pushes
the grid frequency below 47.5 hertz.
Oversupply can likewise pose problems.
Germany’s Renewable Energy Act stipulates
that German network operators must give
preference to power from renewable sources.
But an abundance of wind power means that
conventional power plants have to be ramped
down. This applies particularly to gas- and
coal-fired plants, which are responsible for
providing the intermediate load — in other
words, for buffering periodic fluctuations in
demand. For the power plants assigned to pro-
Germany’s largest pumped-storage power
plant is in Goldisthal, about 350 km southwest
of Berlin. The facility has an output of 1,060
megawatts (MW) and could supply the entire
state of Thuringia with power for eight hours.
In all, 33 pumped-storage facilities operate in
Germany, providing a combined output of
6,700 MW and a capacity of 40 gigawatt-hours
(GWh). Each year, they supply around 7,500
GWh of so-called balancing power, which cov-
ers heightened demand at peak times — in
the evenings, for example, when people swi tch
on electric appliances and lights. The energy
held in reserve by pumped-storage power plants
can be called up within a matter of minutes.
In Germany, however, simply increasing the
number of pumped-storage power plants isn’t
Batteries and Compressed Air. Other major
industrialized countries such as the U.S. and
China also make significant use of pumped-
storage power plants. In addition, major ef-
forts are being made to find alternative meth-
ods worldwide. The best-known of all elec tricity
storage devices is the rechargeable battery,
which can be found in every mobile phone. Al-
though the amounts of energy involved here
are tiny by comparison, this has not stopped
some countries from using batteries as a cache
facility for the power network. “In Japan, for
example, this method is used practically
throughout the country,” says Dr. Manfred
Waidhas from Siemens Corporate Technology
(CT). “Batteries the size of a shipping container
can store about 5 MWh of electrical energy
and are installed in the grid close to the con-
sumer.” They are used as an emergency power
supply, as a reserve at times of peak load, and
as a buffer to balance out fluctuations from re-
Electric vehicles could serve as mobile and readily-
available storage devices for electricity.
vide the base load — primarily nuclear power
and lignite-fired plants — ramping up and
down is relatively complicated and costly.
On windy days, this can have bizarre conse-
quences. For example, it may be necessary to
sell surplus power at a giveaway price on the
European Energy Exchange in Leipzig. In fact,
the price of electricity may even fall below
zero. Such negative prices actually became a
reality on May 3, 2009, when a megawatt-
hour (MWh) was briefly traded at minus €152.
In other words, the operator of a conventional
power plant chose to pay someone to take the
power rather than to temporarily reduce output.
Storing Power with Water. By far the best
solution is to cache the surplus electricity and
then feed it back into the grid whenever the
wind drops or skies are cloudy. Here, a proven
method is to use pumped-storage power
plants. Whenever demand for electricity falls,
the surplus power is used to pump water up to
a reservoir. As soon as demand increases, the
water is allowed to flow back down to a lower
reservoir — generating electricity in the
process by means of water turbines. It’s a
beautifully simple and efficient idea. Indeed,
pumped-storage power plants have an effi-
ciency of around 80 percent, reflecting the
proportion of energy generated in relation to
the energy used in pumping the water to the
top reservoir. At present, no other type of stor-
age facility is capable of supplying power in
the GW range over a period of several hours. In
fact, more than 99 percent of the energy-stor-
age systems in use worldwide are pumped-
storage power plants.
such a simple option. There is a lack of suitable
locations, and such projects often trigger pro -
tests. As a result, Germany’s power plant oper-
ators coordinate their activities with their coun -
terparts in neighboring countries. Ener gie
Ba den-Württemberg (EnBW), for example,
uses pumped-storage facilities not only in Ger-
many, but also in the Vorarlberg region of Aus-
tria. Norway, too, which has a long history of
hydropower, is now looking to market its po-
tential for electricity storage. However, the cap-
ital expenditure for doing so would be substan-
tial. Such a project would involve more than
just laying a long cable to Norway. The grid ca-
pacity at the point of entry in both countries
would also have to be increased in order to
avoid bottlenecks in transmission capability.
“This would be necessary because elec tricity al-
ways looks for the path of least resistance and
will take another route when it en coun ters an
obstruction,” explains Dirk Ommeln from EnBW.
newable sources of energy. Sodium-sulfur bat-
teries, which have an efficiency of as much as
70 to 80 percent, are used for this purpose.
Similarly, in a method known as V2G (vehi-
cle to grid), electric vehicles could also serve
as local cache facilities for electricity in the fu-
ture, provided they are connected to the grid
via a power cable. Although their battery
capacity is small in comparison with the
amounts of energy required in the grid, the
sheer number of such vehicles and the rela-
tively high powers involved — e.g. 40 kilowatts
(kW) per vehicle — could make up for this. “As
few as 200,000 vehicles connected to the grid
would produce 8 GW. And that’s enough bal-
ancing energy to improve grid stability,” says
Prof. Gernot Spiegelberg from Siemens CT.
“On the other hand, we need to remember
that such batteries will be relatively expensive
due to their compactness, safety specifications,
and low weight,” warns Dr. Christian Dötsch
Comparative Energy Stored per Unit of Volume
Pumped-storage power plant
Compressed air energy storage
Lead-acid battery
NaS battery
Lithium-ion battery
Hydrogen storage
Height difference: 100 meters
pressure: 2 MPa (= 20 bars)
pressure: 20 MPa, efficiency 58%
0 100 200 300 400
from the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental,
Safety and Energy Technology in Oberhau sen,
Germany. “What’s more, the number of times
they can be recharged is still very limited. At
present, the extra re char ging and discharging
for the purposes of load balancing would seri-
ously reduce battery life,” says Dötsch. (For
more, see page 60.)
Another concept is to warehouse potential
kinetic energy underground by a technique
known as compressed air energy storage
(CAES). This involves pumping air, which has
been pressurized to as much as 100 bar, into
underground cavities such as exhausted salt
domes with a volume of between 100,000
and a million cubic meters. “This compressed
air can be used in a gas turbine,” says Waidhas.
“You still need a fossil fuel such as natural gas,
but energy is saved because the compressed
air for combustion is already available.”
There are two CAES pilot projects world-
wide: the first went into operation in Huntorf,
Germany, in 1978; the second in McIntosh, Al-
abama, in 1991. The basic idea behind CAES is
simple, but there are drawbacks. “In both proj-
ects, the gas turbines are custom made, and
that kind of special development costs
money,” says Waidhas. “CAES only gives you
storage capacity of around 3 GWh.”
Hydrogen: Ideal Storage Medium? An inte -
res ting alternative to the methods already
mentioned is hydrogen storage. Here, surplus
electricity is used to produce hydrogen by
means of electrolysis. The gas is then stored in
underground caverns at a pressure of between
100 and 350 bar, where, according to Erik
Wolf from Siemens Energy Sector in Erlangen,
Germany, leakage is not a problem. “Typically,
each year, less than 0.01 percent is lost,“ he
says. “This is because the rock-salt walls of
such caverns behave like a liquid, and any
leaks seal up automatically.” For this reason,
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 51
says Wolf, any of the caverns already used for
the short-term storage of natural gas would
also be suitable for hydrogen.
Around 60 caverns are now under con-
struction in Germany. “If we were to use only
30 of these for hydrogen storage, we would be
able to cache around 4,200 GWh of electrical
energy,” Wolf points out. Hydrogen has such a
high energy density that as much as 350 kilo-
watt-hours (kWh) can be squeezed into every
cubic meter of available storage space. This
significantly exceeds CAES (2.7 kWh/m
) and is
matched only by lithium-ion batteries.
With hydrogen storage, whenever demand
for electricity rises, hydrogen is used to power
a gas turbine or a fuel cell. “At present, under-
ground hydrogen storage is unmatched by any
other energy-storage system,” says Wolf. “Each
cavern is capable of providing more than 500
MW for up to a week in base-load operation –
the equivalent of 140 GWh. By way of compar-
ison, all the pumped-storage power plants in
Germany have a combined capacity of only 40
GWh.” What’s more, underground hydrogen
storage facilities can supply power quickly and
are as flexible as a combined-cycle power
plant. Hydrogen has other advantages: Apart
from storing energy for generating power or
heat, it can also be mixed with syngas — from,
for example, biomass plants — to produce fuel
in a biomass-to-liquid process. That’s what’s
happening in the context of a pilot project in
Brandenburg, Germany. In April 2009 Enertr ag
laid the foundation stone for a new test facility
in Prenzlau. This will be the world’s first hydro-
gen-wind-biogas hybrid power plant capable
of producing hydrogen from surplus wind
power. The hydrogen will be used to power hy-
drogen vehicles or will be mixed with biogas to
produce electricity and heat in two block-type
cogeneration plants with a total output of 700
kW. The facility is scheduled to enter service in
mid-2010.Christian Buck
50 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
Tomorrow’s Power Grids | Energy Storage | Interview Arvizu
In the future, electric vehicles could provide temporary storage of electricity, which could be fed back into
the grid as required, thereby improving the network’s stability.
Dr. Dan Arvizu, 59, is a
physicist and the director
of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Re-
newable Energy Laboratory
(NREL) in Golden, Colorado.
An expert on photovoltaic
and battery technology, he worked for inter-
national engineering and infrastructure company
CH2M Hill, as well as the
Sandia National Laboratories
in New Mexico before his appointment as head of
the NREL in 2005. One of
his main objectives is to
push the development of
energy efficiency and alternative energy sources.
Interview conducted in Fall, 2009. Smart Grids:Jump Starting Use of Renewable Energy Resources
Smart grids are a hot topic in the U.S. What’s your vision of this area? Arvizu:
Of course no one knows for sure what
a smart grid will look like, but I would expect it
to be flexible, interactive, less vulnerable than
present systems, information-rich, and just plain
more sophisticated. Today, electricity mainly
comes from a network of big cables that have
central power stations at various intersections.
It provides a base load, on top of which vary-
ing demand is met. The future of the electric
grid looks different, though. The grid will prob-
ably not be centralized any longer. It will meet
real time needs better, and it will transport en-
ergy more efficiently than the present-day grid.
projects. One exciting example is in Boulder,
Colorado and is called “Smart Grid City.” We are
involved in this project. One important element
is the installation by Xcel Energy, the sponsor-
ing utility, of a broadband interconnection infra -
structure that allows information to flow both
ways between the consumer and the electricity
utility. Forty-five thousand two-way meters are
being installed. Additionally, a limited number
of households will be able to see online how
they consume electricity throughout the house.
And in one test, some homes will have Web-
addressable appliances that allow their power
use information to be transmitted to the Inter-
net, where the total energy use in one’s house
Can you flesh this out a bit? Arvizu:
Today more than 60 percent of the
energy content in our supply gets lost in in-
efficient conversion to electricity at the power
plant or on its way to the consumer. Clearly,
this has to be done much more efficiently —
for example, transmission efficiency can be improved over long distances by using a high-
voltage direct-current transmission system.
The grid of the future will also be able to inte-
grate much more energy produced by solar,
wind, and other renewable energy sources.
And since these sources will be more widely
distributed throughout the country, energy
will have to be bundled and distributed more
intelligently and the grid will need to accom-
modate varying generation coupled with vary-
ing loads. Finally, tomorrow’s grid needs to be
protected from physical and cyber attacks.
What advantages does the smart grid of-
fer for consumers and energy producers?
Mostly it gives you one thing — the
opportunity to make wise decisions about your
energy use and ultimately save energy and
save money! The smart network will allow consumers to monitor their electricity use,
make choices about appliances and their use,
and manage their overall energy needs based
on this information. This will also allow energy
providers to know how much energy their costumers actually use. That in turn may help
them develop more accurate predictions of energy demand and meet it accordingly.
How far has the smart grid advanced so far?
Worldwide, there are a number of pilot
could be calculated. This opens up the prospect
of eventually doing away with the physical me-
ter and measuring use only on the Internet.
How does the U.S. compare with other coun-
tries regarding smart grid implementation?
When it comes to deployment of renewable energy technologies, the U.S. lags behind other industrial countries. Other coun-
tries have been driven primarily by heavy gov-
ernment subsidies for solar and wind energy.
That’s what Germany has done. This has
forced some countries, such as Denmark and
Germany, to successfully deal with some of the
interconnection challenges that renewable en-
ergy sources represent. Still, when it comes to
the smart grid, we have an even playing field;
everybody is facing the same challenges.
You often point out that energy in the U.S. has to become cheaper. Today safety
regulations, labor costs, and commodity
prices keep energy prices high. Alternative
energy in the U.S. continues to be more expensive than conventional energy.
That has to change. When we speak of
alternative energy, we mean wind, solar, hydro-
power, etc. These sources have to become the
rule, not the exception. And they have to survive
economically on their own, without any subsi-
dies. I believe this can be achieved through tech -
nological innovation and market incentives such
as emissions trading for CO
. We also have to
price the externalities of fuel extraction, conver-
sion, use, and emissions — e.g. environmental
damage — into the prices consumers pay so that
fuel sources can be compared on the same basis.
What challenges will the massive integra-
tion of solar and wind power plants into
the modern power grid cause?
The main problem is that wind and solar
power are in variable, rather than constant, sup-
ply. Additionally, these plants are often far from
urban centers. So one thing that we have to do is
to intelligently interweave various energy sources
that produce the equivalent of a base load, which
today is still being met by coal and nuclear power
plants. Also, we should learn to use power when
it is available. For example, we could use electric
cars, refrigerators, hot water boilers and indus-
trial machinery in a way that takes advantage of
a cheap surplus of energy when it is available.
How could electricity be stored?
Batteries will gain more prominence in
the future to meet fluctuating energy production
and demand. Battery-powered cars could make
excellent storage devices. One could envision a
scenario where one charges one’s car during the
night when energy is cheap and uses it or feeds
it back into the grid during the day. Hydropower
is certainly the most straightforward storage
solution, but that is not an option everywhere.
In one of its studies NREL claimed that on
federal lands enough resources are avail-
able from renewable sources to meet all
U.S. consumption needs. That ‘s impressive
— but it’s not a serious proposal, is it?
Well, one can talk of various potentials.
Theoretical potential is what could be achieved
with alternative energy resources if finances,
politics, and technology were not an issue.
These are limitations to the potential that realis-
tically can be achieved. In one study we made
some realistic assumptions and asked if it’s fea-
sible to produce 20 percent of electricity in the
U.S. from wind by 2030. Our conclusion is that
this is not a crazy idea. The necessary technol-
ogy already exists. The current remaining hur-
dles are politics, financing and transmission.
Some companies recently announced they
intend to build giant solar energy plants in
Africa to transmit electricity to Europe. Is
something like this conceivable for the U.S.?
Sure. In the Southwest there’s plenty
of sun and the desert is huge. At this scale and
with appropriate transmission, solar energy be-
comes profitable. Interview: Hubertus Breuer
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 53
Plugging Buildings into the Big Picture
Around 40 percent of the energy consumed worldwide
is used in buildings to provide heating and lighting. But
in the future, intelligent building management systems
will ease the load on power and heat networks — and
even feed selfgenerated electricity into the grid.
In the future, buildings will actively
participate in the grid. In Masdar City (small pictures) narrow spaces between and under buildings will enhance cooling.
involved in the project. “The Masdar initiative
is not only a fascinating project; it also fits in
very well with our energy efficiency program
and the solutions offered by our Environmen-
tal Portfolio,” says Tom Ruyten, who manages
Siemens’ activities in Dubai.
Masdar is, of course, unique. After all, how
often do you have the opportunity to build a
complete city with a focus on minimizing its
environmental footprint right from the start?
However, intelligent building management
technology is in demand everywhere. In indus-
he environmentally-friendly city of the fu-
ture is being built in a desert in the United
Arab Emirates. Not far from Abu Dhabi, work-
ers from all over the world are building Masdar
City. When complete, the city is expected to
have 50,000 inhabitants, meet its energy
requirements entirely from renewable sources,
and produce zero carbon dioxide, a major
greenhouse gas (Pictures of the Future, Fall
2008, p. 76). Power is to be generated prima-
rily by solar-thermal power plants and photo-
voltaic facilities.
City planners expect improved efficiency to
offset the high cost of implementing ad-
vanced energy solutions. In fact, the energy
required per Masdar resident is projected to be
only one fifth of today’s consumption.
This goal can be achieved if forward-look-
ing planning and modern technology comple-
ment each other. In line with this philosophy,
buildings in Masdar will be built close to-
gether, thereby providing each other with
shade and thus reducing air conditioning re-
quirements. In addition, buildings will be built
on concrete pedestals, thus helping to main-
tain cool temperatures by allowing air to circu-
Tomorrow’s Power Grids
| Networking
52 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
to spread energy consumption. In fact, experts
predict a savings potential of up to 20 percent. Small cogeneration plants in buildings
could also be better integrated into power net-
works in the future. “If electricity demand is
high, a cogeneration plant will deliver energy
to the network, while the waste heat will be
fed into a local heat storage system or into the
thermal capacity of the building,” predicts
Christoff Wittwer from the Fraunhofer Institute
for Solar Energy Systems in Freiburg, Germany.
“This heat can be used later by residents.” Well-insulated water tanks capable of act-
ing as heat stores are already available. In
contrast, heat storage based on phase change
is still at the R&D stage. Here, for example,
surplus heat is used to melt a salt. Later, when
demand for heat increases, the melted salt
releases its stored heat and solidifies. Yield is
very high: “These types of cogeneration plant
have an overall efficiency of over 90 percent,”
says Wittwer. “In terms of primary energy,
that’s much more productive than large-scale
fossil fuel power plants that don’t exploit
waste heat.”
Managing Demand. Conversely, consumers
can also selectively switch off devices at peak
times to ease network loads. The key is to
know when rates are lower. For example,
washing machines and driers can be run at
night when electricity is cheaper. But which
hours offer the best prices? “Many appliances
are already capable of determining this
through signals in power lines,” says Dragon.
“On and off times can be determined by a
smart meter.” This scenario would give utilities the advan-
tage of being able to manage demand within
their networks. It would also help them to pre-
vent sudden peak loads from occurring — for
example, when large numbers of consumers
turn on appliances at the same time. However, consumers would have to con-
sent to having their appliances turned on or
off by a utility depending on the network’s
load — based on the premise that they would
be paying less for their power. Ultimately, both
parties have an interest in a flat load curve,
which is achieved by leveling demand over
each 24-hour period. The challenge is to coor-
dinate each building’s sub-systems with one
another and control their communication with
their surroundings. In other words, all isolated
solutions should be combined. “That is not a trivial matter because these
systems have developed independently over
many years,” says Dragon. “We therefore need
interfaces that allow control systems to com-
municate with one another.” Software solutions that address this chal-
lenge are being developed by Siemens Build-
ing Technologies under the name “Total Build-
ing Solutions” (TBS). Here, a variety of systems
are being linked into one unit. They include
building control and security technologies,
heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refriger-
ation, room automation, power distribution,
fire and burglary protection, access control,
and video surveillance. “Only if all of these systems harmonize per-
fectly can their economic potential be fully re-
alized,” says Dragon. “Whether in a stadium,
an office complex, a hospital, a hotel, an in-
dustrial complex or a shopping mall — TBS will
ensure that the facility is working productively,
users are being reliably protected, and energy
is being used optimally.”
Large Savings Potential. The amount of en-
ergy that can be saved through the intelligent
networking of power utilities and consumers
varies from case to case. However, experts gen-
erally agree that savings of 20 to 25 percent
are realistic. “This figure fluctuates depending
on the type of building,” says Dragon. “Shop-
ping malls often have a savings potential of up
to 50 percent, while office buildings have be-
tween 20 and 30 percent. For hospitals, we’re
talking about five to ten percent.” These differ-
ences depend on how buildings are used. For
instance, in Europe many shopping malls are
open ten to 12 hours a day and closed on Sun-
day. But a hospital operates around the clock.
“That’s why hospitals don’t have much scope
for saving large amounts of energy. The heat-
ing can be turned off in an office building but
not in a hospital,” says Dragon.
Advanced technologies not only save en-
ergy in hot and temperate zones; they can also
do so in icy areas. Take the new Monte-Rosa
Hut of the Swiss Alpine Club, for instance,
which is perched at an altitude of 2,883 me-
ters. It will be largely self-sufficient — thanks
to sophisticated building technology and com-
ponents supplied by Siemens (see p. 114).
Power will be supplied by a photovoltaic system,
supported when necessary by a cogeneration
unit. In order to maximize efficiency, the build-
ing’s control system will use weather forecasts
and information on guest bookings, thus help-
ing it to coordinate its power and heating sys-
tems as well as energy storage and applicate
power demand. A smart algorithm will period-
ically calculate the best end temperature, so
that the desired room climate can be realized
with the least resources — thereby ensuring
that not even the smallest amount of energy is
wasted.Christian Buck
energy consumption, but will also be able to
communicate with household appliances and
utilities. Starting in 2010, a European Union
directive and legal regulations in Germany will
require all new and modernized buildings to
be equipped with smart meters. Customers
will have better insight into their electricity
costs, while utilities will be able to more accu-
rately predict demand, and thus offer new
products, including dynamic rates, which can
change every 15 minutes. Entire grids will benefit as it will be easier
trialized countries, for example, buildings are
being transformed from mere energy con-
sumers to active participants in the electricity
market, where they offer self-generated power
for sale. “More and more buildings have photo-
voltaic or small wind power plants on their
roofs,” says Volker Dragon, who works in the
area of energy efficiency at Siemens’ Building
Technologies Division in Zug, Switzerland. “In-
telligent electric meters — the smart meter —
will usher in a lot of change in this area.”
These small boxes will not only measure
late beneath them. Today, 70 percent of the
energy consumed in Abu Dhabi is used to cool
buildings. Planned architectural measures are
expected to dramatically reduce that figure in
Masdar’s green, high-tech vision, which
was developed by British architect Sir Norman
Foster, is scheduled to be completed in 2016.
If it proves a success, urban developers and ar-
chitects from around the world may orientate
their plans according to the technologies that
prove themselves here. Naturally, Siemens is
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 55
Completely new business models based on smart
metering will arise in coming years.
month, instead of having to pay estimated
fees, as was the case in the past, and then re-
ceiving a huge bill at the end of the year. So
living in the dark about one’s own electricity
consumption will soon no longer be an issue,
at least not in Arbon. The benefits that smart energy meters offer
utility companies go far beyond improved grid
load planning. For one thing, the manual read-
ing of conventional meters is subject to errors
that generate additional costs, such as the
need for a second readings. These require dis-
proportionate amounts of time and energy in
comparison with standard reading trips. Smart
meters, on the other hand, are read automati-
cally. “On average, around three percent of the
readings of conventional meters are erroneous
and need to be repeated,” says Dr. Andreas
Heine, head of Services at Power Distribution.
“Smart meters reduce this error rate to nearly
zero. So, if you’ve got an area with a million
customers, you can save more than €1.6 million
placing its conventional meters with Siemens
AMIS units along with the complete meter
data management system. Ninety percent of
the company’s new meters communicate with
a central server that processes the huge
amounts of data, with most of this data trans-
fer occurring via power line communication —
in other words, the grid itself. “Smart metering is leading to the formation
of new business models", says Philip Skipper,
from Siemens Metering Services. "In many
now being supplied with electricity for the
very first time. A total of 150,000 villages in
India alone will be hooked up to the grid over
the next few years. As smart metering technol-
ogy will be used here from the start, integrat-
ing it into existing systems won’t be a prob-
More developed markets — like Brazil, for
example, where the vast majority of house-
holds already have electricity — will have to
modernize their systems to reduce electricity
per year, which corresponds to 53 percent of
the previous cost for readings.”
No More Flying Blind. Most smart meters
are now being used in highly developed coun-
tries, with dozens of projects currently under
way in the U.S. and Europe. Direct economic
benefits are generated in such nations mainly
through a decrease in blackouts and efficiency
gains in service processes. By installing around
30 million smart meters with feedback chan-
nels, Italian energy supplier ENEL, for example,
has been able to automatically carry out 210
million meter readings. The initial investment
of €2.1 billion can be amortized relatively
quickly through savings of around €500 mil-
lion per year, while service costs per customer
and year have been reduced from €80 to €50.
EnBW ODR, which supplies electricity to the
region east of Stuttgart, Germany, is now re-
types of cooperation models for smart meter-
ing systems by partnering with U.S.-based
eMeter, one of the world’s leading providers of
meter data processing services. Such partner-
ships require a high degree of flexibility, how-
ever, since the business logic behind smart
metering projects differs greatly from region
to region.
Time for Smart Meters. By 2030, global
electricity production is expected to increase
by 63 percent over its 2008 level to approxi-
mately 33,000 terawatt hours (TWh). Whereas
today’s poorer countries are expected to ex-
pand their annual production by around four
percent, electricity production in the most de-
veloped regions will grow by only about 1.3
percent per year. Completely new grid struc-
tures are now being set up throughout large
parts of India and China, and many regions are
European Union, for example, has an energy
efficiency and services directive that stipulates
that all conventional meters be replaced by
smart meters by 2020. Indeed, all new build-
ings built today have to have such meters. According to Knaak, smart meters represent
just a small component of a much larger proj-
ect: the smart grid. With this energy network, it
will be easier to incorporate renewable sources
of energy. In addition, electricity storage will
one day play a major role here and with im-
proved network load planning it will be possi-
ble to reduce the occurrence of the sort of ma-
jor blackouts that have caused havoc in Europe
and the U.S. over the last few years. “Without
smart meters, there would never be a smart
grid,” says Knaak. “Together with Siemens, we,
in our little town of Arbon, have laid part of
the foundation for this flexible network of the
future.” Andreas Kleinschmidt
cases the complexity and risk requires a new
approach and as a trusted and proven innova-
tor in this space Siemens is serving as the serv-
ice partner that drives the transformation of
the metering function.”
Siemens prepared itself well for such new
theft and increase supply reliability. Smart me-
ters will thus also be installed in many areas in
these markets. Finally, in many of the most de-
veloped countries, legislation enacted as part
of electricity market deregulation is leading to
the rapid introduction of smart meters. The
Transparent Network Power companies worldwide have begun installing electronic smart meters that allow customers to monitor consumption practically in real time and thus conserve energy. Such companies benefit from better grid load planning and lower costs.
Siemens offers complete solutions that include everything from hardware to software. Smart meters enable consumers to monitor and manage their power use. Utilities also save
money and, for the first time, gain detailed insight into network dynamics.
Having such data made available in some-
thing closer to real time would conserve re-
sources, as consumption could then be flexibly
adjusted, prices for consumers lowered or
raised in line with peak loads, and power gen-
eration capacity stepped down when less elec-
tricity is needed. Meters capable of such real-time data deliv-
ery were not available to the average con-
sumer until recently — but now, more and
more power suppliers are installing smart me-
ters that electronically measure electricity con-
sumption. Alexander Schenk, head of the
AMIS Business Segment at Siemens’ Power Dis-
tribution Division, explains. “Smart meters
don’t just substitute a digital display for me-
chanical cogs; they also automatically forward
consumption data to a control center and have
a feedback channel.” Among other things, this
enables suppliers to send price signals to cus-
tomers, who can then reduce consumption
during peak times in order to save money. One
smart meter now on the market is the AMIS
model from Siemens, some 100,000 of which
are scheduled to be installed in Upper Austria
by early 2010 (see Pictures of the Future,Fall
2008, p.63). Residents of Arbon, Switzerland,
on the shores of Lake Constance will also soon
be enjoying the benefits offered by the
Siemens meter.
“The near-real-time transmission of data
from households, special contract customers,
and the power distribution structure gives us
the kind of insight we need as to what’s going
on in the grid,” says Arbon Energie’s Knaak.
“This allows us as a supplier to make more pre-
cise forecasts of peak load times, and thus
plan more efficiently.” Arbon residents will be
among the first in Switzerland to know exactly
how much electricity they’re using every
hen asked about the electricity meters in
the Swiss municipality of Arbon, Jürgen
Knaak, head of the local power utility, Arbon
Energie AG, says, “It’s time to get out of the
dark!” What Knaak is referring to is the fact
that for a very long time nearly all electricity
customers and suppliers around the world
have suffered from a huge lack of information.
Consumers know nearly nothing about their
electricity consumption habits, while suppliers
know very little about the state of their grids
at any given — including such basic informa-
tion as whether loads in certain sections are
dangerously high, or whether the supply volt-
age has dropped dramatically in particular
areas. That’s because data from electricity me-
ters generally doesn’t become available until
months after power is actually consumed, and
such information only shows the sum of the
electricity used over a specific period of time. Tomorrow’s Power Grids
| Smart Meters
54 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 57
Power in Numbers
Small, distributed power plants and fluctuating energy sources such as wind and
sunlight have one thing in common. They increase the need for reliable and economical operation of electric power grids. The virtual power plant is an intelligent
solution. It networks multiple small power stations to form a large, smart power grid. Hydroelectric plants in Germany like those at
Ahausen and Niederense (below) have been in operation for decades. They are now enjoying new
significance as part of a virtual power plant.
Distributed Energy Management System software
shows the current status of all systems included in a
virtual power plant and generates an operating
schedule (right) for its power generation. This
schedule is controlled in the demand mode (left).
Tomorrow’s Power Grids
| Virtual Power Plants
56 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
he many hiking trails around the village of
Niederense in the state of Westphalia, Ger-
many, offer tranquility, bird songs, the Möhne
River and unspoiled nature. As idyllic as this
setting is, a small hydroelectric power station
built in 1913 does not look out of place here.
With an output of 215 kilowatts, the facility is
one of the region’s smaller power plants. Yet its
Siemens-Halske generators have been tirelessly
producing electricity for nearly 100 years. And
now these old-timers have become a key part of
a much larger, innovative high-tech plan. Since
October 2008 they have been interconnected
with eight other hydroelectric plants on the Lister
and Lenne Rivers in a rural part of Westphalia
known as Sauerland as part of ProViPP, the
Professional Virtual Power Plant pilot project of
RWE (a power plant operator) and Siemens.
Just about everybody stands to gain from
the project — power plant owners, electricity
some additional power plants,” says Martin
Kramer, RWE Project Manager for Distributed
Energy Systems.
Externally, the nine small hydroelectric
plants in the project function as a single large
one. Their total initial output for pilot opera-
tion was 8.6 megawatts. Even though this vir-
tual power plant is not yet actively participat-
ing in electric power trading, its constituent
plants have established a key prerequisite for
new forms of marketing. “Individually, such
plants are too small to market their capacities
through energy traders on the energy ex-
change, or as a balancing reserve for load fluc-
tuations to power grid operators,” says
Kramer. “To market electric power on the en-
ergy markets for minute reserves — the power
that must be available on demand within 15
minutes — a virtual power plant is required to
have a minimum capacity of 15 megawatts.”
bar graphs showing which power stations are
currently running at peak load or at base load
and how much power they are producing. Using plant status information, such as
electric power output, and combining it with
market forecasts, DEMS generates a forecast
that also takes into account the next day’s
prices and the total power available. Even
weather data is factored into the energy man-
agement system to provide a forecast of the
power available from sources with fluctuating
availability, such as wind and sunshine. Before a quotation is placed on the energy
market through an energy trader, it is checked
and approved by the portfolio manager. Once
As part of a virtual plant, even small energy producers
can sell their power on the electricity market. DEMS was developed by Siemens when it
became evident how the electric power grid and
the electric power market would be affected
by increasing supply from distributed and re-
newable energies (Pictures of the Future,Fall
2007, p. 90). In the background, communication
systems ensure reliable connections between
the control center and individual power plants.
Siemens communications devices in power
stations link the stations with the control cen-
ter via wireless communication modems. The
advantage of this approach is that it requires
no costly cables or rented landlines.
The virtual plant is highly distributed. Its
DEMS computer is in a control center in Plaidt
Today, since the nine-member virtual power
plant does not reach that level, it feeds its
energy into the grid in accordance with Ger-
many’s Renewable Energy Law (EEG). Follow-
ing a planned expansion, however, its power
will be sold directly in the energy market.
Cool Controls. At the heart of Sauerland’s vir-
tual power plant is Siemens’ Distributed Energy
Management System (DEMS). The system dis-
plays the present status of systems, generates
prognoses and quotations, and controls electric
power generation as scheduled. The system
overview is subdivided into producers and loads,
contracts, and power storage. Conveniently
positioned at the center of the display is the
“balance node” (the sum of the incoming and
outgoing power must equal zero). Additional
information is provided on “forecasting and us-
age planning” and “monitoring and control.”
As a result, a portfolio manager can view color
it has been approved and accepted by the mar-
ket, DEMS generates an operating schedule for
the individual power plants in the virtual plant.
The schedule specifies exactly when and how
much power must be available from which plant.
“DEMS does such a good job of modeling that
its schedules can be run exactly the way it de-
fines them,” says Dr. Thomas Werner, Product
Manager, Power System Management at Sie -
mens Energy. No manual corrections are needed. Martin Kramer of RWE agrees. “The system
is working extremely well. Once a schedule
has been generated, the energy management
system controls the entire process — including
the requirements of the individual power
plants — fully automatically.” near Koblenz, the operator stations are in
Cologne, and the power plants are in the
Sauerland. In spite of this complex mix, no
standards exist yet for distributed power plant
communications. “Uniform interfaces and pro-
tocols have yet to be defined,” says Werner,
who points out that each virtual plant there-
fore requires tailored solutions. “We need
open standards to substantially simplify the
design of virtual power plants,” he adds.
Lucrative Reserve Power. Existing business
models for virtual power plants already prom-
ise attractive profits. As a case in point, power
grid operators need to maintain a constant
balance in the power grid despite fluctuations
in consumption and electric power generation.
This is where the virtual power plant’s opera-
tor can sell reserve power and make a specific
capacity available as a minute reserve. When
needed, the purchaser places an order for the
traders, power grid operators, and of course
the end customer, who could profit from more
intense competition. The virtual power plant
concept complements the big utility compa-
nies with their large, central power plants by
creating new suppliers with small, distributed
power systems linked to form virtual pools
that can be operated from a central control
station. Such a pool can unite wind power, co-
generation, photovoltaic, small hydroelectric,
and biogas systems as well as large power con-
sumers such as aluminum smelters and large
process water pumps to function as a single
supplier. With the Sauerland project Siemens and
RWE plan to demonstrate the technological
and economic utility of virtual power plants
and to expand their knowledge base for fur-
ther applications. “The project — which will
continue until 2010 — and the technology are
working so well that we’re going to connect
tent and often unavailable when they’re needed most. A
study performed by Ludwig-Bölkow-Systemtechnik GmbH
using data from the E.ON electric grid showed that there
are also days (March 17 and 18 in the graphic below)
when the available wind power exceeds grid demand.
With continued massive expansion of the number of wind
power plants, this situation will be exacerbated and be-
come more frequent in the future, even as the supply of
wind power continues to be well below demand on wind-
less days.
here is a two-pronged solution to this problem. On
the one hand, energy storage (see p. 48) — whether in
the form of pumped storage power plants, compressed
air storage, hydrogen caverns, or even the batteries of
electric cars (see p. 60) — could be expanded. On the
other hand, electric grids could be more comprehensively
linked — across regions, national borders, or even conti-
nents. The expansion of power grids is already unavoid-
able because offshore wind farms (see p. 20) and solar
thermal power plants in the desert will have to be con-
nected. Siemens is among the companies currently in-
volved in the erection of a high-capacity, high-voltage di-
rect current transmission lines (HVDC) in China to link
hydroelectric plants in the country’s interior with mega -
cities more than 1,400 kilometers away on the coast (see
p. 44). The State Grid Corporation, a grid operator in
China, expects $44 billion will be invested in HVDC tech-
nology by 2012. According to the UCTE — the Union for the Coordina-
tion of Transmission of Electricity — some €300 billion
must be invested in new power and gas lines in Europe
over the next 25 years. “German utility companies alone
plan to invest €40 to €50 billion in the modernization of
the grids, with €15 to €25 billion of that going into smart
grid technology,” says Rolf Adam, a principal at Booz &
Company. Smart grids (see p. 40) involve not only intelligent
electric meters and solutions for flexible billing, but also
energy management, grid status monitoring, and the in-
tegration of a wide variety of small, decentralized power
generators and consumers. All of this is intended to make
power grids more transparent, more flexible and more
secure. Market experts at ABI Research expect that roughly
73 million smart meters will be installed worldwide in
2009. Two years ago, the equivalent figure was just 49
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 59
Growing Demand for Renewables
and Smart Grid Technologies
million. In the U.S. alone, the government hopes to have
a good 41 million intelligent meters installed as part of 15
projects by 2015. The U.S. Electric Power Research Insti-
tute (EPRI) estimates that the creation of a nationwide
smart grid over the next two decades will cost around
$165 billion.
Based on IEA and EPRI data, market analysts at Mor-
gan Stanley Research estimate that the worldwide market
volume for smart grid technologies will increase from
roughly $22 billion in 2010 to $115 billion in 2030. This
corresponds to an average annual growth rate of 8.8 per-
cent, making smart grid technologies one of the most
exciting growth markets of the decades ahead.
Sylvia Trage / ue Discrepancy: Wind Power and Grid Load
Output (MW)
Supply greatly exceeds demand
Vertical grid load
wind power
Actual wind power 2007
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 March 2007
Supply can’t meet demand
Smart Grid Technologies: Growth Market
Billions of dollars
Smart meters and their infrastructure
Demand management
Power transmission
and distribution
8.8% CAGR
Sources: Morgan Stanley Research, IEA, EPRI et al.
Source: Ludwig-Bölkow-Systemtechnik GmbH, E.ON grid February 2008
CAGR: compound annual
growth rate
How Renewables will Grow 2008-2030
Solar 2%
Biomass 47%
Wind 38%
Solar 29%
Biomass 14%
Others 1%
Wind 52%
Geothermal 13%
Geothermal 4%
Worldwide power generation (in TWh)
Renewables (without hydro)
in 2008: 581 TWh (3% of all
power generated)
Renewables (without hydro)
in 2030: 5,583 TWh (17%)
Nuclear power
2.3% p.a.
Sources: Siemens, IEA, World Wind Energy Report et al.
58 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
to the International Energy Agency (IEA)
and Siemens, by 2030, worldwide electricity genera-
tion will grow by 63 percent relative to 2008, to a total of
33,000 terawatt hours (TWh). An increasingly large pro-
portion of this power will be based on renewable energy
sources. The IEA and Siemens expect that the amount of
electricity generated from wind, solar energy, biomass,
and geothermal energy will increase nearly ten fold from
581 TWh to 5,583 TWh, with wind power driving much
of that growth. According to these projections, the
mount of wind-generated electricity fed into the grid will
increase around thirteen fold. Even more impressive is the growth in solar electric-
ity, which is expected to grow 140-fold, but from a much
lower level. If at least a portion of the Desertec project
(p. 14) is completed by 2030, much of this additional so-
lar electricity could be produced by solar thermal power
plants in the deserts of northern Africa and the Middle
East, in addition to photovoltaic systems. According to a
recent study by Clean Edge Inc., a market analysis com-
pany specialized in the clean technology sector, world-
wide sales for photovoltaic and wind energy systems and
biofuels will increase from roughly $116 billion in 2009 to
$325 billion in 2018. (Sales of solar thermal systems,
which Clean Edge did not take into consideration, must
also be added to this figure). Wind power will generate
some $140 billion by 2018. Despite this growth in renewable energies, roughly
54 percent of the electricity generated worldwide in 2030
will still come from fossil energy sources such as coal and
natural gas. In order to protect the climate and to reduce
greenhouse gases, it is crucial that the efficiency of the
associated power plants — in other words, the conversion
of the energy contained in the raw materials into electric-
ity — be increased. Technologies must also be found to
remove carbon dioxide — either before or after combus-
tion — so that it no longer enters the atmosphere. The
potential of the associated efficiency improvement meas-
ures is best illustrated by the following example: If all
existing power plants were upgraded to the highest effi-
ciencies technically feasible today, this improvement
alone would reduce annual CO
emissions by 2.5 billion
metric tons. That is roughly ten percent of all energy-
related CO
emissions worldwide or roughly three times
Germany’s CO
If renewable energies were used, the amount of CO
emitted during the generation of electricity would be
reduced to zero. But this comes at the cost of other prob-
lems. One such problem that should not be underesti-
mated is the fact that wind and solar power are inconsis-
| Facts and Forecasts
Tomorrow’s Power Grids
| Virtual Power Plants
agreed-on power for a fee. The seller then starts
up or shuts down generators as specified in
the contract within the agreed-on timeframe
to stabilize the net frequency at 50 or 60 hertz.
Prof. Christoph Weber of Duisburg-Essen
University estimates that an energy trader
with a virtual power plant can increase earn-
ings by several hundred thousand euros by
paying less to the power grid operator for
“compensation power.” Such payments are
due when less or more power is fed into the
grid than had been specified in the operating
schedule. To avoid this, the electric power pro-
ducer needs to adhere as closely as possible to
the agreed-on operating schedule — and
that’s the purpose of an energy management
system such as DEMS. An interesting alterna-
tive to generating additional power is for the
central control station to briefly shut down
large-scale consumers such as aluminum
smelters. Another useful alternative is to sell
electric power at the European Energy Ex-
change (EEX) in Leipzig, provided that the cost
of producing one megawatt hour is lower than
the current exchange price. There are other uses of virtual power plants,
as was shown in the case of a municipal power
plant in Germany’s Ruhr district. Augmenting
electric power lines to supply energy for a new
residential area would have required a large
capital investment. So instead of new lines,
the area’s electric power needs were met by in-
stalling distributed, gas-powered,mini block-
type cogeneration plants and interconnecting
them to form a virtual power plant that deliv-
ers electric power and heating. This made it
possible to postpone a huge investment for
several years. Virtual power plants could also be
“produced” from less obvious components, such
as by interconnecting the emergency power
generators in hospitals and factories with the
battery storage systems common in telephone
and Internet communications centers.
Virtual power plants also have a macroeco-
nomic advantage. “The benefit of a power station
network extends far beyond its present appli-
cations,” says Werner. At present consumption
rates, for example, global copper reserves will
be exhausted in 32 years (Pictures of the
Future, Fall 2008, p. 22). And if the infrastruc-
tures of countries such as India and China con-
sume as much copper as the industrial coun-
tries, shortages and price increases of this
scarce metal are likely to occur even sooner. But if newly-industrializing countries base
the expansion of their energy infrastructures
on intelligent power grids and virtual power
plants that generate electricity near where it
will be used, i.e. in a distributed system, fewer
power lines will have to be built to transport
electricity, and the limited copper reserves will
last longer.Harald Hassenmüller
Energy exchange
Weather service
Remote meter
Distributed loads
Distributed mini block-type cogeneration and photovoltaic systems Wind farm
PV system
Block-type cogeneration
power plant
power plant
Network management
Communications network
Fuel cell
Advanced IT is the Core Element of a Virtual Power Plant
Energy management system
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 61
From Wind to Wheels
Industrial companies and energy suppliers are working closely together to make the vision of electric mobility a reality. Along with automotive engineering, the focus here is on the interaction between vehicles, the power grid, and the technologies needed for storing and bidirectionally transmitting energy derived from renewable sources. Tomorrow’s electric vehicles will redefine mobility.
Not only will they recharge in only minutes at fast-
charge stations. They will also function as mobile
power storage units for the smart grid.
Tomorrow’s Power Grids
| Electromobility
60 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
270 kilowatts of power and a top speed of
250 kilometers per hour, also boasts high
torque and impressive acceleration right from
the start. Whereas a combustion engine needs
some time in order to fully develop its power,
an electric motor delivers its full performance
The Greenster is a pioneering vehicle that
demonstrates just how chic electromobility
can be. Still, because the model was devel-
oped in only three months, its individual com-
ponents were not all part of a new component
approach but instead represent a combination
of available standard components. “The suc-
cessor Greenster II model, which is already
being planned, will have optimally matched
components,” says Prof. Gernot Spiegelberg,
head of the Electromobility Team at Siemens
Corporate Technology (CT). Such components
include a fast-charge unit and precisely tuned
components for battery management, motor
control, and charging electronics. The new
Greenster II will be completed by the end of
2010. RWE, Siemens will soon be installing 40 charg-
ing stations at locations in Germany, with 20
stations planned for Berlin. In addition, RWE is
now staging a roadshow in Germany that fea-
tures the Greenster. Siemens is participating in
the tour, which also made a stop at the IAA In-
ternational Motor Show in September 2009 in
Frankfurt am Main.
Siemens is pursuing the development of
electromobility through a comprehensive ap-
proach involving not only automotive engineer-
Siemens covers all facets of electromobility — from
vehicle technology to power grid integration.
ings. After all, if 10,000 vehicles simultane-
ously tap the grid for 20 kW each, the resulting
required output will be 200 megawatts —
which is what a medium power plant produces.
Batteries on Wheels. The energy specialists
for “Inside Car” and “Outside Car” are currently
participating in Denmark’s EDISON project,
which stands for “Electric vehicles in a Distrib-
uted and Integrated market using Sustainable
energy and Open Networks.” EDISON, the
hen the west wind rises and the North
Sea begins to churn and send its heavy
breakers crashing against the dunes of Jutland,
thousands of windmills go into action on the
Danish coast. Today, 20 percent of Denmark’s
electricity is produced by wind power, making
it the world leader in this area, and this figure
is set to rise to 50 percent by 2025. Still, the
good feeling about so much renewable energy
is dampened by the fact that when the wind
blows too strongly, the wind-turbine rotors
generate more electricity than Denmark’s grid
can handle. Up until now, Danish power utili-
ties have had to send this surplus electricity to
neighboring countries — and pay for doing so. It is therefore not surprising that Denmark
is a pioneer in the development of storage
technologies to accommodate excess electric-
ity, with researchers focusing mainly on the
batteries used in electric vehicles. Current
plans call for one out of ten cars in Denmark to
run on electricity from wind power in ten
years. Although this goal may seem ambitious,
given that there are hardly any electric vehi-
cles on European roads today, Denmark is
moveing ahead rapidly with electric mobility
through a broad range of projects — and
Siemens is providing support as a develop-
ment partner in two areas: connecting vehi-
cles to the grid and automotive engineering.
Road to the Climate Summit. For example,
together with Ruf, a German company that
specializes in custom vehicles, Siemens will
present three electrically-powered Sport Utility
Vehicles (SUVs) at the UN’s World Climate
Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark,
in December 2009. These vehicles are based
on the Porsche Cayenne chassis and have an
integrated charging system with which they
can be charged from any power outlet that
provides 230–380 volts. A plug for this appli-
cation has already been standardized. Charg-
ing times will depend mainly on what type of
output the outlet offers. Developers expect to
see an initial charging power of around ten
kilowatts (kW), and up to 43 kW over the
medium term, which corresponds to a charg-
ing time of between 20 minutes and two
hours. Charging will take place via an electrical
connection under the fuel tank flap. In Spring 2009 at the Geneva Motor Show
in Switzerland, Ruf and Siemens presented a
Porsche 997 Targa-styled model that had been
converted into an electric car known as the
eRuf Greenster (see Pictures of the Future,
Spring 2009, p.96). This vehicle, which offers
Standardized Charging. The SUVs, for their
part, will be charged at the UN conference
with wind power and will be used in a shuttle
service between the conference center and
the airport. Each vehicle can accommodate
four passengers and their luggage. The con-
cept includes a “power pump” from Siemens
that communicates with the vehicle’s electron-
ics. This is one of the key challenges for elec-
tromobility — and not just in Denmark. After
all, drivers will want to recharge their electric
vehicles at any location — be it a garage, su-
permarket, or company parking lot. In a man-
ner similar to cell phone invoicing, the electric-
ity used will be billed by a provider. However,
for such a system to work, it will be necessary
to reliably identify the vehicle and exchange
data between its onboard electronics and the
charge pump. In a project with energy supplier
mobility,” he says. In addition to CT re-
searchers, that team includes specialists from
Siemens’ Energy and Industry Sectors, who are
needed because future electromobility will be
about more than just the vehicles themselves.
The idea is that as electric vehicles enter the
market, the power grid will have to be updated.
It will, for example, be necessary to install sys-
tems that can accommodate the total electricity
requirements of the individual vehicles in pub-
lic areas such as inner-city parking garages and
sports stadiums. Here, one distribution trans-
former complete with switchgear will be
needed for every 50 vehicles. This means sev-
eral dozen such transformers will have to be
linked via medium-voltage switchgear. Having
several thousand vehicles parked in one place
will require major facilities, and these will have
to be installed in basements or separate build-
Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea.
There, test vehicles will be charged with wind
power from the public grid. When demand in
the grid rises, parked cars will feed electricity
back into the network. The Danes are hoping
that a fleet of thousands of vehicles will be
able to offset fluctuations in the wind-power
supply. Instead of having separate electricity
storage units to buffer against the fluctua-
tions, the cars and their batteries will provide
additional storage capacity, which is why EDI-
SON will focus on achieving a bidirectional
flow of electricity from the grid into vehicles
and back. The results could be significant. If,
for instance, 200,000 vehicles, each rated at
40 kW, are connected to the grid, a total out-
put of eight gigawatts would be available at
short notice — more than Germany requires as
a cushion against consumption peaks. ing — as is the case with Greenster and the
SUVs — but also systems for connecting vehi-
cles to the power grid. Here, both the charging
process and communications are being ad-
dressed. Spiegelberg refers to these two areas as
“Inside Car” and “Outside Car.” “We’ve put to-
gether a team that covers all facets of electro-
world’s first and most extensive project of its
kind, will bring a pool of vehicles to power out-
lets and connect them to the fluctuating
power of the wind. The associated technology
for vehicles and the grid will be developed and
prepared for use over the next two years. Practical testing will begin in 2011 on the
62 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
Tomorrow’s Power Grids
| Electromobility
Contaminated Grid? One of Holthusen’s jobs
is to study how the grid will be affected when
millions of electric vehicles are plugged into it
and disconnected every day. He is therefore
carrying out his research at the RisØ research
campus, which has its own electricity grid.
“This enables us to monitor the effects of such
a situation on a small scale,” he explains. In this context, things become particularly
tricky if harmonics occur when batteries are
hooked up to the 50-hertz grid, as these can
resonate and unbalance the grid frequency.
Such disturbances, which are referred to
as “grid-quality contamination,” can lead to
failure of the entire network if large waves
form. There are no quick fixes for such a scenario
yet — but Holthusen is working on answers. In
his tests, he connects up to 15 batteries, each
of which weighs 300 kg and has an energy
content of 25 kWh. By comparison, a mid-
range vehicle requires around 18 kWh to travel
100 kilometers. Holthusen then uses software
to measure how the batteries affect the grid
and to cushion the results of connection.
300 kW so that batteries can be recharged in
six minutes. Electrics would then be on a par
with conventional vehicles. Lithium-ion batteries with such fast charg-
ing capability are expected to be ready for
market launch in the near future. However,
new battery technologies will have to be de-
veloped if a car is to be charged in as little as
three minutes (see p. 117). Siemens’ testing activities are not limited
to Denmark, of course. The company’s re-
searchers are also active in Germany, where,
they are working with Harz.EE.mobility in a
project designed to determine how distributed
wind, solar, and biogas power systems can be
better aligned with the grid. Three participating districts in Germany’s
Harz region are looking at how to incorporate
electric vehicles into such a system. In this
Where Motors Are Going. While the SUVs
are being readied for their assignment in
Copenhagen, Kuhn and his colleagues are
testing a new drive system for the Greenster II,
the younger brother of the model presented
last March. Greenster I was a concept car —
but Greenster II will be the world’s first
Porsche-based electric vehicle to be manufac-
tured in a small production series. The key component here is a double motor
for the rear axle. Whereas the Greenster I was
equipped with a rather large central motor, in
the Greenster II each rear wheel will be pro-
pelled by a small drive unit located relatively
close to the wheel. Usually, the output of a
motor is distributed across the wheels via a dif-
ferential, which isn’t an ideal arrangement for
fast cornering. The double-motor concept, however, uses
an electronic control system that ensures opti-
mal propulsion of the right and left wheels,
which are exposed to different loads in a
curve. It’s thanks to this phenomenon, which
experts refer to as torque vectoring, that a
driver can still handle a vehicle perfectly in ex-
treme situations. With a central motor concept, all the power
must be transferred via a bulky and heavy dif-
ferential, which adds weight to the vehicle.
With the double motor concept, however, a
small control unit is all that’s needed to send
commands by wire to the individual electric
motors. Kuhn and his colleagues are now
studying how well the electronic differential
works. “It’s not just in the ‘Outside Car’ area
that we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” says
Kuhn. “The electric drive system is also highly
complex in its own right.” If everything goes
well with “Inside Car,” the complete Greenster
II will be put on a test rig in 2010. It’s already clear to Spiegelberg what will
happen next. “The coming years will see the
development of electric vehicles whose four
In addition to Siemens, the EDISON consor-
tium includes the Technical University of Den-
mark (DTU) and its RisØ-DTU research center,
as well as Denmark’s Dong Energy and
Østkraft power utilities, the Eurisco research
and development center, and IBM. In the EDI-
SON project, various working groups are re-
sponsible for developing all the technologies
needed for electromobility. Here, Siemens is
mainly responsible for fast-charge and battery
replacement systems. “Siemens’ portfolio al-
ready contains many components that we are
now adapting and reprogramming,” says Sven
Holthusen, who is responsible for the EDISON
project at Siemens’ Energy Sector. Another major obstacle to electromobility
is the length of battery recharging times. With
this in mind, Holthusen and his colleagues are
working on a fast-charge function that oper-
ates with much higher voltages and currents
— initially with 400 volts and 63 amps.
Holthusen’s approach is considered to be real-
istic since many European households already
have a 400-volt connection in the basement or
other storage areas for electric ranges and
other devices. “We go a great deal further in our tests,
however, in order to determine what’s possi-
ble,” says Holthusen. More specifically, he
wants to raise charging power to as much as
connection, Siemens will deliver charging
posts, an energy management system for the
integration of electric cars into the smart grid,
and associated communication systems. In addition, researchers at Siemens CT labs
in Munich are analyzing electronic compo-
nents, particularly with regard to bidirectional
charging and discharging. Scientists at
Siemens Corporate Technology want to use
test rigs to simulate various load situations. “First we’re going to test individual drive
systems and then complete vehicles,” says
Karl-Josef Kuhn, who is responsible for
constructing bidirectional test rigs in Spiegel-
berg’s team. “Later on, we’ll connect the
vehicles to a simulation of the grid that will be
provided by the Energy Sector.” This will be
done to determine how smoothly a vehicle can
be connected to the grid infrastructure.
wheels will each be equipped with their own
small drive unit,” he says. These motors will re-
cover brake energy and eliminate the need for
a large central motor and the transmission and
axle shafts, thereby creating more space. Moreover, unlike axle shafts, electronic
components can be installed anywhere in the
vehicle and don’t necessarily have to be located
near the electric motors. This will offer design-
ers completely new possibilities for things like
side-mounted wheels that also hold the drive
units. In addition, vehicle entry and exiting
could be facilitated in large multi-passenger
vehicles by removing the center console and
installing active fold-out seats. In general, vehicle interiors could be com-
pletely redesigned and made even safer — for
example, by getting rid of the hard steering
column and replacing it and the pedals with
levers or joysticks for operating the car. Com-
pletely new features are conceivable. In fact,
we can’t even begin to imagine the type of rev-
olutionary breakthroughs that electromobility
will lead to. Tim Schröder
Prof. Gernot Spiegelberg (right). With the Greenster
model, Siemens and Ruf are demonstrating just how attractive electric cars can be. When used as
grid-connected storage units, they can even earn
money with their batteries. We can’t even begin to imagine the type of revolution-
ary breakthroughs that electromobility will lead to.
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 47
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 63
In Brief Our power grids are facing new challenges.
They will not only have to integrate large
quantities of fluctuating wind and solar power,
but also incorporate an increasing number of
small, decentralized power producers. Today’s
infrastructure is not up to this task. The solu-
tion is to develop an intelligent grid that keeps
electricity production and distribution in bal-
ance. (p. 40) Power produced from renewable sources
such as wind and sunlight is irregular. Experts
are therefore looking at ways of storing sur-
plus energy so that it can be converted back
into electricity when required. One option is
underground hydrogen storage, which is inex-
pensive, highly efficient, and can feed power
into the grid quickly. (p. 48)
Renewable energy sources have to become
the rule, not the exception, says Dr. Dan Arvizu,
director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Na-
tional Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in
an interview. Therefore it’s necessary that re-
newable energy also reach consumers who are
far away from energy sources. The world’s most
powerful HV DCT system, which Siemens is
building in China, shows how these eco-friendly
energy sources can supply millions of citizens in
far-off megacities. In 2010 the system will be-
gin transmitting electricity at a record of 800
kilovolts over a distance of 1,400 kilometers
from hydroelectric plants to the southeastern
coast of China. This will cut the country’s annual
2 emissions by around 33 million tons. The
HVDCT line will transmit 5,000 megawatts —
equal to the output of five large power plants .
(pp. 44, 50)
Not only must power production become
more efficient, so too must electricity con-
sumers. Around 40% of the energy consumed
worldwide is used in buildings to provide
heating and lighting. But in the future, intelli-
gent building management systems will ease
the load on power and heat networks—and
even feed self-generated electricity into the
grid. (p. 52)
Power companies worldwide have begun
installing electronic smart meters that allow
customers to monitor their consumption
ractically in real time and thus conserve en-
ergy. Such companies benefit from better grid
load planning and lower costs. Experts say
completely new business models based on
smart metering will arise in coming years.
Siemens offers complete smart meter solu-
tions that include everything from hardware
to software. (p. 54) Small, distributed power plants, fluctuating
energy sources such as wind and sunlight,
and the deregulation of electric power mar-
kets have one thing in common. They in-
crease the need for reliable and economical
operation of electric power grids. The virtual
power plant is an intelligent solution from
Siemens. It networks multiple small power
stations to form a large, smart power grid. As
a part of this virtual plant, these small energy
producers can sell their power on the electrici -
ty market. (p. 56)
Industrial companies and energy suppliers
are working closely together to make the vi-
sion of electric mobility a reality. Along with
automotive engineering, the focus here is on
the interaction between vehicles, the power
grid, and the technologies needed for storing
and bidirectionally transmitting energy de-
rived from renewable sources. Tomorrow’s e lec tric vehicles will redefine mobility. Not
on ly will they recharge in only minutes at
fast-char ge stations. They will also function
as mobile power storage units for the smart
grid. (p. 60) LINKS:
Smart grid platform of the EU:
EDISON Project:
National Renewable Energy Laboratory:
Masdar Initiative:
European Network of TSOs:
Electric Power Research Institute:
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 65
we can also develop such companies more
productively than our competitors can.” By dis-
cussing their strategy with Siemens experts
the companies benefit from Siemens’ technical
expertise and global presence.
Dr. Ralf Schnell, CEO of SVC, is proud of his
team. “Since its founding in 1998, SVC has par-
ticipated in over 150 companies — and a third
of the firms in our current portfolio offer solu-
tions that boost energy efficiency. We’re active
in all major markets — in Europe, Asia, and the
U.S.,” he says. SVC invests €2 to €5 million per
financing round in early-stage companies. But
recently, it started offering minority stakes of
€10 to €30 million of so-called growth-capital
financing to established companies. The first
such investment was made in German waste
heat specialist Maxxtec AG. Every investment
ends with either the sale of the company or an
IPO. “At that point, the bottom-line return
must be solid,” Schnell explains.
Coping with Demand Peaks. SVC is on track
for success with Seattle-based Powerit Solu-
tions, in which it acquired an interest in May
2009. Powerit, which has seen its sales double
year after year, helps industrial firms avoid
Energy companies justify this policy by argu-
ing that they must maintain generating capac-
ity to cover even extremely rare demand
To avoid such peaks, Powerit Solutions links
and matches all key production power con-
sumers. Food production facilities, where re-
frigeration units account for a big share of
electricity consumption, are a good example.
Using predictive algorithms, Powerit’s soft-
ware determines when, how, and by how
much to turn off or down equipment without
affecting food quality or production. “Our ex-
perience with various industries gives us pre-
cise knowledge of the processes involved,”
says Zak. “We use this data to generate
complex decision-making matrices that help
us balance energy savings with productivity
requirements. And the systems are adaptive,
so they can adjust to a plant’s changing elec-
tric profile.” This strategy makes it possible to
reduce the power consumption not only of
ongoing processes but also of processes to be
carried out at a specific time in the future.
Powerit Solutions customers exploit such
capabilities to take advantage of demand re-
sponse programs — special contracts that al-
low providers to cap electricity supply at short
notice, for example in midsummer, when air
conditioners are running and the grid is in
danger of overloading. Customers can save
millions of dollars in just a few years through
these programs, enabling them to recoup their
initial investment very quickly.
Powerit Solutions’ industrial green technol-
ogy activities still largely focus on North Amer-
ica; around 70 of its solutions can be found in
the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. With the injec-
tion of financing by SVC, however, the com-
pany’s expansion can now be accelerated.
Bob Zak of Powerit Solutions and B. G.
Kulkarni of Transparent have a lot in common
in terms of business goals. Both intend to con-
quer the global market with their green tech-
nologies. And both have a partner in Siemens
that offers financial strength, a global net-
work, and industrial expertise, especially in en-
vironmental solutions. Some environmental technology compa-
nies in the SVC portfolio call themselves “green
dwarfs.” Together with the “green giant” —
Siemens — they can more effectively make
their vision of efficient resource utilization a
reality.Andreas Kleinschmidt
Project Financing with Siemens Major projects require solid financing; and strong financial partners are all the more important these
days, now that banks are restricting credit. With its numerous major projects, Siemens Project Ven-
tures (SPV) has demonstrated that Siemens can embark on new paths with its customers when it
comes to the issue of financing. Siemens Venture Capital (SVC) financially participates in companies, whereas SPV provides financing
for major projects. SPV’s activities to date have included financing the construction of a large coal-
fired power plant in Indonesia (project volume: $1.7 billion), as well as the construction of Bangalore
Airport ($585 million). “Siemens provides a portion of the financing and helps to raise funding for
projects in bank or capital markets,” explains Johannes Schmidt, head of Equity & Project Finance at
Siemens Financial Services. The company is helped here by its excellent contacts in the banking and
financial community.
SPV focuses on infrastructure projects in the energy sector, the traffic and transport infrastructure
(e.g. rail projects), and the healthcare sector. Siemens consistently plays a key role in SPV invest-
ments, whether as a general contractor or a supplier of important components. Like SVC, SPV also
seeks to gain a solid return through its financing ventures. “This means our most important skill has
to be the effective assessment of the risks of financing projects in relation to the potential earnings
they offer,” says Schmidt. “Siemens’ expertise and project experience is very helpful here, of course.”
Green technology projects are becoming more important for SPV as well. In May 2009, for example,
the company acquired 25 percent of BGZ AG, which is itself an investment firm with 140 employees.
The company implements solar, biomass, and wind power projects that also use Siemens technology.
Based in the northern German city of Husum, BGZ had installed 950 megawatts of wind power ca-
pacity worldwide by the end of 2008.
Volker Friedrichsen, the company’s founder, chief partner, and CEO, is glad to have SPV on board as a
new investor. “In Siemens, we’re pleased to have found a strong international partner to help us meet
our financing requirements in the high-growth market for renewable energies. Together with Siemens,
we’ll intensify our efforts to enter new markets,” he says.
peaks in electricity demand during production
operations. Powerit Solutions President Bob
Zak has been overwhelmed by demand for his
product. “Today, everyone wants to improve
energy efficiency in production and have solu-
tions tailored to their processes. That’s impor-
tant, as avoiding demand peaks saves compa-
nies lots of money,” he says.
This is the case in the U.S. at least, because
many energy contracts stipulate that monthly
energy invoices for industrial customers must
be calculated on the basis of a single con-
sumption interval — the one with the highest
load — even if actual consumption over the
entire month is lower. The intervals used by
U.S. utilities are often only 15 minutes long.
64 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
Pictures of the Future | Siemens Venture Capital
ransparent Energy Systems began in a
backyard in Pune, India in the late 1980s
with the production of small industrial steam
boilers. Even then, the company’s boilers were
more energy efficient than any others avail-
able in India. “The energy yield was at least
five percent higher than that of boilers from ri-
val firms,” recalls CEO B. G. Kulkarni with pride. Today, 20 years later, Kulkarni and his team
are involved in the production of major indus-
trial systems. Among the solutions they offer
are those that convert industrial waste heat,
such as that produced by cement plants, into
electricity. This saves money and helps protect
the environment. Systems from Transparent
Energy Systems generate up to 16 megawatts
While Transparent Energy Systems specializes in the utilization of waste heat (large image), Powerit
Solutions (below) develops software that helps to
avoid demand peaks, for example at wineries.
Green Dwarfs
Despite the current economic crisis, Siemens is investing venture capital in agile, innovative companies,
many of which work with green technologies.
of power — energy that used to be blown into
the air as unused heat.
“Our solutions meet our customers’ needs
— and not just in India,” says Kulkarni. So in
2008 he started looking for a partner who un-
derstood all aspects of his products and busi-
ness model — and reached an agreement with
Siemens Venture Capital (SVC) in May 2009.
SVC usually acquires a minority interest in
companies in the early phases of their devel-
opment or, as with Transparent, as key strate-
gic steps are about to be taken. SVC’s special
advantage here is that it can draw from
Siemens’ broad range of experience.
“Our connection to Siemens got started
when we were invited to participate in
Siemens’ India Innovation Program 2008 com-
petition, organized by SVC,” Kulkarni explains.
Transparent ended up winning, and almost im-
mediately after that it began talking with SVC’s
representative in India, Rajesh Vakil. Thanks to
Transparent’s expansion strategy, the com-
pany may soon significantly increase its work-
force of 150 contractual employees and 150
wage laborers at two sites in India.
“Transparent is an excellent example of
how we invest venture capital,” says Johannes
Schmidt, head of Equity & Project Finance at
Siemens Financial Services, of which SVC is a
part. “Our global network and expertise enable
us to identify extraordinary companies before
other venture capital firms. And in many cases
78 Preparing for a Fiery Future
To reach higher efficiencies,
to morrow’s coal-fired power plants will have to operate at 700 degrees Celsius. Materials are being developed that can take the heat.
82 Coal’s Cleaner Outlook
Researchers are developing tech-
nologies for storing the CO
erated by coal-fired power plants
in underground depots.
106 Let there be Savings! Researchers have studied the life-
cycles of lamps from production
to disposal. Result: Efficiency and
life span are the keys to a healthy
environmental balance sheet.
110 Miracle in the Laundry Room Bosch Siemens Hausgeräte has
developed a dryer that uses only
half the power of conventional
products — an energy-efficiency
world champion.
116 How to Own a Power Plant
Since the beginning of 2009,
many households have been able
to efficiently produce their own
heat and electricity using com-
bined heat and power units.
121 Timely Trains
Detailed life cycle analyses help
engineers design trains that are
environmentally friendly in their
operation, production, and
In his special lab, energy-efficiency sleuth
Henry Poiret fine tunes the environmental
balance sheets of new locomotives for a rail-
way company. The trains and the entire pro-
duction hall are represented as holograms.
Poiret is assisted in his work by his avatar
“Virtual Watson.” Here, he presents a new
drive system that produces electricity as
soon as the train brakes, and feeds it back
into the power grid. 66 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009 67
The scene is New York City
in 2025. Henry Poiret, a
former FBI scientist, is a
specialist in environmental
balance sheets who tracks
down energy wasters of all kinds for his clients. For the very first time, he allows a journalist to
watch him at work — and
to get an inside glimpse of
his new lab.
Energy- Saving
urn the light off for heaven’s sake!” The
elderly man hurries across the room, past
his secretary, and claps his hands quickly three
times. The bright ceiling lights go out, and at
the same time the dark-tinted panorama win-
dows become transparent, revealing a view of
Manhattan. “A few more kilowatt-hours saved,”
he says with evident satisfaction. “Welcome to
my office.”
It wasn’t easy getting an appointment with
Henry “the Sniffer” Poiret — least of all as a
journalist, because if there’s one thing the 70-
year-old former FBI scientist can’t stand, it’s
publicity. Poiret prefers to work out of sight,
and the prodigious wrongdoers he strives to
hunt down — power hogs and energy wasters,
gas guzzlers, and climate killers — often re-
main elusive as well. In short, anything that
consumes too much electricity, raw materials,
or other resources must go. Poiret is an energy-
Energy Efficiency | Scenario 2025
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009 6968 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009
efficiency sleuth. In recent years, he has made
a name for himself by cracking a number of
spectacular cases. In 2020, for example. With-
out him, the city council would surely not have
succeeded in setting up an almost completely
-neutral district. And many of us remember what happened
last summer, when the yellow cabs in Manhat-
tan finally went green thanks to electric drive
technology. The old fox had a hand in that too. At the moment, Poiret is ready to help a Eu-
ropean manufacturer of railway systems. U.S.
Track, the local New York transit operator,
wants to use a new generation of environmen-
tally-friendly high-speed trains. So it an-
nounced a competition — with the contract to
be awarded to the company whose locomotive
can demonstrate the best energy-efficiency
and most favorable environmental balance
sheet throughout its service life. Naturally, the
Europeans don’t want to miss the opportunity
to submit a concept, and they believe they can
maximize their chances with Poiret’s assis-
tance. The master sleuth has taken time out for
our magazine and has even agreed to give us
an exclusive look at his new laboratory. “Bobby, give the lad something to drink and
start up the lab, we’re going down,” the master
says. His secretary hands me a cup of coffee
and urges me into an elevator at the end of the
room. “I’ve set up a small workroom in the
basement,” says Poiret. “That’s where I also
show customers my results from time to time.
Mr. Watson is expecting us.” When the elevator
doors open, I am met by a wave of loud factory
noise. We are in the middle of a cavernous as-
sembly hall; welding robots are everywhere,
working on half-finished trains, and the air has
a metallic taste. “Watson,” calls Poiret, “turn off
that sound track immediately, it’s unbearable.” The din subsides in seconds. A figure that
seems strangely transparent glides forward
from behind a locomotive. “Allow me to intro-
duce Virtual Watson,” says Poiret. “You don’t
have to extend your hand, he couldn’t shake it
anyway. Mr. Watson is an avatar, a hologram,
just like the entire hall. An entirely new tech-
nology, and not exactly inexpensive.” Poiret
takes a sip of coffee. “The entire locomotive production process
can be simulated down here,” he explains. “The
manufacturer has already transferred the data
to me, so I can find out where energy and raw
materials are wasted, for example, and deter-
mine the best ways to save even more.” Poiret pulls an ultra-thin folding OLED dis-
play from his pocket. “But now let’s get to work.
We’re not playing a computer game here. Wat-
son, explain to our young friend what we’ve
learned.” “Very well, sir. We invited the Europeans to
our lab, and together we took the simulated
trains apart literally down to the last screw,
while the design stage was still under way. In
the process we noticed that the designers
wanted to use mainly aluminum panels from
China — flawless in quality, but rather inappro-
priate with regard to the train’s environmental
balance sheet.” Virtual Watson straightens his perfectly sim-
ulated bow tie. “Production of these panels is
very energy-intensive. And in China electricity
still comes to a large extent from coal-fired
power plants — they have become more effi-
cient in recent years, but they still haven’t inte-
grated a system of CO
storage. So they emit a
relatively large amount of CO
. This is why we
have recommended using aluminum panels
from Iceland and Norway. In those countries,
the electricity comes entirely from renewable
sources such as geothermal energy and hy-
dropower. That would considerably improve
the train’s environmental balance sheet.” Poiret nods in approval and browses
through pages on his OLED display. “Of course,
we had other suggestions,” reveals the energy-
efficiency detective. “Watson, show us the
front drive section.” The avatar strolls over to
one of the locomotives and touches the under-
body. As if by a magical force, the entire train
becomes transparent. “The drive system is not
only gearless and ultra-efficient; it also serves
as a generator. Whenever the locomotive is
moving downhill or its brakes are applied, it ac-
cumulates braking energy. It feeds the power
back into the electrical grid or uses it for its on-
board systems — so the train not only con-
sumes electrical energy, but also produces it.” Poiret gestures to Watson to climb aboard
one of the trains. The assistant takes a seat in
one of the compartments and lights up a vir-
tual pipe. “Mr. Watson has just made himself
nice and comfortable atop what is essentially a
compost heap: All the seat covers are com-
pletely environmentally compatible, and
what’s more, they will even become valuable
fertilizer after they have been used,” explains
Poiret. “In theory, you could even eat them. In-
cidentally, the whole train is completely recy-
clable and contains no toxic substances what-
soever. We succeeded in hunting down all the
environmental polluters before it was too late.” Poiret types a combination of keys into his
PDA. Slowly, the production hall disappears,
and all that remains is a small white room —
and Virtual Watson. “I still have a thing or two
to do here. Unfortunately, my holographic
room uses quite a bit of power,” he admits. “But
I can hardly bear to turn off Mr. Watson.”
Florian Martini
Energy Efficiency
| Scenario 2025
nyone familiar with the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change report (p. 7) can
no longer seriously doubt that climate change
is a reality. It’s clear that burning fossil fuels
such as gas, coal, and oil is a major cause of the
greenhouse effect. So how can we turn things
around? What would happen if we began using
the most modern and energy-efficient tech-
nologies available for cars, power plants and
household appliances? If we could start from
scratch — how much energy would a hypo-
thetical city with a population of ten million
people require? It turns out that a comparison
with a conventional city in an industrialized
country leads to some surprising results… Consider the figures for Germany, for in-
stance, which is the sixth-biggest energy con-
sumer after the U.S., China, Russia, Japan and
India. The country currently consumes 14,100
petajoules of primary energy per year (1 PJ
equals 10
J, one quadrillion joules). Germany
has a population of 82 million, which means
that a hypothetical city of ten million would
consume around 1,715 PJ. The German energy
mix consists of 33.5% petroleum, 22% natural
gas, 15% hard coal, 11% brown coal, 11%
nuclear power and around 7.5% power from
water, wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and
other sources. Converting this primary energy
into usable forms of energy leads to losses due
to energy consumption by power generation
facilities themselves and power transmission.
As a result, consum ers wind up with only 1,045
PJ of so-called “site energy.” Industry and busi-
ness consume 44% of this energy, households
26%,and the transportation sector 30%. In our hypothetical city, residents, authori-
ties, and industry have all pledged to practice
energy conservation. Heat is a good place to
start, because 53% of site energy in Germany is
used solely to generate heat for offices and
homes, as well as heating up household water
and supplying process heat in industry.Accord-
ing to the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Energie bilan zen
— a federation of seven German energy associa -
tions — heat accounts for 80% of total energy
consumption in private households. Heat thus offers huge savings potential that
can easily be exploited. According to Germany’s
Federal Environment Agency, energy consump-
tion could be cut by 56% in older buildings alone
simply by renovating, insulating outer walls and
basement ceilings, and installing heat-insulated
windows. Old buildings consume 17–25 liters
of oil or cubic meters of gas per square meter
of space per year. For comparison, conven-
tional new buildings require only ten liters/cubic
meters per year and low-energy houses five to
seven. Even more impressively, a so-called
“passive house” needs just 1.5 liters of oil or cu-
bic meters of gas per square meter per year. It is therefore not surprising that all the old
buildings in our hypothetical city have been
renovated and new buildings have been built in
line with low-energy or passive house stan-
dards using government funding.
The situation is similar for industrial and
commercial buildings, in which process heat
and space heating account for 67% of energy
consumption. Electricity is also needed for ven-
tilation and air conditioning systems. In our ef-
ficient city, however, these systems no longer
run at full capacity but are instead regulated in
line with requirements. Here, heat and CO
sensors determine whether rooms are too cold
or stuffy, while other sensors register if rooms
are occupied and assess how much fresh air is
needed. Such solutions are a specialty of
Siemens’ Building Technologies Division,
whose experts search for “energy leaks” in
everything from hospitals and shopping cen-
ters to government agencies, schools and uni-
versities. As it turns out, energy consumption
Energy requirements and CO
emissions of ten million people (based on
figures for Germany in 2007). The most effective levers for reducing CO
emissions by consumers are heat, electricity and energy used for trans-
portation; cutting losses is the key factor in terms of energy generation.
Cities:A Better Energy Picture
Many energy-efficient solutions that could substantially reduce
power consumption are
already available. A study
of a hypothetical city —
the world champion in energy efficiency — pro-
vides insight into how
such solutions could work in practice.
| Urban Energy Analysis
From hard coal
21 million tons = 22%
(83,000 t / PJ)
From petroleum
36 million tons = 37%
(63,500 t / PJ)
From natural gas
20 million tons = 20.5%
(54,000 t / PJ)
2 emissions
97 million tons of CO
per year
Hard coal
256 PJ 15%
Brown coal
188 PJ 11%
576 PJ
Natural gas
377 PJ
189 PJ 11%
129 PJ = 7.5%
Primary energy con-
sumption 1,715 PJ / a
(59 million tons hard
coal equivalent)
Electricity generation mix
Nuclear energy
(average eff. = 35%)
Heating oil 1.5%
Hard coal (average efficiency
at German power
plants = 38%)
Brown coal (average eff. = 37.5%)
Water (3.1%), wind (6.4%), solar (0.7%), geothermal (0.1%), biomass (3.5%), waste (0.7%)
Natural gas (average eff. = 49.6%)
Industry + commercial 460 PJ = 44%
Space heating
100 PJ
Heating oil 41 PJ = 14% Natural gas 161 PJ = 54% Heating 43 PJ = 27% Mechanical energy 90 PJ = 55% I&C technology 10 PJ = 6%
Lighting 19 PJ = 11,5% Heating oil 56 PJ = 27%
Natural gas 110 PJ = 53%
District heating 8% Renewables 12%
Passenger cars (5.6 million)
217 PJ = 69%
Kitchen appliances 10 PJ = 16%
Freezers/refrigerators 10 PJ = 16%
Washing machines, dryer 9 PJ = 15%
ot water 11 PJ = 17%
TV, I&C, office 14 PJ = 22%
Lighting 6 PJ = 10%
Others 2 PJ = 4%
Trucks 44 PJ = 14%
Air transportation 32 PJ = 10%
Local/long-distance rail 13 PJ = 4%
Buses 6 PJ = 2%
Ships 3 PJ = 1%
Source: DIW, Arbeitsgemeinschaft Energiebilanzen 2009,
Process heat
198 PJ
162 PJ
Space heating
208 PJ
Electricity 62 PJ
308 PJ
Electricity 7 PJ
270 PJ = 26%
315 PJ = 30%
Delivered energy use: 1,045 PJ/a
From brown coal
20 million tons = 20.5%
(106,000 t / PJ)
in power generation
and transmission, and energy
consumption in the energy
sector itself: 670 PJ = 39%
A hypothetical German megacity would require approximately 231 PJ of electrical e
nergy per year (= 64 TWh / a). Given the current German energy mix, this translates
into power plants with a total output of approximately 11 gigawatts, which in turn
require some 680 PJ of primary energy and produce 34 million tons of CO
District heating 18 PJ = 6% Renewables 21 PJ = 7% 1 petajoule (PJ) = 0.278 Terawatt-hours (TWh)
Energy Picture of a City of Ten Million Based on Current German Use
Coal 57 PJ = 19% Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2007 7170 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2007
in many buildings can be cut by 20%–40%
without a major investment in new technology. Miserly Motors. Our efficient city has also
plugged other energy leaks, such as losses from
the electric motors used in drives, conveyor
belts and pumps. Motors account for nearly 70%
of total industrial power consumption. A lot of
energy can be saved here by using intelligent
and more efficient motors. In the past, virtually
no one knew how much electricity was being
used by which machines in a factory. But
Siemens has developed analysis software that
enables operators to obtain such data. The
software works its way through processes at a
factory and finds out how much energy is con-
sumed by each machine — and when. This
process reveals hidden potential for optimiza-
tion and identifies energy guzzlers. Of course, waste heat is also harnessed in
the efficient city. Siemens offers a concept here
that is perfect for all sectors where large
amounts of waste heat are produced, such as
the glass, metal, pharmaceutical and cement
industries. The principle is always the same.
Waste heat vaporizes a liquid, and the resulting
gas is used to drive a turbine, which in turn
generates electricity. Naturally, all of these measures cost money.
And given that local governments generally
operate on tight budgets, energy savings per-
formance contracting can offer an ideal solution.
Here, Siemens plans and installs new technology
that guarantees energy savings. Local govern-
ment pays for the investment in installments
financed from the energy savings achieved.
Such a system doesn’t burden local budgets, and
once the contract expires after around ten years,
all savings flow directly to the client. In Berlin,
for example, Siemens renovated 11 municipal
indoor pools by replacing boilers and installing
more-efficient heat recovery and warm water
processing systems. It also converted operation
from oil to gas. The public swimming pools now
save 1.63 million euros per year — or one third
of their previous energy costs. Performance
contracting particularly pays off in old municipal
buildings, where it can often halve energy con-
sumption. The concept has also been success-
fully implemented in hospitals and universities.
Putting the Brakes on Energy Use.Our en-
ergy-efficient city has also addressed the second-
biggest energy consumer — transportation,
which accounts for 28% of delivered energy. Up
until recently, 5.6 million passenger cars were
on the road in this hypothetical city, emitting
15 million tons of CO
2 per year. That was rea-
son enough to start using the extensive and
modernized public transit network, especially
since taxes and toll fees had made driv ing vehi-
cles with high CO
emissions expensive. The
new buses and trains are comfortable, travel at
frequent intervals, and consume 30% less en-
ergy than their predecessors, thanks to light-
weight materials and regenerative braking sys-
tems. Motorists use hybrid vehicles that store
braking energy in their batteries, which is then
transferred to an electric motor. This reduces
fuel consumption by around 20%. It will be pos-
sible to save even more energy when electric
drives and electric brakes are integrated directly
into each vehicle’s wheels.In the meantime, In-
ternet-based information and efficient traffic
guidance systems are helping to prevent traffic
jams and facilitate parking.
Green Energy Production. Our city wouldn’t
be an efficiency champion if it hadn’t also cut
power consumption. Although electricity ac-
counts for only 22% of all delivered energy con-
sumed in Germany, that’s just half the story. Af-
ter all, it first has to be generated in gas, coal or
nuclear power plants, whose losses total any-
where between 50% and 65%. In other words,
40% of all the primary energy consumed in Ger-
many is used to produce electricity. That was
too much for the efficiency champions, who
make better use of primary energy in facilities
like combined-cycle power plants, which today
can convert more than 58% of the energy con-
tained in gas into electricity. The energy-effi-
cient city also exploits associated heat, pushing
the fuel conversion rate to over 80%. Here,
process steam and heat are sent via pipes to
nearby factories and apartment buildings. In the town of Irsching, where a 570-mega -
watt combined-cycle plant is being built for en-
ergy supplier E.ON, Siemens is already demon-
strating that efficiency ratings of more than 60%
could soon be the norm. Weighing 444 tons,
this 13-meter-long gas turbine is as heavy as six
diesel locomotives — but has 100 times the
output. In fact, its 375 megawatts could supply
the population of a city like Hamburg. Future
versions of the plant are expected to achieve
an efficiency of 63% within ten years. The im-
plications of this become clear when you con-
sider that replacing all coal-fired plants world-
wide with the latest combined-cycle plants
would result in over four billion tons less CO
being released into the atmosphere each year. Renewable energy sources also help reduce
emissions in our imaginary city. For exam-
ple, solar cells can be found on top of nearly
every public and private building. Windmills,
solar thermal and geothermal plants and bio-
mass power plants also provide their share of
electricity, while a large portion of household
waste is converted into fuel for power plants. Saving at Home. Residents of the efficient
city also contribute to energy conservation. Al-
most half of all electricity consumed in the
household is used by refrigerators, freezers,
stoves, washing machines and dishwashers.
Purchasing new appliances is the best invest-
ment here, as the consumption of such devices
has been cut by 30%–75% since 1990. The
Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment
and Energy estimates that replacing old house-
hold appliances throughout Germany would
reduce annual electricity consumption by 7.9
tera watt-hours (billion kWh) or 28.4 PJ — the
equivalent of the annual electricity require-
ment of nearly five million people. Lighting systems in this hypothetical high-
efficiency city would be completely revamped
as well. Lighting accounts for more than 10% of
electricity consumption in Germany and nearly
19% worldwide. Given the current global en-
ergy mix, that corresponds to emissions of two
billion tons of CO
per year — or the emissions
produced by 700 million passenger cars. The
potential for savings here is huge and easy to
exploit because energy-saving lamps can reduce
consumption by up to 80% compared to con-
ventional light bulbs. So too can LED lamps,
which last around 50 times longer than incan-
descent light bulbs. Energy consumption can also be reduced in
production facilities, which up until now have
often been equipped with several thousand flu-
orescent lamps. State-of-the-art mirror louvre lu-
minaires, electronic ballasts and dimmers that
automatically adjust to natural light can generate
lighting-related electricity savings of up to 80%. Thanks to the combined potential for energy
conservation in households, buildings, industry,
transportation and power plant technology, an
efficient city could reduce its consumption of
primary energy and its CO
emissions by 50%.
This analysis of a hypothetical city clearly
demonstrates that a variety of solutions already
exist for achieving major reductions in energy
consumption. In other words, they don’t have to
be developed — they could be implemented
right now.Tim Schröder
Energy Efficiency
| Urban Energy Analysis
Replacing old appliances throughout Germany would save enough electricity for 5 million people. A
stronauts working at the International
Space Station (ISS) are treated to a spectac-
ular view as they orbit the earth. With each
revolution, the earth grows dark, and billions of
lights 390 kilometers below join to form a
shimmering meshwork that extends across
land masses like a spider web. This light is, in
fact, the only visible sign of civilization on our
planet, at least as seen from space. The sea of light continually expands as the
earth’s population grows. According to the UN,
there will be eight billion people living on our
planet in 2020. As prosperity spreads, these
people will seek a higher standard of living,
and will thus begin buying more and more elec-
trical appliances, cars, and other products, which
in turn will necessitate the construction of new
factories and offices. More than anything else,
all of this will require huge amounts of energy.
“Energy is a necessity of life,” says Professor
Peter Hennicke, former head of the Wuppertal
Institute for Climate, Environment, and Energy.
“But it can also be a curse if you look at it in
terms of climate change, resource depletion,
and the failure to use and produce it efficiently
and economically.” Unfortunately, we’re still far
from doing that, according to the International
Energy Agency (IEA), and things won’t get any
better if current trends hold up. The IEA pre-
dicts that global primary energy consumption
will increase by 55 percent between 2005 and
2030 if the current environmental policy
framework remains unchanged (see p. 27).
Consumption would thus rise to 18 billion tons
of oil equivalent (toe) per year, as compared to
11.4 billion toe in 2005. The IEA study says developing countries will
be responsible for 74 percent of this increase in
primary energy consumption — with China
and India alone accounting for 45 percent.
Moreover, both of these countries will meet
most of their energy needs with coal because,
unlike other raw materials, coal remains abun-
dant and is currently cheaper than renewable
energy sources. China already has a huge
hunger for coal. The country put 174 coal-fired
power plants online in 2006 alone, which aver-
ages out to one new plant every two days. This
is a climate-change nightmare, says Hennicke,
especially when you consider the fact that facil-
ities built today will remain in operation for the
next 30 years. “In order to contain the associ-
ated risks to the climate, we have to exploit the
most effective, fastest, and least expensive po-
tential solution: energy efficiency.” China is aware of the problem, and has there-
fore included in its 11th Five-Year Plan strict
stipulations for reducing environmental pollution
and improving energy efficiency. New techno -
logies from Siemens are pointing the way here. A blanket of illumination as seen from space is a re-
minder of our planet’s hunger for energy, which is expected to increase by 55 percent by 2030. By 2020, Earth will be home to eight billion people.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
The world’s population is
growing — as is its thirst
for energy, which is increasingly being
quenched, especially in
emerging markets, by
streams of coal. But solutions are in sight.
Emissions can be cleaned
and CO
can be sequestered. Efficiency
can stretch supplies and
cut pollution. And new, renewable energy technologies are right
around the corner. | Trends
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2007 73
esidents of the town of Irsching in Bavaria,
came out in droves in Spring 2007 to wit-
ness the traditional raising of their white and
blue maypole. Three weeks later, they ap-
peared in droves again — this time out of
concern for the pole, as an oversized trailer had
shown up carrying a new turbine for the town’s
power plant. The residents were worried that
the turbine, which measured 13 meters in
length, five meters in height, and weighed 444
tons, could pose a threat to their beloved
maypole. This was not the case, however; spe-
cialists supervising the transport were actually
more concerned about a bridge at the en-
trance to the town, which they renovated as a
precautionary measure prior to the turbine’s
The world’s largest gas turbine measures 13 me-
ters in length, five meters in height and weighs
444 tons. It was built at Siemens’ gas turbine
plant in Berlin.
The world’s largest gas turbine, with an output of 375
megawatts, entered trial service in December 2007. In combination with a downstream steam turbine, it will help ensure that a new combined cycle power plant
achieves a record-breaking efficiency of more than 60 percent when it goes into operation in 2011. | World’s Largest Gas Turbine
72 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008
Take, for example, China’s most modern
electrical power plant, the Huaneng Yuhuan
coal-fired facility (see p. 77). Since November
2007, so-called ultra super-critical steam tur-
bine units and generators from Siemens have
made possible an efficiency rating of 45 per-
cent at Huaneng Yuhuan. That’s 15 percentage
points higher than the global average for hard-
coal power plants and seven percentage points
more than the EU average. This is significant,
since one percentage point of higher efficiency
translates for a mid-sized power plant into
around 100,000 fewer tons of CO
2 per year. “If
we use the same technology in future projects,
it will make a huge contribution to improving
energy efficiency and environmental protection
Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power
plants. IGCC plants transform coal and other fu-
els like oil and asphalt into a synthetic gas that
drives a turbine. From this gas, the CO
can be
separated relatively easily, leaving only pure
hydrogen behind. “We’re ready to start con-
struction of a major IGCC facility anytime,” says
Dr. Christiane Schmid from Siemens Fuel Gasifi-
cation Technology GmbH, in Frei berg, Ger-
many. “Siemens, after all, has been involved in
the development of optimized IGCC concepts
for years now.” Spain and the Netherlands, for
cent between now and 2050 through more ef-
ficient utilization of energy, with only marginal
additional costs, according to Hennicke. Operators of an indoor swimming pool in Vi-
enna, Austria, are already reaping the benefits
of more efficient energy use. Thanks to a clever
energy-saving model and building manage-
ment system from Siemens, the pool facility
now produces around 600 tons less greenhouse
gas per year than in the past. The Siemens
setup not only helps the environment; it’s also
saving the pool’s operator €200,000 per year on
in China’s electrical power generation indus-
try,” says Hu Shihai, Deputy Managing Director
of the China Huaneng Group. Scientists at Siemens’ Energy unit in Mül-
heim an der Ruhr, Germany, are working on so-
called 700-degree technology (see p. 78) as a
means of increasing the efficiency of coal-fired
power plants, which remain in great demand.
Here, experts are trying to get turbines to with-
stand extremely high steam temperatures,
since the higher the temperature, the more ef-
ficient the system will be. New materials and
manufacturing techniques are being studied in
an effort to achieve a temperature of 700 de-
grees Celsius and pressure of 350 bars, which is
around 100 degrees and 65 bars more than the
norm in today’s power plants. Only at those
new high levels can an efficiency rating of 50
percent be achieved. CO
SINK.Development engineers are also
looking at other concepts for making coal-fired
power plants more climate friendly. One ap-
proach involves separating the carbon dioxide
created by the coal-burning process, and stor-
ing it below ground to keep it out of the atmos-
phere. This would amount to nearly CO
electricity production (see p. 82). One promis-
ing technique is coal gasification in Integrated
example, already have IGCC power plants with
Siemens technology in operation. But before
such plants can be built, a number of hurdles
will have to be overcome. The problem is that
the legal framework for efficient CO
tion still hasn’t been clarified, and locations
where CO
might be stored have yet to be
found and tested. The world’s most extensive
study of underground CO
-storage possibilities
is currently being carried out in the small town
of Ketzin near Berlin by scientists from the Ger-
man Research Center for Geosciences in Pots-
dam (see p. 85), who will depo siting 60,000
tons of carbon dioxide in special rock strata
700 meters below ground by 2010. CO
as the EU-sponsored project is known,exam-
ines how the gas reacts after being pum ped
underground and will determine whether it
could threaten to find its way back to the surface.
Geologists believe that CO
can be trapped
for thousands, or perhaps millions, of years,
which means climate-friendly coal power
plants may become a reality. “Still, it’s going to
take time before such facilities can operate
economically,” cautions Hennicke. “That’s why,
in addition to focusing on producing energy
more efficiently, we should be trying to use it
much more efficiently as well.” A country such
as Japan could reduce CO
emissions by 70 per-
heating and water costs. Siemens has already
implemented over 1,000 such energy perform-
ance contracting projects worldwide. It’s a win-
win situation for companies and the environ-
ment alike, as the savings potential is huge.
According to the IEA, buildings account for
around 40 percent of global energy consump-
tion and 21 percent of CO
emissions. Also in need of an energy diet are the ap-
proximately 30 million servers around the
world that keep the Internet up and running.
According to Stanford University, operating
these computers requires the energy gener-
ated by 14 power plants in the 1,000-
megawatt class. Cutting down on energy con-
sumption here would also produce impressive
results. “Computer centers could reduce elec-
tricity consumption by more than one-third if
they switched over to more efficient technolo-
gies,” says David Murphy, who coordinates
“Green IT” projects at Siemens IT Solutions and
Services. Such projects will become more and
more important in the face of rising energy
prices and growing CO
emissions. For all its negative publicity, carbon dioxide
has one positive characteristic: it has led to a
huge innovation boom in the areas of energy ef-
ficiency and environmentally-friendly technolo-
gies. A per fect example is the state of Cali fornia,
whose strict environmental regulations make it
an eldorado for companies that produce clean
technologies, among them Siemens. The solu-
tions being developed there, ranging from ex-
tremely efficient computer chips to plug-in hy-
brid vehicles that “fill up” on sunlight, are
pioneering, says Hennicke. “Moreover,” he
adds, “if the U.S. would even come close to ex-
ploiting its potential for renewable energy, we
would see a huge wave of innovation that
would bring us a lot closer to our goal of pro-
viding energy to billions of people in a sustain-
able manner.” Florian Martini
“We have to exploit the most effective, and least expensive potential solution: energy efficiency.”
74 percent of the increase in global primary energy consumption will take place in emerging economies.
Energy Efficiency
| Trends
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2007 75
speaking, therefore, less fuel will be burned
and 40,000 tons less carbon dioxide (CO
) per
year will be emitted into the atmosphere than
would be the case with the Mainz-Wiesbaden
plant. But there was still plenty of work to do after
the plant was built in 2007, as technicians still
had to test all systems to ensure that the gas
lines were pressure-tight, electrical cables were
properly secured, and that all valves could
open and close quickly and reliably. It was like a
final check before a space mission — and the
countdown was under way, with ignition
scheduled for mid-December, 2007. There’s good reason for Siemens’ decision
to use one giant turbine rather than the two
smaller ones E.ON will put into operation next
door. “The price per megawatt (MW) of output
and efficiency correlate with the size of the tur-
bine — in other words, the bigger it is, the
more economical it will be,” explains Willibald
Fischer, who is responsible for development of
the turbine. “In 1990, the largest gas turbine
produced 150 MW, and, in conjunction with a
Efficiency Record. Siemens’ project manager
Wolfgang Winter points to one of the walls and
explains that it is the connection to the air in-
take unit, which draws in fresh air from the
outside. Equipped with a special housing, fil-
ters, and sound absorbers, the unit channels in
800 kilograms of air per second when the facil-
ity operates at full capacity — an amount that
would exhaust the air inside the hall in just a
few minutes. But it will be worth the effort because the
gas turbine and a downstream steam turbine
will set a new world record in 2011 with an ef-
ficiency rating of over 60 percent, two percent-
age points higher than the previous titleholder,
the Mainz-Wiesbaden power plant. Relatively
The turbine produces enough electricity for the population of a city the size of Hamburg.
75-MW steam turbine, had an efficiency of 52
percent. Our gas turbine has an output of 375
MW. In combination with a 190-MW steam tur-
bine it utilizes more than 60 percent of the en-
ergy content of the gas fuel.” Engineers at Siemens Energy overcame two
challenges while designing the turbine. They
increased the amount of air and combustion
gases that flow through the turbine each sec-
ond, which causes output to rise more than the
losses in the turbine, and they raised the tem-
perature of the combustion gases, which in-
creases efficiency. “It’s tricky when you send gas heated to
1,200 to 1,500 degrees Celsius across metal
turbine blades,” says Fischer. “That’s because
the highest temperature the blade surfaces are
allowed to be exposed to is 950 degrees, at
which point they begin to glow red. If it gets
any hotter, the material begins to lose its stabil-
ity and oxidizes.” Ceramic Coating. Siemens engineers have
been creative in tackling this problem. One
thing they did was lower the heat transfer from
the combustion gas to the metal by applying a
protective thermal coating consisting of two
layers: a 300-micrometer-thick undercoating
directly on the metal and a thin ceramic layer
on top of that, which provides heat insulation.
The blades are also actively cooled, as they are
hollow inside and are exposed to cool airflows
generated by the compressor. The blades at the
very front (the hottest part of the turbine) also
have fine holes, from which air is released that
then flows across the blades, covering them
with a thin insulating film, like a protective
shield. As turbine blades spin, massive centrifugal
forces come into play. The end of each blade is
exposed to a maximum force of 10,000 times
the earth’s gravitational pull, which is the
74 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2007
Energy Efficiency
| World’s Largest Gas Turbine
The world’s largest turbine, which was built
at Siemens’ Energy plant in Berlin, traveled
1,500 kilometers to get to Irsching — initially
by water along the Havel river, various canals,
the Rhine, and the Main. It then went down the
Main-Danube Canal to Kelheim, where it was
loaded onto a truck for the final 40 kilometers.
This odyssey was undertaken because the only
way to truly test such a large and powerful tur-
bine is to put it into operation at a power plant.
“It was a nice coincidence that the energy com-
pany E.ON was planning to expand the power
station in Irsching,” says Wolfgang Winter, En-
ergy project manager in Irsching. Siemens built a combined cycle plant at the
Bavarian facility (Block 5) for E.ON Kraftwerke
GmbH. The plant houses two small gas tur-
bines and a steam turbine. Siemens also built
the plant’s new Block 4, where the giant tur-
bine is installed. The new turbine’s output of
375 megawatts, which equals that of 17 jumbo
jet engines, is enough to supply power to the
population of a city the size of Hamburg. “Block 4 is our project at the moment,” says
Winter. Siemens uses the existing infrastruc-
ture here, purchases gas from E.ON-Ruhrgas,
and sells the electricity it produces at the plant.
But that was not that important in 2007, how-
ever, as the turbine first needed to be tested
over the following 18 months. To this end, the
unit was equipped with 3,000 sensors that
measure just about everything modern tech-
nology can register — from temperature and
pressure to mechanical stress and material
strain. If a component is defective, or fails,
computers linked to the sensors call attention
to the problem immediately. The component
will then be removed, replaced, or reworked. Most of the measuring technology is hid-
den; the thing that stands out at the facility is a
section of 21 office trailers housing the tur-
bine’s measurement stations. The trailers look
tiny next to the turbine hall, which is 30 meters
high. Despite its massive size, the new facility’s
metal facade makes it seem light and modern
compared to the plant’s three old concrete tow-
ers from the 1960s and ’70s, each of which is
200 meters high.
The world’s largest gas turbine has an output of 375 megawatts — which equals the power of 17 jumbo jet engines.Weighing in at 444 tons, the turbine is carefully positioned. Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008 77
Yuhuan, China’s most advanced coal-fired power
plant, boasts a record-breaking efficiency of 45 percent — thanks to ultra-supercritical steam
turbines supplied by Siemens (small photo). power plants over the last 25 years, but the de-
sign and performance of those at Yuhuan are
really special,” says Lothar Balling, Vice Presi-
dent Steam Power Plants at Siemens. The plant
operator agrees. “We’ve known for a long time
that Siemens supplies the very latest technol-
ogy and high-quality systems,” says Fan Xiaxia,
Vice President of Huaneng Power International
Inc. “Huaneng needs this kind of advanced
technology to help it develop as a company.”
On the other hand, Huaneng is relaxed about
the prospect of Yuhuan soon being overtaken in
the efficiency stakes. Indeed, it’s firmly hoped
that the plant will lead the way for China’s
other power generators. That’s because en-
hanced efficiency, environmental compatibil-
ity, and sustainability are a must for China’s
electricity industry. “The Chinese administra-
tion has categorically said that the country’s
economy can’t be allowed to grow at the ex-
pense of the environment,” says Hu Shihai, As-
sistant General Manager at China Huaneng
Group. “That’s why the 11th Five-Year Plan con-
tains very strict targets on the reduction of pol-
lution and improvements in energy efficiency.”
Energy Appetite. China needs to overcome
huge challenges if it is to remain on the path of
economic growth. According to official statis-
tics, the country's energy demand has risen by
an average of 5.6 percent every year since the
start of the reform era in the early 1980s, and
last year it leapt by a massive 20 percent. Back in 2003, China had a total installed
generating capacity of 400 gigawatts (GW). By
2007, that figure had risen to 720 GW, and is
now forecast to top 1,000 GW by 2011. In
2006 alone, 174 coal-fired power plants in the
500-megawatt class entered service in China
— in other words, on average, one every other
day. Driving the country’s growth is not only in-
dustry but also private consumption, with most
Chinese households now owning a refrigerator
and TV, and many now investing in washing
machines and air conditioning as well. How-
ever, per capita electricity consumption is still
low by international standards and, according
to a study by the International Energy Agency
(IEA), was only around 1,780 kilowatt-hours
(kWh) in 2005, substantially less than in Ger-
many (7,100 kWh) or the U.S. (13,640 kWh).
On the other hand, when this figure is com-
pared to economic output, China is anything
but frugal: for every unit of GDP, the People’s
Republic consumes 3.5 times as much energy
as the international average.
As much as 73 percent of the country’s elec-
tricity is generated from coal, the only source of
energy that China possesses in any considerable
quantities and which therefore doesn’t have to
be imported at high cost. In 2007, around 1.5
billion tons of coal were burned in Chinese
power plants. Any improvements in efficiency
will therefore have a substantial impact on the
country’s consumption of resources, fuel costs,
and greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, a rise of
a single percentage point in efficiency brings
fuel costs down by 2.5 percentage points. For a
medium-sized power plant that has an installed
capacity of 700 MW and operates for 7,000
hours a year, this translates into an annual
reduction of 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide. “Efficient and environmental power plant
technology has a big role to play in reducing
emissions,” says Balling. “Our aim is to real-
ize this potential worldwide.” This approach fits
perfectly with the political strategy of the Peo-
ple’s Republic. The country has already sur-
passed the U.S. as the world’s largest producer
of greenhouse gases and is aware of the
responsibility that goes with this role. During
initial negotiations for the follow-up to the
Kyoto Protocol, China demonstrated that it takes
the threat of global warming very seriously. Record Efficiency. In June 2006 Beijing pub-
lished its own roadmap as to how to reduce
emissions of greenhouse gases. The target is to
raise energy efficiency 20 percent by 2010,
based on 2005 levels. In addition, by building
more-efficient coal-fired power plants, the gov-
ernment plans to reduce carbon dioxide emis-
sions by 200 million tons over the same period.
“When you look at the most recent power
plants in China, it’s obvious the country’s al-
ready long past the stage of being a developing
nation,” says Lutz Kahlbau, who was President
of Siemens Power Generation China until mid
2009. “In fact, China’s most modern power
plants are among the best anywhere in the
world, with great efficiency and comparatively
low CO
emissions,” he adds.
Leading the way is the Yuhuan plant. “It’s
the most energy-efficient and environmentally
compatible coal-fired power plant anywhere in
China,” says Hu. “If we use the same technol-
ogy for future projects, it will have a huge im-
pact on the efficiency and environmental im-
pact of China’s power industry.” Siemens is already targeting new records for
future power plants. “The next generation of
coal-fired plants will operate at steam tempera-
tures of 700 degrees Celsius and pressures in
excess of 300 bars,” Balling explains. “That
should enable us to break the magical barrier
of 50 percent efficiency and thus significantly
reduce CO
emissions compared to today’s lev-
els.” With so much potential for progress, 2008
won’t be the last big year in China’s calendar. Bernhard Bartsch
efficiency of power plants in China is 30 per-
cent, a figure similar to that of the U.S., and
even in environmentally-progressive Europe it’s
only 38 percent.
Not that there’s anything artificially en-
hanced about the performance of the Yuhuan
facility, which is operated by Huaneng Power
International Inc. Such efficiency is possible
thanks to the use of so-called ultra-supercritical
steam turbines from Siemens (see p. 78), which
make it possible to produce temperatures of 600
degrees Celsius and a pressure of 262.5 bars in
the main steam line. By way of comparison, the
pressure in a car tire is around 3.3 bars. The gen-
erators are also from Siemens. “I’ve seen a lot of
76 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008
Energy Efficiency
equivalent of each cubic centimeter of such a
blade weighing as much as an adult human
being. The blades of the new mega turbine are
made of a nickel alloy. These used to be cast
and then left to harden. Later, crystallites were
made to grow in the same direction as the cen-
trifugal forces. But now the blades on the giant
turbine in Irsching contain alloys that have
mostly been grown as single crystals through
the utilization of special cooling processes.
They are therefore extremely resistant to break-
ing, as there are no longer any grain bound-
aries between the crystallites in the alloy that
can rupture. Engineers also optimized the shape of
the blades with the help of 3D simulation
programs, whereby the edges were designed
to keep the gap between the blades and the
turbine wall as small as possible. As a result,
practically all the gas passes across the blades
and is utilized. The blade-wall gap is made even
smaller due to the turbine’s operation in a
cone. This means that the shaft can be shifted
several millimeters during operation until the
blades nearly touch the housing — a practice
known as “hydraulic gap optimization.”
Trial Run. Each off the measures mentioned
above produces only a fractional increase in
efficiency or output. But taken together they
add up to a new record. That everything
worked as planned was revealed by the
18-month trial period that began in November
2007. The tests were successful beyond expec-
tations. After thorough analysis of the test
results, it is now possible to announuce the
turbine’s power rating: 375 MW in pure gas
operation, and 570 MW when used as a
combined cycle power plant. A release for dis-
tribution was issued in August 2009, meaning
that the new mega turbine is on the market. After successful completion of all tests in
August of 2009, things are now quiet in
Irsching. The turbine will now be overhauled
and disassembled, and all of its components
will be thoroughly examined. If everything is
found to be in order, the unit will be reassem-
bled minus its specialized measuring equip-
ment. During the overhaul, engineers will install
an additional steam turbine on the shaft at the
end of the generator. The turbine will make use
of the generator’s 600-degree-Celsius gas to
generate steam in a heat exchanger. Only
through this combined cycle process can the
energy in the gas be so effectively exploited as
to achieve the record efficiency of 60 percent –
a record in terms of eco-friendliness. Bernhard Gerl
Olympic Efficiencies
Generating capacity has long been regarded as the
Achilles heel of China’s boom. But thanks to new technology from Siemens, power generation in the
People’s Republic is becoming increasingly efficient,
environmentally compatible, and sustainable.
or China, 2008 was just the latest in a
whole series of big years. With posters for
the summer’s Beijing Olympics plastered across
billboards throughout the provinces, the Chi-
nese looked upon the Games as a golden op-
portunity to not only put on a huge sporting
festival but also to showcase their country’s re-
cent achievements. Despite having increased
gross domestic product by a nominal factor of
13 over the period since 1990, the People’s Re-
public was determined to show the world that
it still has a lot of potential.
The buzzwords of China’s latest wave of
modernization were “efficiency, environmental
compatibility, and sustainability” — areas in
which China intends to excel every bit as much
as in summer’s 2008 sporting events in Beijing.
The latest demonstration of China’s commit-
ment to these goals — a commitment en-
dorsed by the entire Beijing administration —
is on display in Zhejiang province, south of
Shanghai, which is home to China’s most mod-
ern power plant. The Yuhuan coal-fired plant consists of four
1,000-megawatt generating units, of which
the two most recent — Units 3 and 4 — en-
tered service in November 2007. The facility
boasts an efficiency of 45 percent, which is
very much a winning performance in this field,
even by international standards. The average
| Coal-Fired Power in China
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008 79
Energy Efficiency
| Steam Turbine Materials 78 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008
In a Siemens factory in Mülheim an der Ruhr,
scientists prepare turbine materials for ultra-high temperatures (left). Gigantic steam turbines will one day have to withstand over 700 degrees Celsius.
Preparing for a Fiery Future To achieve 50 percent efficiency and cut environmental
impact, tomorrow‘s coal-fired power plants will use hotter steam. Testing turbine materials at hellish tem-
peratures and centrifugal forces is part of the picture.
n a materials lab at Siemens’ Fossil Power
Generation Division in Mülheim an der Ruhr,
Germany, metals die a slow death. Weights
drag relentlessly at rods made of new alloys,
while material fatigue and corrosion race at
time-lapse speeds. Materials specialist Hans
Hanswillemenke indicates a test behind a plexi-
glass sheet, where a pencil-thin metal rod
clamped at each end glows a dull red. “That will
break in a few days,” he says. The experiment
is relentless — and that’s as it should be. After
all, it’s better if the metals fail in the lab than
later, after they’ve been forged to form steam
turbine shafts a meter or more in diameter and
are enduring enormous centrifugal forces and
temperatures of 700 degrees Celsius. This metallic martyrdom is helping engi-
neers prepare for the coal-fired power station of
the future, which should be much more efficient
and use as little fuel as possible in order to keep
atmospheric emissions to a minimum. The need
for action is urgent. On average, the world’s
coal-fired power plants consume 480 grams of
That’s equivalent to a service life of more than
25 years. “We are confident that we can
achieve this goal with 700 degrees,” he says.
“However, we still have to prove it.”
There are good practical reasons why de-
signers are determined to leap from 600 to 700
degrees and 285 to 350 bar pressure. “Above
600 degrees, we have to use new materials
anyway; traditional metals just wouldn’t be
able to withstand the temperatures,” says
Pfitzinger. “And we want to make as much use
as possible of these materials, so we’re going to
go straight to 700 degrees.” The higher pres-
sure is necessary to optimize efficiency. The ob-
jective is to increase efficiency by four percent-
age points over that achieved at 600 degrees,
and to cut coal consumption by six to seven
percent, thus also reducing CO
2 emissions. Exotic Mix.By new materials, Pfitzinger
means nickel alloys, which are a sophisticated
mix of high-strength metals like nickel and
chromium, with only a pinch of iron. Such al-
2015. Such an efficient power plant would
consume only 288 grams of coal per kilowatt-
hour, and thus produce only 669 grams of CO
Such a step would have significant conse-
quences because each percentage point in im-
proved efficiency — if applied to all coal burn-
ing power plants — translates into 260 million
tons less CO
each year . Ordeal by Fire. To achieve this ambitious
goal, turbine materials will have to be able to
survive extraordinary stresses. A glance at any
physics book reveals the principle behind the
heat engine — and that’s exactly what a fossil-
fuel-fired power plant is. It turns out that the
useful energy produced by such plants is deter-
mined by the difference between the tempera-
ture source and the temperature sink. In other
words, the steam entering the turbine should
be as hot as possible and the steam leaving it
as cool as possible. The blades then have the
maximum available energy to convert into ro-
tational energy, which is fed into the generator.
As a result, the steam temperature needs to be
increased from the level currently found in the
best power plants (around 600 degrees Cel-
sius) to 700 degrees Celsius — the temperature
to which the metals are being subjected in the
Mülheim laboratory. Only then will it become
possible to achieve 50 percent efficiency. “Tem-
perature is the key factor,” says Dr. Ernst-Wil-
helm Pfitzinger, the project manager in charge
of developing the 700-degree turbine in Mül-
heim. But as Werner-Holger Heine, head of
Product Line Management for Steam Turbines,
is only too aware, the situation is complex. For
a steam turbine, customers demand a working
lifetime of at least 200,000 hours, he says.
coal to produce a kilowatt-hour of electricity. In
doing so, they release between 1,000 and
1,200 grams of CO
into the air, or some eight
billion tons a year. One of the most efficient
coal-fired power plants in the world, the Block
Waigaoqiao III in China, for which Siemens de-
livered two 1,000-megawatt turbines, burns
only 320 grams of coal per kilowatt-hour, and
thus emits only 761 grams of CO
In a project led by Trianel Power-Projektge-
sellschaft, Siemens is building a comparable
power plant for a consortium of 27 city utilities
on a site at Lünen in northern Germany. The
plant is scheduled to go into operation by
2012. However, with an efficiency of around
46 percent, these power plants are not good
enough for Siemens Fossil Power Generation
Division and the power plant operators. Their
aim is to achieve 50 percent efficiency by
loys are expensive. After processing — a
painstaking process — they cost five to ten
times as much as the chromium steel used to-
day. That’s not exactly peanuts in a turbine re-
quiring some 200 tons of the metal alloys. To reduce material costs, the turbine need
not be made entirely of nickel alloy, but instead
can be composed of different alloys depending
on the temperatures different areas are sub-
jected to. For example, the inner and outer
housings are to be thermally separated by a
layer of cooler steam, so that normal steel will
be adequate for the outside, which will have to
withstand a temperature of 550 degrees. In ad-
dition, the meter-thick shaft can be forged in
several pieces, with the nickel alloy only being
employed in the hottest area. But even this concept creates new chal-
lenges, including how to deal with different
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008 8180 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008
Energy Efficiency
| Steam Turbine Materials Turbines that Dwarf other Engines
You might think that the new Airbus A380
is relatively large. Take its engine, for example,
which has a rotor diameter of almost three me-
ters and is 4.5 meters in length, making it the
biggest in the world. But at Siemens’ steam tur-
bine and generator factory in Mülheim an der
Ruhr, you would scarcely notice the mighty
A380 engines. Housings belonging to steam
turbines twice that size are awaiting assembly
here. Close by is a giant wheel that might look
like the compressor blades of an airplane engine
but is disproportionately larger. Covering 30
square meters, the turbine blade has a diameter
of 6.7 meters. At 320 tons total weight, the
complete rotor is the largest and heaviest in the
world (picture above on this page). The finished
steam-turbine set is destined for power genera-
tion in a European pressurized water reactor
(EPR) that is being built by Areva NP, a company
in which Siemens has a minority share of 34
percent, in Olkiluoto, Finland. The project con-
sortium also includes the Siemens Energy Fossil Division (for conventional plant components). The
complete steam-turbine set tips the scales at over 5,000 tons and boasts a world-record output of
1,600 megawatts. Demands on heat resistance, however, are not as high as in 600-degree or 700-
degree power plants. That’s because at temperatures of no more than 300 degrees Celsius the satu-
rated steam from an EPR is much cooler than the steam in a coal-fired power plant, while, at 70 bar,
the pressure is much lower too. However, the centrifugal force at the 340 kg blades reaches around
1,500 tons at 1,500 rpm. Combined-cycle plants, in which the exhaust heat from a gas turbine
generates steam for several other turbines, are not far behind. Siemens is currently building the
largest combined-cycle power plant in the world in Irsching in Upper Bavaria. With an efficiency of
over 60 percent, it is also the most efficient (p. 73). The steam in the plant’s low-pressure turbine
cools down to under 30 degrees Celsius and in doing so takes up such a large volume that the last
two rows of blades, which are made of titanium, need to have a cross- sectional area of 16 square
meters each (above). That too is a world record for so-called high-speed steam turbine sets, which
turn at the remarkable speed of 3,000 rpm. heat expansion coefficients. In addition, the
necessary casting, forging, milling, and testing
methods for manufacturing and processing the
heat-resistant material have yet to be devel-
oped — at least for steam turbine components
weighing several tons. The production process used for gas tur-
bines, where the use of nickel alloys has long
been standard, doesn’t help here. “We can’t
simply copy the process,” says Pfitzinger. Gas
turbines are delicate in comparison to coal tur-
bines and can be built using completely differ-
ent techniques. What’s more, although at over
1,400 degrees their temperatures are very
high, their pressures are comparatively low, at
around 20 bar. To jump from 600 to 700 degrees is no
small achievement. In fact, no individual man-
The first 700-degree power plant will cost around
€1 billion, but will cut CO
emissions significantly.
Twice as big as an Airbus A380 turbine, the
steam-turbine rotor being manufactured in
Siemens’ Mülheim an der Ruhr factory is the
biggest and heaviest in the world.
1,115 g CO
480 g coal/kWh
Global average
EU-wide average
available today
880 g CO
379 g coal/kWh
727 g CO
313 g coal/kWh
669 g CO
288 g coal/kWh
Specific CO
2 emissions [g CO
/kWh]* Specific coal consumption [g coal/kWh]*
Mean data for coal-fired power plants (source: VGB)
related to a median calorific value of 25 MJ/kg
Lünen coal-fired plant
Net efficiency: 30 %
38 % 50 %
Steam power
plant with
700 °C tech -
nology (2014)
The problem of naming such power plants
will certainly be easier than developing their
technologies. Because water converts directly
into steam at pressures of over 221 bar, design-
ers characterized modern power plants as
“over-critical” in line with this physical phenom-
enon. That not only sounds unnecessarily
threatening; it also requires some mental acro-
batics in terms of finding names. At temperatures from 600 to 620 degrees
Celsius engineers refer to “ultra-supercritical.”
For the 700-degree class, there is no designa-
tion yet — let alone for anything beyond that.
But Heine isn’t interested in the next name
combination of “hyper,” “ultra” or “super.” “At
present, plants with temperatures of 760 or
even 800 degrees are in the realm of fantasy,“
he says.Bernd Müller
ufacturer could handle this task alone — which
is why producers, plant manufacturers, and en-
ergy suppliers have formed a number of con-
sortia, within which they are developing the
700-degree technology. These include:
COMTES700. A “Component Test Facility for
a 700°C Power Plant” is supported by the Euro-
pean Union. The European Association of Po-
wer and Heat Generators (VGB Power Tech) is
coordinating a dozen international project
partners, including Siemens. From 2005 until
2009, the 30-year-old F Block at the E.ON coal-
fired Scholven power plant in Gelsenkirchen,
Germany was in operation using components
NRWPP700. The “North Rhine-Westphalia
700°C Power Plant” is a pre-engineering study
by ten European energy suppliers, in which no-
thing is being built or tested. Instead, the focus
is on technical design concepts for the boiler,
pipe work, and other components of a 500-me-
gawatt power plant. The feasibility of their
transfer to commercial coal and lignite-fired
plants of the 1,000-megawatt-class is also
being evaluated. 50plus. Based on the results of preliminary
projects, E.ON wants to put the first "real" 700-
degree power plant into operation in Wilhelms-
haven in 2014. To achieve at least 50 percent
also developing a process for the separation of
downstream from conventional power
plants. In the future, it will be possible to fit ex-
isting and new power plants with this technol-
ogy. The development of more efficient coal-
fired power plants could thus become an
exciting race between different concepts. In
any event, Siemens will be part of it.
And what does the future hold in store?
“That depends not only on technological devel-
opments, but also on political decisions and
legislation,” says Balling. “That’s because the
development and realization of innovative CO
concepts need support.” that could one day be used in a 700-degree po-
wer plant. These included a test boiler, main
steam lines, and other components operated at
temperatures of 700 degrees Celsius, including
a nickel alloy turbine valve made by Siemens.
The old turbine was not affected by any of this.
efficiency, E.ON plans to preheat the combus-
tion air and use seawater, which cools more ef-
fectively, for cooling — hence the location of
the plant in a coastal city. Construction of the
500-megawatt block is expected to start in
Emissions in Coal-Fired Power Plants
As efficiency increases, coal consumption drops and carbon dioxide emissions decline.
After passing through the test section, the
steam cooled to 520 degrees Celsius to avoid
potential damage. Says Siemens turbine expert
Dr. Holger Kirchner, “The inspection of the val-
ve was very positive.” The results of the test will
be analyzed by 2011.
But 700-degree power plants are not yet an
economical proposition. Today, a power plant
in the 600-degree Celsius/800-megawatt class
costs over €1,700 per kilowatt. 50plus will cost
€1 billion, which will drive costs up to €2,000
per installed kilowatt. 50plus has therefore
been essentially designed as a demonstration
plant for future series-produced power sta-
tions. "When things get uneconomical, cus-
tomers are no longer interested," says Heine.
But considering the increasing costs of raw ma-
terials and CO
2 levies, savings will be possible
due to the plant’s improved efficiency, even al-
lowing for the 10 to 15 percent higher costs of
a series-produced 700-degree power plant. Competing Concepts. The new 700° technol-
ogy will compete with other technologies, such
as IGCC power plants, in which coal and other
fuels, such as oil and asphalt, are converted
into syngas and fed into a gas and steam-tur-
bine power plant (Pictures of the Future, Spring
2007, p.91). “Today, with modern gas turbines,
we achieve efficiency levels of up to 46 per-
cent,” says Lothar Balling, head of the Steam
Power Plants and Emerging Plant Solutions unit
at Siemens’ Fossil Power Generation Division in
Erlangen. “By 2020 improvements will enable
efficiencies of up to 51 percent without CO
separation with our H-class gas turbines.” Several IGCC plants are already in operation,
including coal gasification plants in refineries,
which produce hydrogen-rich syngas for chem-
ical processes. Economically speaking, the IGCC
power plants that Siemens is developing for
power generation purposes are still at a disad-
vantage compared with conventional coal-fired
power plants. IGCC can, however, become real-
ly competitive if CO
is made to play an eco-
nomic role, for example through the introduc-
tion of a CO
2 tax or use of the gas in old oil
fields to further improve their yield. The tech-
nology of CO
separation from syngas down-
stream of a gasification unit already exists and
is used in the petrochemicals industry. This
technology allows CO
2 emissions to be reduced
by over 85 percent to under 100 grams per
kilowatt-hour. Together with E.ON, Siemens is
46 %**
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008 83
Energy Efficiency
| CO
82 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008
Siemens scientists at the company’s test plant in Freiberg, Germany (below), are developing coal gasifiers (right) and investigating how different
types of coal behave during the gasification process.
oal is currently experiencing a real boom.
That’s because the Earth's population and
its hunger for energy are growing fast, and
many countries have their own substantial re-
serves of coal. This makes them independent
of other sources of energy, in particular petro-
leum and natural gas. The drawback to this de-
velopment is evident, however, as CO
sions per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated
at coal-fired power stations are almost twice as
high as those from natural gas-fired combined
cycle plants. Still, the world economy cannot
do without coal. More than 41 percent of the
world's electricity is generated today at coal-
fired power stations; in China, that figure is
over 80 percent. In 2006 alone, 174 coal-fired
power stations in the 500-megawatt class went
on line in China. According to estimates by
Siemens, the share of worldwide electricity
generation accounted for by coal will decrease
from 41 percent to 32 percent between now
and 2030 as a result of the sharply expanding
use of renewable energy sources. Neverthe-
With the oxyfuel concept, coal or natural
gas is burned with pure oxygen rather than
with air, as is the case in conventional steam
power plants. This prevents large amounts of
nitrogen, which makes up three quarters of the
volume of atmospheric air, from being need-
lessly added to the process and then forming
nitrogen oxides during combustion. The flue
gas thus produced is composed mostly of car-
bon dioxide and water vapor, whereby the CO
is separated through condensation. Proven IGCC technology.Siemens has been
focusing on the first two methods — i.e. pre
and post-combustion capture. “There are big
differences in the current stage of technologi-
cal development of the three methods,” says
Dr. Christiane Schmid from the Business Devel-
opment department at Siemens Fuel Gasifica-
tion Technology GmbH in Freiberg, which is
part of Siemens’ Fossil Power Generation Divi-
situation remains unclear for our customers,
since it’s difficult to project just how expensive
IGCC with CO
separation will actually be.” On
account of all these uncertainties, it will proba-
bly be several years before the first IGCC power
station with a CO
separation unit is built.
The key components of IGCC plants are the
gasifier and the gas turbine, according to
Schuld. Both of these components are part of
the Siemens portfolio, whereby gasifier tech-
nology was added in mid-2006, when Siemens
acquired what is today known as Siemens Fuel
Gasification Technology GmbH in Freiberg near
Dresden. Up until 1990, that organization was
part of the Deutsches Brennstoffinstitut (Ger-
man Fuel Institute). Freiberg is located in what
is therefore particularly high from customers in
these countries.”
The extent of this competitive edge becomes
even clearer when we look at the service life of
an IGCC power station. “If a customer decides
on a gasification plant, it means they’ve incor-
porated into their calculations the associated
operating costs over a 20 to 25-year period,”
says Schuld. “However, a fixed-price delivery
contract for coal can only be secured nowadays
for a limited number of years. So, where the
coal will later come from, what type it will be,
and what it will cost are things no one can pre-
dict in advance. However, with our technology
the customer remains on the safe side through-
out the entire plant lifespan, because he can
The first IGCC coal-fired power plants with integrated
separation are due to enter service in 2012.
Capturing Carbon Dioxide
Coal will remain a cornerstone of the energy supply all over the world for a long time to
come. New technologies are expected to free power station flue gases of the greenhouse
gas carbon dioxide — thus making a vital contribution to environmental protection.
less, the absolute amount of electricity gener-
ated with coal during this period will actually
increase from 8,300 terawatt-hours (TWh) to-
day to 10,500 TWh. That makes it even more essential for power
plant construction companies and energy utili-
ties to design and operate coal-fired power sta-
tions as cleanly as possible. A tremendous ef-
fort has been undertaken worldwide for some
years now to introduce carbon capture and
storage (CCS) technology. Depending on the
type of power plant, there are three distinct
methods for separating CO
when burning coal
to generate electricity: coal gasification in IGCC plants (IGCC stands
for Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle)
with separation before combustion (pre-com-
bustion capture); separation of CO
from flue gas downstream
from a conventional steam power plant (post-
combustion capture); and the oxyfuel process for steam power
sion (see box on p. 84 for more information on
IGCC). “IGCC technology is the only method
that’s been sufficiently tested, and there are al-
ready plenty of practical examples from the gas
processing industry of CO
separation from
synthesis gas.” As early as the 1990s, IGCC
power stations were built in Puertollano, Spain,
and Buggenum, the Netherlands, for which
Siemens supplied the power plant components
and managed the integration of the facilities.
“These plants all demonstrate the feasibility of
the IGCC concept,” explains Schmid, a process
technology expert. “However, in those days
separation wasn't even on the agenda."
The reasons for the current lack of any
large-scale low-CO
power plants in operation
are many and varied. Guido Schuld, managing
director of Siemens Fuel Gasification Technolo-
gy GmbH, explains: “There are no firm legal or
political structures in place, especially with re-
gard to the storage of CO
. In addition, the cost
used to be the German Democratic Republic,
whose government authorized the develop-
ment of the so-called dry feeding system in the
1970s in order to be able to utilize lignite from
the Lusatia region. Although the authorities
didn’t know this at the time, it turns out that
the technique offers major competitive advan-
tages. That’s because the process enables al-
most any type of coal to be used for gasifica-
tion. Alternatively, coal can be injected into a
gasifier in a watery emulsion, which means the
crushed fuel first has to be mixed with water.
“This technology is suitable for expensive an-
thracite and hard coal, but not at all for lignite
or other types of coal with low calorific values,
for example,” Schuld explains. “But it’s precisely
these low-grade types of coal that are available
in large quantities in emerging markets such as
China and India, as well as in America and Aus-
tralia. Demand for Siemens gasifier technology
use a wide range of the coal available in the
world and purchase it as needed in accordance
with prevailing prices.”
Retrofitting for CO
scrubbing.Whereas pre-
combustion capture in IGCC plants is outstand-
ingly suited to new facilities, the third technical
approach — post-combustion capture — can
also be used in existing power stations. In this
process, CO
is removed from the flue gases af-
ter combustion. “This CO
scrubbing is the only
retrofit option over the medium term for sepa-
rating CO
in existing power stations,” says Dr.
Rüdiger Schneider, section manager for power
plant chemical processes in the Fossil Power
Generation Division. In this case, approximately 90 percent of
the CO
in the flue gas binds at low tempera-
tures to a special CO
cleansing agent in an ab-
sorber, and is thus removed. “We then feed the
-laden detergent into a desorber and free it
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008 85
| CO
In Ketzin, Germany, scientists plan to pump 90,000 tons of CO
into the earth. Geologists have
drilled holes 700 meters into the rock and installed
numerous measuring probes. Testing Eternal
Emissions from coal-fired power plants must become
cleaner —
which means removing their carbon dioxide
content. The best place to store this greenhouse gas
permanently is deep underground. That’s exactly what
is happening at a test facility near Potsdam, Germany. I
t’s raining in Ketzin. A drill tower rises up to-
ward the dark clouds; a few gas tanks and a
plain shack stand in a green meadow in the
middle of the Havelland district, a half-hour
west of Potsdam. Professor Frank Schilling from
the research facility GeoForschungsZentrum
Potsdam (GFZ) points down into a mud-filled
hole from which a pipe as wide as a man pro-
trudes. A tangle of cables can be seen inside it.
“Here’s where we measure the spread of car-
bon dioxide underground,” says Schilling, who
is a mineralogist. At the other end of the mead-
ow, a second hole plunges down, this one also
filled with a mass of cables, and 100 meters
away there is a third hole. At the latter, pipes
from a tank run into the damp soil. Seven hun-
dred meters under Schilling’s feet, these pipes
will pump up to four tons of carbon dioxide per
hour into the sandstone at high pressure, thus
displacing salt water from pores in the rock. The GFZ project near Ketzin, population
4,000, is called CO
SINK. Since June 2008, up
to 30,000 tons of CO
per year have been
pumped into the earth. Considering its three-
year life span, the project is expected to se-
quester about 90,000 tons of CO
— roughly as
much as the 150,000 residents of Potsdam will
exhale during the same period. But that’s noth-
ing compared to the more than 10 billion tons
of this greenhouse gas that are expelled into
the atmosphere each year through power plant
smokestacks. And the problem will grow more
acute, judging from the forecasts of the Inter-
national Energy Agency (IEA) and Siemens,
which indicate that fossil fuels will account for
one third of the increase in power production
over the next 20 years (see p. 59). In fact, coal
demand is expected not to decrease, but to rise
by 27 percent. China, for example, put 174
coal-fired power plants in the 500-megawatt
class into operation in 2006 alone, which cor-
responds to the commissioning of one plant
every two days (see p. 28). Underground Disposal. In view of these de-
velopments, CO
SINK could, in spite of its mod-
est scope, provide important answers to basic
unresolved questions regarding CO
tion and therefore contribute significantly to
environmental protection. If the measurements
in Ketzin confirm the models, which predict that
the gas can be securely confined underground
in porous rock for thousands if not millions of
years, the project would send an important sig-
nal worldwide. It would prove that CO
coal-fired power plants, refineries, cement fac-
tories, and steel mills can be pumped into the
earth and stored there. And if the gas isn’t emit-
ted into the air, it can’t harm the climate. More-
over, there is an abundance of room under-
Pilot Plant Captures Carbon Dioxide
In September 2009, Siemens and E.ON launched a pilot carbon dioxide (CO
) capture facility. Lo-
cated at the Staudinger coal-fired power plant near Hanau, Germany, the facility removes around
90 percent of the CO
from a part of the flue gases emitted by the plant. Thanks to a special scrub-
bing process from Siemens, the separation process consumes relatively little energy and does not
negatively impact the environment. This is due to the fact that experts at Siemens Energy chose a
detergent that lowers energy consumption, and optimized many process parameters. The result is
a CO
scrubbing process that costs only 9.2 percentage points in terms of efficiency, which means
it consumes far less energy than previous procedures, whose efficiency costs total more than ten
percentage points.
The detergent used is also very stable, which means that it hardly reacts with trace substances in
the flue gas. As a result, it is almost fully retained in the cycle — that is, it does not escape with the residual gas, as is the case with many other detergent substances. The pilot facility is testing
the technology under real-life power plant conditions. Among the factors being examined are the
detergent’s long-term chemical stability and the effectiveness of the process. In addition, the re-
searchers aim to further reduce energy consumption.
84 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008
Energy Efficiency
| CO
IGCC with CO
In the IGCC process, the conversion of coal into power can be combined with upstream CO
ration. First, the coal is converted into a combustible raw gas in a gasifier under pressure and at
high temperatures of 1,400 to 1,800 degrees Celsius. The gas, whose primary constituents are car-
bon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H
), is then coarsely cleaned, after which the carbon monoxide
is converted into CO
and H
in a shift reactor with the help of water vapor. Next, sulfur com-
pounds and CO
are separated out with the help of a chemical or physical scrubbing process. The
is then compressed and transported to a storage site. Separation rates of up to 95 percent are
projected for this technique. All the remaining hydrogen is burned in the gas turbine, which is at-
tached to an electrical generator. Siemens now has over 400,000 operating hours’ worth of experi-
ence in the combustion of hydrogen-rich fuel gases at various commercial power plants. The hot
flue gases, especially atmospheric nitrogen and water vapor, are also used for steam generation. In
a manner similar to what occurs in a conventional combined cycle power station, the steam drives
a steam turbine and a second electricity generator.
of the greenhouse gas by raising the tempera-
ture, after which the regenerated detergent is
fed back into the absorber,” Schneider explains.
“After that, the cycle begins anew.” For the past three years, Schneider and his
team have been working extensively in a labo-
ratory at Frankfurt Höchst Industrial Park on
detergents that bind CO
particularly well
and release it again when temperatures are
raised. “We can conduct good analyses of all
the individual aspects of CO
scrubbing in our
lab,” says Schneider. “As a result, our new
chemical CO
scrubbing technique loses less
detergent into the flue gas and also requires
less energy than previous methods.” Heading for Large-Scale Applications.In
order to make fossil fuel-fired power plants
more climate-friendly as quickly as possible,
energy supplier E.ON joined forces with
Siemens to put a pilot facility for CO
tion into operation at the Staudinger coal-fired
plant near Hanau in September 2009 (see box).
“The challenge is to maintain a high level of ef-
ficiency and avoid negative environmental in-
fluences, which might arise from traces of
harmful detergent emissions in the scrubbed
flue gases,” Schneider explains. “Our objective
is to develop the new CO
separation process to
the point where it’s ready for large-scale com-
mercial applications by 2020.” Thanks to oxyfuel and pre and post-com-
bustion capture, technologies will be available
within the next decade that will allow us to
burn coal without having to have a guilty envi-
ronmental conscience. Ulrike Zechbauer
Raw gas: CO, H
, etc.
to store
Combined cycle
power plant
testing laboratory in Frankfurt. Here, Siemens
experts investigate CO
separation from flue gas.
The CO
is bound to an absorber (right) by a special
scrubbing agent and thus removed.
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2007 87
Prof. Reinhard Hüttl,
52, is the scientific director of the Geo-
Forschungs-Zentrum in
Potsdam, the German
Research Center for Geo-
sciences. A geo scientist,
Hüttl formerly worked as an environmental expert in the Council of
Advisers of the German
Federal Government. Interview conducted in Spring, 2007.
Sequestration: A Key
Transitional Technology
Is underground sequestration of carbon
dioxide the solution to the climate-
change problem?
We have to look at things realistically.
Even if CO
SINK works as planned, the process
chain of removal, transport, injection, and
monitoring involves a great deal of effort and
is still very expensive. Also, coal-fired power
plants with CO
removal lose a considerable
amount of efficiency, which must be compen-
sated for with more fuel or new technologies
to increase efficiency. So CO
sequestration is
a transitional technology. But we can’t do with-
out it if we want to act responsibly, because
most of our power will continue to come from
amount naturally generated in the same period
by bacteria through degradation processes in
the soil in the area above the CO
reservoir in
Ketzin. Ideal CO
reservoirs exist wherever gases or
liquids have long accumulated underground.
That basically means all petroleum and natural
gas deposits, which have manifestly been
sealed for millions of years. Some oil and gas
producers already pump CO
back into such de-
posits in order to raise the yield through in-
creased pressure. There are three industrial-
scale showpiece projects in Canada, Algeria,
and Norway. StatoilHydro of Norway, for in-
stance, has the most experience here. Since
1996 it has pumped ten million tons of CO
down to a depth of 1,000 meters beneath the
North Sea. The CO
is an impurity that is ex-
tracted with the natural gas. But it would cost
StatoilHydro dearly to vent it, as Norway levies
a tax of $50 on each ton of CO
. Toward Affordable Sequestration. The IPCC
report calculates the cost of CO
capture by
power plants and its transportation
and sequestration to be 20 to 70 dollars per
ton. That’s worth the price in Norway, but in
countries without a CO
tax other market
mechanisms must come into play. In Europe,
the certificates in the emissions trading system
provided for by the Kyoto Protocol currently
cost less than 15 dollars — not enough to cre-
ate an incentive. But in the event of a state sub-
sidy or a CO
tax of two to three U.S. cents per
kilowatt-hour, the technology would pay for it-
self, although the cost of electricity would in-
crease by 20 percent. Siemens is helping to fund the CO
project and participating as an observer. “CO
sequestration won’t be one of our core areas of
expertise,” says Günther Haupt of Siemens’
Fossil Power Generation division. But since the
construction of coal-fired power plants is an
important part of Siemens’ business and de-
pends on a solution to the CO
problem, the
company will be involved. Siemens will also play an active role in cases
where hardware does not yet exist, as in the
Adecos project, which is developing an oxyfuel
power plant with CO
removal with support
from the German government. Here, Siemens
is designing compressors for the CO
that will
force it underground as a gas — but with the
density of a liquid. These compressors have applications in multiple fields, since they also
compress CO
from pre- and post-combustion
processes. “So far, CO
compressors of this kind
haven’t been customized for large power
plants,” says Haupt. Bernd Müller
fossil fuels in the foreseeable future. Our proj-
ect is therefore an important building block for
a more environmentally compatible method of
energy production for the coming decades.
The process is already of interest for increasing
yields during petroleum and natural gas ex-
traction. Will the Ketzin project come to an end af-
ter 60,000 tons of CO
have been stored?
I don’t think so. In Ketzin we can still
learn a lot about CO
sequestration and the
short, medium, and long-term behavior of CO
underground. The Ketzin test site is ideal for
more experiments, for instance for storing the
world’s first CO
from a coal-fired power plant
and for the underground sequestration of CO
separated from biomass during gas produc-
tion. We also have plans for other projects in
Germany and abroad.
How has the public responded to the project?
Many people, especially in Germany,
are skeptical of new industrial-scale technolo-
gies. But in Ketzin there used to be an under-
ground natural gas storage reservoir at the
same spot and people are used to that idea, so
we haven’t had a problem with acceptance of
this project. And of course CO
isn’t poisonous
or radioactive. If it does escape at some point,
which we don’t expect, we’ll see that with our
monitoring system and, if necessary, we’ll be
able to just blow it away in the air.
Interview conducted by Bernd Müller.
| Interview Hüttl
86 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008
Energy Efficiency
| CO
ground for carbon dioxide. The capacity for CO
sequestration in Germany alone is estimated at
30 billion tons. That’s enough for about a hun-
dred years at the current rate of CO
from German coal-fired power plants — about
350 million tons. The Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC) of the U.N., a scien-
tific intergovernmental body, which won the
Nobel Prize in 2007, estimates global seques-
tration capacity to be up to 900 billion tons in
oil and gas deposits and at least 1,000, possibly
even 10,000 billion tons in saline aquifers,
which are sandstone deposits saturated with
salt water, like those found in Ketzin. These po-
tential sequestration sites around the world are
also often found near large CO
where liquefied CO
can be easily transported
in pipes to storage depots. This is the case not
only in Brandenburg, but also in the U.S. state
of Illinois, where a prototype CO
-free power
plant is being tested in the Future-Gen project.
The dream of a coal-fired power plant with a di-
rect exhaust line into the subterranean rock
could become a reality in many places around
the world if policymakers quickly lay the
groundwork and research efforts are intensi-
fied. Studies show that CO
remains under-
ground for an extremely long time. It will dis-
solve there in saline aquifers, much as it dis-
solves in mineral water when pumped by a CO
carbonator, and will then be retained in the
pores of the sandstone. Over time, more and
more of it will precipitate as a mineral com-
pound and thus be kept out of the atmosphere
forever. It is known that after thousands of
years calcium carbonate is produced, as well as
other carbonates such as magnesite and
siderite. Verifying the underlying models and
furnishing proof of whether and how CO
be reliably sequestrated over the long term are
among the central aims of the CO
SINK project.
Underground Laboratory. One essential task
of CO
SINK is therefore to monitor the three-di-
mensional propagation of CO
in rock and draw
conclusions applicable to commercial CO
questration at other locations. No other project
anywhere is going to such great lengths to
gather measurements in this respect: In the project’s two measuring pipes, which
are 50 and 100 meters away from the pipe car-
rying the gas, chains of electrodes measure
electrical resistance in the rock. This array of
electrodes is supplemented by electrodes at
the surface. Concentrated salt water in the po-
res of the sandstone conducts the electrical
current very well. When the water is displaced
by CO
2 , conductivity decreases and resistance
increases. Thanks to this geoelectric tomogra-
phy, the gas can be monitored in great detail in
three dimensions as it spreads. The project team is also carrying out experi-
ments modeled on medical ultrasound. Here,
intense sound waves are transmitted into the
ground from the surface between the boreho-
les and reflected back. Since sound has a lower
velocity in pores filled with CO
than in those
filled with salt water, the spread of the gas can
be monitored this way as well. Optical sensors measure temperature chan-
ges underground through the scattering of
photons and thereby show the flow of CO
low the surface. In the area of the reservoir
around the bores there are narrow tubes with a
semi-permeable membrane through which
can pass. High-purity argon forces the CO
upward through capillary tubes to the surface,
where its concentration is measured. Whatever the results of the measurements,
one thing is certain, says Frank Schilling: “Prac-
tically nothing travels upward through the
rock.” The reason for this is the cap layer of
gypsum and clay that lies like a bowl over the
approximately nine-square-kilometer dome of
sandstone and completely seals it. It served the
same purpose over the past forty years, when
power companies used a sandstone layer here
at a depth of between 250 and 400 meters to
store natural gas. This repository was signifi-
cantly larger than the planned CO
reservoir. What would happen if the CO
managed to
escape to the surface? Since the gas is heavier
than air, critics fear that it could collect in pools
where it would suffocate all life. But there’s no
risk of this in Ketzin, says Schilling. Even if it
were to escape, the CO
would be literally gone
with the wind. We breathe it in small quantities all the
time, and drink it in sparkling mineral water
and soft drinks. Besides, the quantity of CO
stored in two years will merely be equal to the
Sequestration under a cap layer
Sequestration in porous strata
Increasingly effective sequestration
Sequestration in water-bearing strata
Sequestration in mineral aggregates
100 %
Percentage of stored CO
Period of time following CO
sequestration (years)
50 %
1 10 100 1000 10,000
Impermeable cap layer
800 m
700 m
Power plant
How Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Works
In Ketzin, CO
is pumped through a pipe into a saline sandstone aquifer that functions
as a reservoir. A second pipe is
used for the transmission of
shock waves, which are detected
by geophones. In addition, the
pipes are outfitted with other
sensors that are designed to
detect the electrical conductivity
and temperature in the aquifer.
This enables detailed monitoring
of the spread of carbon dioxide
far below the surface. Seismic source
Vibration measurement devices (geophones)
Geophones and other sensors
Seismic source
Shock waves
Source: GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 89
New Life for Old Plants
Worldwide, there are hundreds of fossil fuel-fired power plants that could, if modern-
ized, improve their efficiency by 10 or even 15 percent. Such upgrades would reduce
emissions accordingly, which would be a major contribution to climate protection.
The biggest potential lies in North America as well as parts of Europe and Asia.
pace of modernization. “In Europe, power
companies have to convert a lot of older
combined-cycle power plants from base- to
peak-load operation,” says Hendricks, who is
responsible for so-called lifetime management
and thus for power plant upgrades. The reason for the conversions is that Eu-
rope is ramping up use of land-based and off-
shore wind farms. When winds are strong,
these farms generate lots of electricity, which
means conventional plants can scale back out-
put. But when winds die down, the latter have
to be able to reach peak load rapidly to com-
pensate for load fluctuations. The ability to re-
act rapidly not only secures a power company
high prices on the power market; an upgraded
power plant also reaches its operating point
more quickly, which cuts CO
Siemens is a specialist in upgrading steam
turbines, a job that primarily involves replacing
the rotor and the inner casing. The latest in
turbine blade technology and enlarged flow
areas boost the efficiency and performance of
the turbine. In addition, the use of new seals
in high- and intermediate-pressure turbines
reduces clearance losses, which likewise in-
creases efficiency. These measures lengthen
the service life of the turbine, allowing it to
remain in operation for an additional 15 to 20
years. As a rule, Siemens also renews the con-
trol system for the turbine set or the power
plant as a whole (Pictures of the Future, Spring
2009, p. 27). According to Dr. Norbert Henkel,
responsible at Siemens for the modernization
of fossil-fuel and nuclear power plants, it costs
between €20 million and €60 million to com-
prehensively upgrade a steam turbine system
for a medium-sized power plant. “By modern-
Upgrading and new control systems (bottom right)
can boost a steam turbine’s efficiency substantially.
At EnBW’s cogeneration plant in Alt bach, Germany,
Siemens improved output by 11 MW.
izing the turbine, we can tease an extra 30 to
40 megawatts out of the plant. As a result, the
initial capital expenditure is amortized within
just a few years,” he explains. Power generator Energie Baden-Württem-
berg (EnBW), for example, has invested
around €30 million on upgrading its cogenera-
tion plant in Altbach, near Stuttgart, a meas-
ure that will keep it in action for the next 30
years. Siemens renewed the plant’s control
systems and upgraded its steam turbine, re-
placing the blades and seals, which has made
ccording to Dr. Oliver Geden, an expert for
EU climate policy at the German Institute
for International and Security Affairs in Berlin,
effective climate protection begins when
“many people consume in an environmentally
sustainable way, without having to think twice
about what they’re doing.” For this to happen,
says Geden, it will take huge structural
changes in how we generate and consume
electricity, including expanded use of renew-
able energy, and more efficient conventional
power plants. Significant progress has already been made
in the construction of new power plants. Over
the period from 1992 to the present, the effi-
ciency of the latest coal-fired power plants in
the industrialized West has risen from 42 to 47
percent. This amounts to a huge advance in cli -
mate protection. For instance, for a 700-mega -
watt (MW) generating unit, an increase in effi-
ciency of five percentage points translates into
a reduction in annual CO
emissions of around
500,000 metric tons. This is particularly impor-
tant for China, where, according to the Inter-
national Energy Agency, one new coal-fired
power plant with an efficiency of over 44 per-
cent enters commercial service ev e ry month. 88 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
When it comes to upgrading existing power
plants, however, there is still massive un-
tapped potential, both in economic and envi-
ronmental terms. The average efficiency of Eu-
rope’s coal-fired power plants is a mere 37 to
38 percent. Only about one in 10 plants tops
the 40 percent mark. That’s hardly surprising,
given that steam turbines in Europe are, on
average, almost 29 years old. Gas turbines, on
the other hand, are usually of a more recent
vintage, with an average age of just under 12
years. Nevertheless, the German Association
of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) esti-
mates that around one-quarter of Germany’s
power plants will need to be modernized in
the immediate future. As Ralf Hendricks from Siemens Energy
explains, the increasing exploitation of alter-
native energy sources is also accelerating the
Energy Efficiency
| Power Plant Upgrades
it more efficient and boosted its output by 11
MW. The entire outer casing could be retained.
With around 4,000 operating hours at full load
per year, the plant has benefitted from the up-
grade with a reduction in its annual CO
sions of 50,000 metric tons. As a result, the
plant is now classified as one of EnBW’s
“green” facilities and may, if required, rack up
additional operating hours.
North America’s power plants are even old-
er than Europe’s, with an average of 34 years
for steam turbines in the U.S. and Canada, and
17 years for gas turbines. Siemens is involved
in a number of major upgrades in this area.
Some of these cover more than just the tur-
bines, with the company currently contracted
to renew the complete control system for a
number of plants, including a coal-fired facility
in Carneys Point, New Jersey, a combined-cy-
cle plant in Redding, California, and combined-
cycle installations in Syracuse and Beaver-Falls,
New York, all of which are being fitted with
the SPPA-T3000 web-based instrumentation
and control system. This system integrates the
power plant and turbine control functions in a
common, easy-to-use platform. For the opera-
tors of Carneys Point, for example, this will
provide greater flexibility to tailor operation of
the individual generating units to actual de-
mand, along with greater reliability and re-
duced maintenance costs. onward, when CO
emission certificates in this
sector will all be auctioned. Power companies will therefore have to pay
for a percentage of their CO
through the purchase of emission certificates.
An exception, however, has been made for
many Central and Eastern European countries,
giving them until 2020 to catch up. During this time, the most efficient power plants will
set the benchmark there too. Power plants
meeting this standard will receive emission
permits free of charge. Emissions trading will
thus ensure that old power plants become in-
creasingly unprofitable. And once the last inef-
ficient plant has been decommissioned, each
electricity consumer will have become a little
bit easier on the environment — without even
thinking about it. Katrin Nikolaus Boosting Output by 100 MW. In contrast to
fossil-fired power plants, many of which were
commissioned over the last few decades, most
of the world’s nuclear plants date from the
1970s and 1980s. “The conventional compo-
nents of these plants, including the turbines,
all need upgrading at around the same time,”
Henkel explains. Whereas most of the nuclear
facilities in Germany have been almost com-
pletely updated over the past 10 to 15 years,
many of the plants in France, the U.S., and
Japan are still in need of modernization. In
2008, Siemens was awarded the Asian Power
Award for its upgrading of the Sendai nuclear
power plant in Japan. Following moderniza-
tion of the control systems and the three tur-
bines, the output of the plant rose by 40.5 MW
to 942 MW. At present, in a contract awarded
by Florida Power and Light (FPL), Siemens is
overhauling the generator and renewing a
high-pressure turbine and two low-pressure
turbines at the St. Lucie nuclear plant in Flori-
da. This will increase the output of each of the
two reactors by 100 MW. In addition, Siemens
is installing new high-pressure turbines and
modernizing the generator at FPL’s Turkey
Point nuclear plant, which will boost its output
by around 100 MW. With the exception of
France, which generates the lion’s share of its
power using nuclear plants, the energy mix in
Europe still includes a major share of coal. This
applies particularly to Central European coun-
tries, including Poland, which meets over 90
percent of its power needs from coal. At the same time, these countries have the
least-efficient power plants. In Europe, there
are over 500 steam turbine plants that are old-
er than 25 years and in urgent need of mod-
ernization. This figure includes all the aging
plants in Central Europe and is unrivaled any-
where else in the world. In India, for example,
where industrialization came much later, there
are fewer than 50 plants of a similar vintage.
China, on the other hand, still has a lot of coal-
fired power plants rated at efficiency levels of
between 26 and 30 percent. To cover the rap-
idly-growing demand for electricity from in-
dustry and households, China is currently
building a raft of new power plants, 60 per-
cent of which are ultramodern facilities.
According to the IEA, China has been able
to radically reduce construction costs for such
plants, which feature extremely heat-resistant
steam turbines, by building a large number of
them at the same time and thus exploiting the
effects of standardization. China, which tends
to close unprofitable power plants rather than
upgrade them, has been decommissioning
around 50 GW of older fossil generating capac-
ity since 1997 — a process that is due to be
completed by 2010.
Rewarding Efficiency. Back in Europe, pow-
er companies in the western member states
are rapidly upgrading their facilities. In this
sector, climate protection is still largely a cor-
porate affair. Unlike its stance on the automo-
bile industry, the European Union is prepared
to let market forces, rather than regulation,
bring about power plant modernization. That
said, climate expert Geden foresees a major
upheaval in the power plant market from 2013
In Europe, there are over 500 steam turbine plants that
now require modernization — in India, less than 50. Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 91
The heat from a coking plant can power a steam turbine
that generates enough electricity for 30,000 households.
heating, for example, or for generating elec-
tricity. A typical CDQ facility from Siemens
with a capacity of one million tons of coke per
year consists of three cooling chambers — two
in full operation and one on “hot stand-by.”
The latter is only charged with about ten per-
cent of its actual quenching capacity and is
ready in case a problem occurs. Quenching is
thus possible at all times, including possible
maintenance periods.
With CDQ, hot coke is cooled to 180 de-
grees Celsius, even as 1,000 degree coke is fed
into the cooling chambers from above. A circu-
lating gas flows in at the bottom of the cooling
chamber and absorbs the heat. The gas, now
at about 800 degrees Celsius, is channeled
with air back into the waste heat water boiler.
Here, more than 500 kilograms of high pres-
sure and high temperature steam can be pro-
duced per ton of coke. Connecting a steam
turbine yields 15 to 17 megawatts of generat-
ing capacity. That’s equivalent to the power
produced by five large wind turbines and ade-
reduce costs and improve environmental pro-
tection. With Selective Waste Gas Recirculation
technologies, for example, waste gas pro-
duced during sintering can be recirculated. In
a sintering plant the ore is baked on a sinter
strand, which is similar to a furnace grate. In
this way, the fine ore is prepared for the blast
furnace. Here, the ore is ignited on the sinter
strand, and wind boxes suction off the waste
operated by the world’s fourth biggest steel
producer, Posco of South Korea.
Siemens VAI has also developed an energy
management system that focuses on a steel
plant’s total energy use with a view to cutting
its energy consumption, costs, and emissions.
This involves taking into account the complete
production process — from raw materials to
final steel products. Organized to be modular,
quate for the requirements of about 30,000
four-person households. What’s more, as the
coke in the CDQ process is drier than wet-
quenched coke, less reducing agent is con-
sumed later in the blast furnace.
Modernization not only saves millions in
operating costs — leading to rapid amortiza-
tion — but environmentally-friendly CDQ also
reduces dust and gas emissions to almost zero.
With conventional wet quenching, about 500
grams of dust are emitted into the atmosphere
per ton of coke — frequently much more.
Many CDQ systems from Siemens VAI have
been operating reliably for years — for exam-
ple, at an ArcelorMittal plant in Kraków,
Poland, since 2000. Siemens is currently tak-
ing part in a project run by SAIL, India’s biggest
steel producer, which is building a facility that
is scheduled to open in 2011.
Sintering plants are another area in which
Siemens VAI offers innovative solutions that
least 16 percent and thus high enough for
combustion. After that, the waste gas mixture
flows into a recirculation hood installed above
the sinter strand, from where it is blown back
onto the sinter strand — at the most homoge-
neous possible temperature and pressure. This
measure lowers a sintering plant’s CO
sions by up to ten percent; the entire volume
of waste gas — which includes sulphur diox-
ide, various nitrogen oxides and dust — is re-
duced by 40 percent. Taken together, these
steps reduce fuel requirements and thus costs.
Each ton of sinter requires up to ten percent
less coke and about 20 percent less ignition
gas. An investment in CDQ is thus usually
amortized in under two years. To date, this technology has been used at
three locations worldwide: a plant operated by
Austrian steel producer Voestalpine (in opera-
tion since 2005); a sinter plant operated by
Dragon Steel in Taiwan; and two sinter plants
gases from below. “The ore burns from the top
down, like in a tobacco pipe,” says Andre Ful-
gencio, Product Manager for sintering plants
at Siemens VAI in Linz, Austria.
To allow some of the gas to be recirculated
into the process, it is first fed into a chamber.
Here it is mixed with waste gases from the sin-
ter cooler, to ensure the oxygen content is at
the system can be tailored to the customer’s
specific needs, and can even be integrated
into existing automation technology at very
old facilities. “In the ideal scenario all you need
to do is transfer and configure the software,”
says Franz Hartl, who is responsible for tech -
nical marketing of automation solutions at
Siemens VAI in Linz.
System-wide Savings. As steel mills use a
very large number of processes, it is often also
necessary to install additional measurement
systems, for example to determine levels in
tanks. Key values in terms of energy consump-
tion and distribution can then be recorded
every few seconds. Thanks to Siemens’ energy
prediction and optimization module, the energy
needed for an order can even be predicted on
the basis of production planning, enabling op-
erators to purchase fuels at attractive prices.
“Steel producers who use the prediction func-
tion are superbly equipped for negotiating
prices with their energy suppliers,” says Hartl.
The high degree of transparency of Siemens’
mill overview processes enables operators
to predict and prevent costly load peaks by
initiating load shedding — in other words, by
reducing energy consumption. This can be
achieved by shutting off energy-consuming
equipment like furnaces when they are not
needed. “Flaring” losses — the burning off of
surplus gas, which later must be replaced by
energy purchased at a high price — are mini-
mized. In most cases the savings amount to
about three percent of total energy, which is a
lot of money and emissions. Given energy sav-
ings of only one percent at an annual produc-
tion volume of five million tons of steel, CO
emissions can be reduced by around 100,000
tons per year. Here, an investment in Siemens’
energy-saving solutions can pay for itself very
quickly. In fact, depending on the plant, its
degree of automation and annual tonnage,
the investment can pay off after just a few
months.Stephanie Lackerschmid
Efficiency Catches Fire
The economic crisis is presenting steelmakers with a major challenge. Although most
producers can’t afford costly new plants, they still have to make their production
processes more efficient in order to reduce costs and emissions. Siemens VAI offers
innovative modernization solutions that cut costs and protect the environment.
Efficient Siemens solutions, such as those for blast furnaces (large image) and electric arc furnaces for melting scrap (right), can radically reduce operating costs and emissions. mills consume 20 percent of the energy re-
quired by industry and are responsible for 30
percent of industrial CO
emissions. Energy
consumption alone accounts for about one
third of a steel mill’s operating costs. This
makes it possible to use energy-efficient tech-
nologies to fight both the economic and the
climate crisis. “Environmental protection and
cost savings are not mutually exclusive,” says
Olaus Ritamaki, General Manager at Siemens
VAI in Oulu, Finland. “In contrast, energy-effi-
cient technologies reduce operating costs and
ease the strain on the environment.
Red Hot Results. Among the biggest sources
of flue gas emissions in integrated steel mills
are coking and sintering plants. While some
newer facilities use the Corex or Finex process-
es developed by Siemens and can thus dis-
pense with coking and sintering, many steel-
works still use the traditional blast furnace
method, in which pig iron is produced from
iron ore using coke and sinter.
To make coke, coal is heated in a coke oven
to 1,000 degrees Celsius in the absence of air.
Afterwards, the hot coke must be quenched.
For the conventional wet quenching process,
water is used. Enormous white clouds of
steam are released, dust emissions and waste-
water harm the environment, and the energy
employed dissipates into the atmosphere. This
can be prevented with the help of the coke
dry-quenching process (CDQ) offered by
Siemens VAI. With CDQ, the heat from the red-
hot coke is used to produce steam, which in
turn is available for further processes, such as
he economic crisis has hit the steel market
especially hard. After several very success-
ful years — driven by the boom in emerging
markets — demand collapsed dramatically. In
the Fall of 2008 the German steel industry, for
example, recorded the sharpest decline in or-
ders since the end of World War II. According
to the German Federal Statistical Office, raw
steel production in Germany in the first half of
2009 alone was down 43.5 percent from the
level posted in the first half of 2008. In the
U.S. during the same period, the World Steel
Association reports, production fell by more
than 51 percent.
In addition, energy-intensive industries in
particular are facing increasingly strict envi-
ronmental regulations. According to the Inter-
national Energy Agency (IEA), iron and steel
Energy Efficiency
| Steel Plants
90 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2008 93
that can significantly speed up the transport of
mining products: trolley trucks. Such vehicles
function like streetcars — sporting antler-like
pantographs that can be raised and lowered at
the press of a button. This means that the driv-
er can link the truck to overhead conductors
(catenaries), which are generally installed on
steep slopes. “This is where conventional
trucks, despite their 3,000 plus hp, can only ad-
vance at a snail’s pace,” says Köllner. The cate-
naries can provide the drive systems with al-
most 6,000 hp. This means that the truck’s
speed can almost double, and the mine opera-
tors can reduce the number of expensive me-
chanical giants they need to have on site. The environment benefits from trolley tech-
nology too. There are no local emissions, since
the diesel engine switches itself off automati-
cally when contact is made with the overhead
line. What’s more, the braking energy that is re-
leased when a truck rolls downhill is fed back
into the network via a second pair of conduc-
tors. Thanks to all these benefits, the technolo-
gy quickly pays for itself, says Köllner. “After no
more than three years, a mine operator can re-
cover the costs of buying the trolley trucks and
the costs associated with the installation of the
overhead lines.”
Speed is king not just in terms of transporta-
tion but also loading performance. That’s why
monster excavators are also used in mines,
alongside the giant trucks. These excavators
are massive steel systems that resemble the
bow of a ship and sit atop caterpillar tracks.
Their grab arms look like electricity pylons and
their shovels are as big as mobile homes. With
just one scoop, they can move around 120
tons. It takes just four shovelfuls to fill the load
that can be modulated. The converters feature
particularly long-lasting circuit components
that have proven their capability in rail technol-
ogy. “Like mining vehicles, trains experience
extreme conditions,” says Köllner. They have to
be able to run at minus 40 degrees Celsius and
in blistering heat. In addition, the converters’
air coolers must be extraordinarily dependable,
even where air pressure is low.
Digital assistants. Sophisticated control sys-
tems are also vital when it comes to keeping
maintenance and repair times short. For exam-
compartment of a giant truck. “The process
barely takes two minutes,” says Köllner.
Such excavators are also powered by
Siemens three-phase drives. At present, there
are more than 150 such excavators in opera-
tion worldwide. “We use four motors with dif-
ferent outputs,” says Köllner. “The most power-
ful, at 2,600 hp, lifts and lowers the excavator
arm, while another moves the shovel. A third
ensures that the excavator can turn and a
fourth drives the caterpillar tracks.” Unlike the
trucks, the excavators remain in the same place
for long periods and don’t require a diesel gen-
erator. Be it trucks or excavators, converters are at
the heart of all three-phase current drives.
These converters, which are located in outsized
steel cabinets, convert current from the diesel
generator or cable into three-phase current
ple, thanks to these systems, the machines’
functionality can be monitored from a control
center (see Pictures of the Future, Spring 2005,
p. 51). “Our regional set-up and local partners
can also offer rapid assistance if need be,” says
Christian Dirscherl, who develops full-service
solutions for mine operators at Siemens’ Indus-
try Sector in Erlangen, Germany. In fact, service
is due to be expanded even further. “In the fu-
ture, we want to equip excavators and trucks
with sensors that will enable obstacles to be
detected reliably, even in very dusty condi-
tions,” says Dirscherl. As is the case with road
traffic, new assistance systems will increase
safety and make the driver’s job easier. One
day, the giant trucks may even be able to set
off on their hunt for raw materials without driv-
ers. “But that really is still a pipe dream,” says
Dirscherl. Andrea Hoferichter
interrupted and re-engaged to generate a rota-
tional movement. This limits the revolutions
per minute that a motor of this type can attain.
And it requires more parts that need to be
maintained regularly. “Our alternating current
motors can deliver up to seven percent more
performance from the same amount of energy,
and downtimes for maintenance and repair
work are rare,” says Köllner. “Generally, just one
technology check a year is all that’s needed.” Giant Trucks, Zero Emissions. AC drives also
form the basis for a development from Siemens
ere’s a dump truck that puts others to
shame. Next to it, a man looks like a
mouse. Its tires measure four meters in diame-
ter. All in all, it’s as tall as a three-story building
and as wide as a two-lane highway. Such su-
persized trucks are hard at work around the
world in the copper mines of the Andes, in the
diamond mines of Zambia, and in the bitumi-
nous sand pits of Canada. In their load com-
partments, each the size of a swimming pool,
Monster Drives
At open pit mines all over the world, mechanical mon-
sters are hard at work. They dig for bituminous sand, for
example, or transport tons of copper ore. By equipping
the giant excavators and trucks with state-of-the-art, ultra-efficient electrical drive systems, Siemens helps its customers to save energy, time, and money. Excavators can lift up to 120 tons per scoop. Trucks move up to 400 tons per trip. Catenaries
(right) make transport quicker and more economical, while reducing emissions.
Energy Efficiency
| Mining Electrification
92 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2008
shares responsibility for marketing, are helping
to ensure that this is the case. The motors,
which are positioned on the rear wheels, can
accelerate the dump trucks to 60 kilometers
per hour as well as brake them. This is no mean
feat, since the trucks weigh around 200 tons
each — about the same as 130 mid-range cars.
Once the trucks are fully loaded, the drives
need to move up to 600 tons through sand,
mud, and deep holes, as well as over steep
hills. Electricity, not Diesel. A 3,000 hp diesel en-
gine generates the current. So why doesn’t it
just propel the truck too? “The reason is simple.
It’s just not worth putting the engine and gears
of a car onto the slopes of a mine. A gearbox
powerful enough to handle the workload re-
quired of these trucks would be enormous, and
would also need a lot of maintenance,” says
Köllner, explaining the drawbacks of purely
mechanical propulsion. Not only do the trucks dispense with gear-
boxes. Thanks to their electric drive systems,
they also do without clutches and brake disks
in normal operation. Electrical resistors are
used to brake the vehicles, and speed can be
steplessly adjusted via three-phase current fre-
quency. “Such trucks are essentially driven like
a car with an automatic gearbox,” says Köllner,
who is an engineer and has actually driven one
of the behemoths.
For over 30 years now, Siemens has been
using three-phase current drives for mining ve-
hicles. “The rotating electric field can be trans-
formed directly into mechanical rotation,” says
Köllner. Some manufacturers, on the other
hand, still prefer DC drive systems. In such mo-
tors, however, the current has to be constantly
they haul raw materials to collecting points,
sorting plants, and washing plants.
These trucks may be massive, but they’re
not mass-produced. After all, they cost up to €2
million each. “It is crucial that these machines
be used as efficiently as possible and experi-
ence an absolute minimum of down time,” says
Walter Köllner from Siemens Energy & Automa-
tion in Atlanta, Georgia. The trucks’ three-
phase current drive systems, which Köllner also
Thanks to catenaries and three-phase current drives,
giant trucks can achieve outputs of up to 6,000 hp.
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 95
Another measure involves the provision of
heat and hot water using biomass, which can
cover all requirements in the summer and
serve as a supplementary energy source in the
winter. Installation costs for such a system
would total approximately $3.5 million, while
energy savings would add up to almost
$500,000 per year, with an associated CO
duction of around 7,000 tons p.a. After conducting a detailed analysis of the
proposals, the Denver International Airport op-
erating company will decide which measures it
will implement, and at which times. The fact is that airports need to take steps to
increase their energy efficiency, since their
complex infrastructures make them major en-
ergy consumers. After all, thousands of air-
ports around the world are used by billions of
passengers and airport employees every year.
In addition, studies conducted by the Airports
Council International (ACI), the International
Air Transport Association (IATA), and the Interna-
mass/biogas, geothermal sources, and fuel
cells. “Here, decisions have to be made based
on individual circumstances,” says Karl. Den-
ver’s airport covers almost 140 square kilome-
ters, for example, making it by far the largest in
the U.S. in terms of area; so it makes sense to
consider the use of biomass/biogas and wind
energy.” The Siemens study thus proposes such
measures as well. The third area focuses on solutions in the
fields of power generation, alternative energy,
baggage and freight logistics, IT services, and
building technologies. The goal here is to man-
age the many energy-hungry systems in use
with the help of intelligent IT solutions aligned
with airport processes, and to regularly moni-
tor and compare energy consumption over
How to Exploit Savings Potential.Siemens
Building Technologies is also active as an en-
ergy manager in Germany, at Münster/Osna -
brück Airport and also at Stuttgart Airport. Here
in the Southern German Airport, BT is responsi-
ble for efficient energy management on the
basis of values calculated from the counting
pulses of roughly 500 water meters and 400
heat and cooling meters. The set-points as well
as the controller settings from the automation
and field level are also documented and
processed by the airport’s energy management
system. In addition to monthly, quarterly, and
yearly reports, hourly values also play a key role
in assessing the efficiency of the systems. The
program for analyzing the energy data com-
pares current values with the building’s numer-
ical model. Energy savings of up to 40 percent
can thus be achieved. These examples illustrate how major energy
savings can be achieved through smart mod-
ernization and optimization. At the same time,
more pleasant temperatures and lighting plus
better air quality make the time spent at airports
more comfortable. In new buildings, the energy required for
heating and air conditioning can be reduced by
up to 40 percent just through architectural
meas ures and new insulation and ventilation
concepts. CO
emissions can be reduced by 70 percent
or even more if alternative energy sources,
such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric are used
to generate the required energy, if geothermal
energy, biomass and biogas, and cogeneration
are used, if equipment is replaced with devices
that use little energy, and if this equipment is
operated only on an as needed basis. “A lot can be achieved if you look at an air-
port and its complex infrastructure from a ho-
listic perspective,” says Karl. Siemens can serve
as a single source for all the required services
and solutions needed by airport authorities from
its various Groups. This brings the green, i.e.
-free, airport almost within reach, which is
the stated goal of Airports Council Interna-
tional (ACI), an international association of air-
port operators with 567 members operating in
more than 1,650 airports in 176 countries. “If the political and public environment de-
manded it, CO
-neutral airports could already
be in operation today. Even the CO
-free air-
port does not have to remain a vision if we take
advantage of all the opportunities available to
us,” says Karl. Gitta Rohling tional Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) show
that passenger volumes are rising at a consis-
tent average rate of between 3.5 and 5.8 per-
cent per year. IT Solution for Energy-Hungry Systems.
“Our energy-saving measures are implemented
in three areas,” says Karl. The first area involves
finding out which devices can be turned off or
modernized, as old machines are often the big -
gest energy wasters. It therefore makes sense
at any airport to use energy-saving lamps that
operate in accordance with ambient light con-
ditions and utilization requirements. “In many
cases you’re dealing with just one main switch
for all the lights,” says Karl. “But if you optimize
lighting systems to function in line with ambi-
ent light conditions and the utilization of spe-
cific areas, you can cut costs substantially.” The second area addresses the use of re-
newable energy sources such as wind, bio-
time. In order that the Airport Denver is able to
finance these energy-saving solutions, Siemens
offers beside its comprehensive expertise also
an energy performance contracting. With this
form of financing, the vendor contractually
guarantees the savings, decides which meas-
ures will be implemented, and finances them.
In return, the saved energy costs are paid to the
vendor until its expenses for financing, plan-
ning, and monitoring are paid in full. With energy performance contracting, the
customer doesn’t have to spend any of its own
money, but benefits from the savings once the
investment has been paid off. Two other Airports in the U.S. are already
using the advantages of this contracting. While
the Airport Detroit has been reduced its total
energy-costs about 23 percent per year, the
Airport Seattle has lowed its energy-consump-
tion about four percent and its natural gas load
about eight percent. Flight from Carbon Dioxide
Rising energy prices, growing environmental awareness, and increasingly stringent
legal requirements are forcing airports to sustainably reduce their energy consumption.
Solutions from Siemens demonstrate the kinds of energy savings that are possible if
complex airport infrastructures are looked at holistically. Siemens already serves as an
energy manager at many airports in the U.S. and Germany.
Siemens is developing measures to save energy for Denver Airport (below). Thanks to Siemens technologies, Stuttgart Airport (right) has already cut its energy bill by around 40 percent. into account the impact the proposed meas-
ures would have on the environment, operat-
ing capacity, and passenger comfort. The study produced a total of 26 proposals,
the most effective of which involve measures
that would address heating, cooling, ventila-
tion, lighting, and baggage transport systems,
which together account for more than 80 per-
cent of total energy consumption. “Naturally,
airports are looking to achieve extensive sav-
ings in terms of not only costs but also energy
consumption and carbon dioxide emissions —
and to do so as simply as possible and at a low
level of investment,” says Uwe Karl, head of Air-
port Solutions at BT. There are also more ex-
pensive measures, such as the use of alterna-
tive energy generation systems that would
immediately result in a high CO
reduction but
would pay for themselves only after a long pe-
riod. To help the airport operator with its deci-
sions, the study lists the cost of each individual
measure, as well as the associated energy re-
duction and its amortization period. A good example of how to achieve a major
effect at relatively low cost is offered by sys-
tems that control terminal ventilation in line
with utilization. The installation of these sys-
tems, which employ CO
sensors and intelligent
ventilation control units, would cost $215,000
— but would lead to annual energy-cost sav-
ings of $425,000. Such an investment would
thus pays for itself after only six months. An-
other relatively simple way to save energy is to
install energy-saving lamps and LED lighting
systems. Lights in the passenger terminal at
Denver International are left on 18 hours per
day; those in the parking garages and on the
runways and apron burn even longer. Use of
energy-efficient lighting systems could reduce
electricity consumption by more than 11 mil-
lion kWh per year, which, given the U.S. energy
mix, corresponds to around 10,000 tons of CO
. D
enver International Airport is a majestic fa-
cility. The roof of its passenger terminal is
adorned with 34 pinnacles made of translucent
Teflon as a tribute to the nearby Rocky Moun-
tains. With 51 million passengers in 2008, the
airport is one of the world’s busiest. Its com-
plex infrastructure also makes it a huge con-
sumer of energy, as it required 216 million kilo-
watt-hours (kWh) of electricity in 2007, or
more than four kWh per passenger. In early 2008, the airport’s operating com-
pany therefore asked Siemens’ Building Tech-
nologies (BT) division to draw up concepts de-
signed to cut airport energy use. In mid-2009
BT released a study offering optimization pro-
posals aimed at reducing the airport’s overall
natural gas demand by ten percent and kWh
consumption by 12 percent. For its study, BT
examined the terminal, waiting halls, and of-
fice and equipment buildings. Along with en-
ergy-saving considerations, the study also took
Energy Efficiency
| Airports 94 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
Energy-saving lamps alone would save Denver International more than 11 million kWh per year. Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2008 97
is their
State-of-the-art technology
is making it possible to reduce energy consump-
tion in buildings by up to
30 percent. Four buildings
— in New York, Malmö,
Madrid, and Sydney —
demonstrate what can be
achieved for people and
the environment when sensors, special materials,
energy supply systems, and
information technology interact in an optimal manner.
Free-climber Alain Robert scaled the NY Times Building as a protest against climate
change — yet the building uses 30 percent less energy than its neighbors. B
ack in June, 2008 Alain Robert climbed the
facade of the new headquarters of the
New York Times Company to call attention to
the problem of global warming. Ironically, the
building on which he chose to unfurl a banner
with a message about climate protection was
designed precisely to address that issue.
In fact, the 52-story building in Manhattan
scaled by Robert, who is also known as “Spider-
man,” offers an impressive example of how
modern technology can be employed to con-
serve energy and cut CO
emissions without
sacrificing comfort. The New York Times Build-
ing (NYTB), which opened in November 2007,
uses up to 30 percent less energy than conven-
tional office high-rises. Designed by star archi-
tect Renzo Piano, the building has an unusual
ultra-clear glass facade that allows neighbors
to not only look into the interior, but also all the
way through to the other side. The design al-
lows passersby to look right through the lobby
and into a garden featuring birch trees and
moss. It’s like an oasis in the middle of Manhat-
tan, one that symbolizes a key principle behind
the building — to conserve energy with the
help of, and in harmony with, nature.
Glass skyscrapers normally waste a lot of
energy because they collect heat like a green-
house and then use air conditioning to keep
themselves cool. But the NYTB is different. It
has a second facade made of ceramic rods that
extends from the ground floor to the roof and
keeps out direct light. A shading system is pro-
grammed to use the position of the sun and in-
puts from an extensive sensor network to raise
and lower shades, either blocking extreme
light to reduce glare or allowing light to enter
at times of less direct sunlight. The shading sys-
tem works in tandem with a first-of-its-kind
lighting system that maximizes use of natural
light so that electric lighting is used only as a
supplement. Each of the more than 18,000
electrical ballasts in the lighting system con-
tains a computer chip that allows it to be con-
trolled individually.
The Times Company is also able to use free-
air cooling, meaning that on a cool morning,
air from the outside can be brought into the
building. Everyone knows it makes sense to air
out your home in the morning on hot summer
days — but it takes high-tech systems to
achieve the same practical results in a building
as big as the NYTB. The task is enormously
complex. Interior temperature, outside temper-
ature, the building’s configuration, the angle of
the sun, and the electrical and heat output of
the in-house gas-fired combined-heat-and
power generation systems are just a small sam-
ple of the many variables that have to be moni-
tored to ensure efficient use of energy in such
a skyscraper. No building superintendent could
ever make decisions on the basis of so much in-
formation. But in The New York Times Building
these decisions are made by a building man-
agement system from Siemens that automati-
cally monitors and controls the air condition-
ing, water cooling, heating, fire alarm, and
generation systems.
The building management system seam-
lessly integrates equipment from other manu-
facturers, which can then be operated by
means of a centralized control interface. Build-
ing technicians are provided with real time in-
formation via an extensive network of hun-
| Efficient Buildings 96 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2008
Groundswell of Support for
More Efficient Buildings
lmost 40 percent of the world’s energy is used by
buildings. According to the German Energy Agency
(DENA), potential savings of 30 percent are possible for
heat and 15 percent for electric power. A study by the
German Federal Environment Agency has even calculated
that by thoroughly renovating and insulating walls and
cellar ceilings in old buildings, and installing double
glazed windows, savings of 56 percent could be made in
terms of heating energy (see Pictures of the Future,
Spring 2007, p. 86). T
he global market for heating, ventilation, and air
conditioning products is estimated at around €80 billion,
according to the German Federal Ministry for the Environ-
ment, Nature Conservation and Reactor Safety and the
German Institute for Economic Research (DIW); it is also
growing at five percent per year. Future improvements
here will come from optimizing existing technologies,
such as new types of coolants, and better control and
process technology, using sensors and other technolo-
gies. Demand for efficient building systems is growing,
primarily as a result of stricter legal requirements and en-
ergy efficiency campaigns. Of China’s 40 billion square
meters of residential and usable floor space, some 16 bil-
lion is accounted for by residential buildings within cities.
By 2010, the government plans to invest around $400 bil-
lion in energy efficiency improvements for buildings. Im-
provements will be documented in an effort to ensure
that only energy-efficient construction plans are ap-
proved. This is an important step, since China’s expendi-
tures for new construction are expected to increase by
9.2 percent a year until 2010 according to the latest fore-
cast by Freedonia. “Thanks to the introduction of energy
use standards for new buildings, we have already saved
five million tons of coal between January and October
2007 alone,” says Xie-Zhen Hua, Deputy Director of the
National Development and Reform Commission.
In the U.S., energy efficiency is growing in impor-
tance, particularly in public buildings, even though a
study by McGraw Hill Construction in 2007 revealed that
the proportion of “green buildings” in the U.S. is still only
0.3 percent of residential
real estate. The annual in-
creases of 20 to 30 per-
cent are, however, signifi-
cant. By the end of 2007,
4,100 buildings and facto-
ries had acquired the “En-
ergy Star” label for energy
efficiency, 1,400 of them
in 2007 alone. In Califor-
nia, the Building Regula-
tions Committee passed
the “California Green Building Standards Code” at the end
of July 2008. It contains guidelines aimed at pushing
building energy consumption 15 percent below the val-
ues that are being achieved by current binding energy ef-
ficiency standards. The directive is set to become manda-
tory for residential buildings in 2010. Europe has various initiatives, such as the “20-20-20
by 2020” motto. This means that by 2020, greenhouse
gas emissions are to be reduced by 20 percent compared
to 1990, the proportion of renewable energies increased
to 20 percent and energy efficiency increased by 20 per-
cent. Another European initiative is the voluntary Green-
Building program, which has been in place since 2005. Its
aim is to improve the energy efficiency of non-residential
buildings, such as offices, schools or industrial premises,
by helping property owners modernize their buildings.
In the context of energy-saving contracting, such in-
vestments can pay for themselves out of contractually-
agreed savings within a defined period. According to the
Berlin Energy Agency, energy costs and carbon dioxide
emissions can be cut by an average of up to 30 percent in
this way. “Across Germany, efficiency contracting will cut en-
ergy costs by some €800 million and carbon dioxide
emissions by 4.5 million tons each year,” says Michael
Geißler, Executive Manager of the Berlin Energy Agency.
By 2010, the agency anticipates the market volume for
contracting to reach €4 billion a year. Contracting
providers such as Siemens can exploit significant growth
potential here, since only around ten percent of the mar-
ket is being tapped. Sylvia Trage
Energy Efficiency
| Facts and Forecasts
1990 1995 2000 2005
Space heating
16 Exajoules
Domestic appliances
Hot water
Source: Study: “Worldwide Trends in Energy Use and Efficiency”, IEA (2008)
IEA 19: Association of 19 industrialized nations incl. Germany, France, UK, U.S. and Japan.
Source: Germany Energy Agency Without insulation With insulation
12,120 kWh/year
1,764 kWh/year
3,000 kWh/year
714 kWh/year
2,900 kWh/year
Residential buildings
Other process heat
Space heat
Hot water
Ventilation, air
conditioning 23%
Source: Siemens AG
Household Energy Consumption in 19 Industrialized Nations
Energy Consumption in Non-
Residential Buildings
Heating Losses for a Typical Home with and without Insulation
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2008 99
made them appealing in 2005. Back then, the
owners of the Turning Torso may not have real-
ized they would become pioneers in lighting
systems for buildings. Minimizing Resource Consumption. The
fact that impressive aesthetics and energy effi-
ciency needn’t be mutually exclusive is also
demonstrated by the 30 The Bond office com-
plex in Sydney — the first building in Australia
to receive five stars from the Australian Build-
ing Greenhouse Rating Scheme (ABGR). This
stringent certification system was introduced
by the government of New South Wales to en-
courage building owners to use state-of-the-art
technology to minimize resource consumption.
The highest rating is issued to buildings that
operate with a carbon footprint that falls below
a set benchmark. Greenhouse gas emissions at
30 The Bond, which was completed in 2004,
are around 30 percent lower than in similar
buildings. Those who visit it generally don’t re-
alize at first that they’re in an office building, as
there is a café located in an eight-story atrium
whose huge size helps to cool the structure.
The back wall is made entirely of sandstone,
and the roof features a small garden right in
the middle of the Australian metropolis.
Depending on the weather, the garden is
watered by a timed, drip irrigation system at
night, so the upper floors take longer to heat
up in the morning. Sixty percent of all worksta-
tions have a clear view outside, making the
building a part of its natural surroundings.
As with similar buildings in New York and
Madrid, intelligent building management tech-
nologies from Siemens integrate various systems
at 30 The Bond, including those for heating, air
conditioning, energy and water supply, fire
protection, and lighting. Several of the energy
conservation s
trategies are also similar. Syd-
ney’s 30 The Bond is divided into 80 zones that
can be controlled individually, with only those
parts of the building that are actually in use be-
ing illuminated, cooled, and ventilated. There
are also CO
sensors for measuring air quality
in the conference rooms. The system channels
fresh air into a room only if people are present.
Completely new for Australia at the time the
30 The Bond building opened was the method
used for cooling it. Instead of passing cold air
directly into the office space, the system pumps
chilled water through passive chilled beams (or
radiators) mounted in ceilings. Chilled beams
cool the space below by acting as a heat sink for
naturally-rising warm air. Once cooled, the air
drops back to the floor where the cycle begins
Says Lynden Clark, who was responsible for
engineering the Siemens solution at 30 The
Bond: “When it comes to such ambitious proj-
ects Siemens is an enabler helping customers
to achieve their individual goals, whereby we
decide on a case-by-case basis which technolo-
gies are most suitable for a given situation.”
It’s no coincidence that in many cases the
solutions are based on the same principle as
that applied in New York, Madrid, and Sydney,
which calls for more extensively exploiting the
surroundings of the buildings, the natural heat
or cold, and the light of the sun. After all, na-
ture opens up all kinds of opportunities for liv-
ing and working in harmony with it in modern
high-tech buildings — and intelligent building
technology makes it possible to seize these op-
portunities. Andreas Kleinschmidt
A garden in the NY Times Building (left) boosts moti-
vation while networked sensors cut power consump-
tion. Malmö`s Turning Torso (below) and Sydney’s
30 The Bond (right) also save lots of energy.
Energy Efficiency
| Efficient Buildings 98 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2008
dreds of sensors, including those for monitor-
ing temperature, which are distributed
throughout the building. While all functions
can be regulated from a central control room,
this usually isn’t necessary because all it takes
is a few commands to get the systems to auto-
matically adjust themselves to conditions on
any day. Whether it’s a hot, humid work day, or
a cold and dry holiday when only a few offices
are being used — the goal is always to save en-
ergy by ensuring that as few systems as possi-
ble are in operation, without diminishing com-
fort in any way.
building management system from Siemens —
will in the future help ensure that the most de-
manding tenant requirements are met while
using as little energy as possible. All relevant information — from lighting
and air conditioning to heating systems, for ex-
ample — will be available on control panels lo-
cated throughout the building, thus helping to
ensure smooth operations. Stability will also be
maintained in the event of a failure of individ-
ual systems or in case the central control room
itself is damaged. If a fire breaks out, for exam-
ple, ventilation dampers would still automati-
port heat down to the lower floors. Instead of
heating the ground floor at the same time that
the air conditioning is running in the top floor,
the building automatically regulates itself to
ensure energy efficiency.
The intelligent control panels are also very
efficient, consuming around 15 percent less
energy than conventional units, says Margarita
Izquierdo of Siemens Building Technologies,
who is responsible for Energy & Environmental
Solutions. Izquierdo helped her Siemens col-
leagues on the Torre de Cristal project to opti-
mize energy efficiency in all areas. “The Torre
de Cristal is truly avant-garde for Spain,” says
Izquierdo. “Solutions for energy efficiency in
buildings are in many respects still in their in-
fancy here, which is why I’m convinced this
project will serve as a model in many ways.”
LED Lighthouse. Another energy-saving
building is the 190-meter Turning Torso in
Malmö, Sweden, which was completed in
2005. The building’s ambitious architectural
style led the New York Museum of Modern Art
to induct it into its Hall of Fame of the world’s
25 most fascinating skyscrapers. Light is one of
its design key elements, with LEDs used to
flood the corridors in symmetrical white light.
“Other solutions like fluorescent lights would
have created unattractive shadows,” says Jørn
Brinkmann, who coordinated the installation of
some 16,000 LEDs for Siemens’ Osram sub-
sidiary in what was the first mass architectural
application of such technology. When the Turn-
ing Torso was built, LEDs consumed about as
much energy as fluorescent tubes — but today
they use around a third less energy for the same
output. But it was their long service life that
If part of the building is not in use, the building manage-
ment system will shut down its light and ventilation. “Nobody benefits from cooling an empty of-
fice in the evening,” says Gary Marciniak, Ac-
count Executive at Siemens Building Technolo-
gies.“That’s obvious,” he adds. “But other factors
are less apparent. For example, sometimes it’s
more efficient to have one of two water pumps
operating at full capacity, while at other times
the greatest efficiency is achieved by letting
them both run.” The system itself recognizes
and automatically exploits such situations in
order to maximize resource conservation.
Crystal Tower. Similar technologies are being
used in the Torre de Cristal skyscraper in
Madrid’s Fuencarral-El Pardo district, one of
Spain’s prime locations. The second tallest
building in the country, the Torre de Cristal has
benefited from a Siemens fire protection sys-
tem. In addition, “Desigo” — an integrated
cally close throughout the building to prevent
smoke from spreading. The control panels will
also use information from sensors to regulate
air flows and thus the temperature of individ-
ual sectors of the building. If part of the build-
ing is not in use, its light and ventilation sys-
tems will be shut down. Individual control units will be networked
and will constantly exchange information on
conditions in their sectors, thus providing a real
time overview of all building conditions and
processes. Automated control procedures can
then be used to make continual adjustments to
enable optimal energy utilization. If, for exam-
ple, the system finds that the upper floors are
warmer than the lower ones, it will cool things
off by automatically sending cold water to the
upper floors through high-pressure pipes.
Warmer water from the top floors can trans-
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2008 101
When Buildings Come to Life
Sensors are set to give
buildings a spectrum of information — and scientists at Siemens are
working on combining
many of their functions on a single chip. 100 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2008
t Siemens Corporate Technology in Munich,
Germany, when physicist Rainer Strzoda
enters his work area and wants to find out if
the climate control system is working properly,
all he needs to do is take a look at a small
device on the wall. Today, the prototype laser-
optic sensor developed by Siemens scientists
reads 400 ppm CO
“That’s a good value when you consider that
our atmosphere currently contains 380 ppm
,” says Strzoda. “This means the room
contains only a little more carbon dioxide than
the outside environment.” As the day pro-
gresses, and Strzoda and his colleagues work
on their inventions and discuss their results,
the CO
reading slowly climbs to around
600–700 ppm — solely because the scientists
are breathing.
Strzoda and his colleagues actually have it
good. The air in most of the world’s offices and
conference rooms has a CO
content in excess
of 1,000 ppm, the level at which people begin
to feel uncomfortable and become tired and
unfocused. Most buildings still don’t have CO
sensors — but this will soon change, according
to Dr. Maximilian Fleischer, who heads Str-
zoda’s research group. His team has produced
many sensor-related inventions that have re-
Energy Efficiency
| Intelligent Sensors
sulted in new products from Siemens. With
around 160 patents to his name, Fleischer is
one of Siemens’ most productive inventors (see
Pictures of the Future,Fall 2004, p. 81, and Fall
2006, p. 58).
Sensors for measuring light and tempera-
ture are widely used today. Gas sensors —
micro electrical-mechanical systems (MEMS)
made of silicon chips and an oxidizing layer —
are a relatively new development, however.
These laser-optic sensors are still in the early
stages of their development, and it will be
some time before they hit the market. In contrast, the gallium oxide sensor —
Fleischer’s career breakthrough invention —
has been measuring the CO content of exhaust
gas in thousands of small firing systems for
years, thereby making it possible to optimize
their energy output and emissions.
In a completely different area of develop-
ment, a new sensor from Siemens’ research
labs that measures alcohol content in a per-
son’s breath may soon go into production, and
Sweden has announced that it plans to be-
come the first country to combine it with a ve-
hicle immobilizer to prevent intoxicated people
from driving. This technology, which has been
licensed from Siemens, can also be used in
trains, streetcars, and in connection with po-
tentially dangerous machinery.
Big Savings from Tiny Sensors. Until now,
sensors were rarely used in buildings because
they were too expensive and too difficult to in-
stall and maintain. But recent advances in de-
veloping silicon-based sensor chips equipped
with their own power source and radio module
have caught the attention of building opera-
As soon as wireless-capable sensor chips
can be produced cheaply, it will become feasi-
ble to link thousands of them in a finely woven
infrastructure in buildings. “We will eventually
be able to use sensors to imitate nature,” pre-
dicts Ahmed. Just as our senses and nerves
constantly supply our brains with information
that allows us to make decisions, processors in
building management systems will be used to
receive and process data from thousands of
Gas Detectives.In their labs, Fleischer and his
team are already developing sensors that can
monitor air quality in buildings. “To accomplish
this, we need a chip that can measure at least
four parameters: temperature, humidity, gases
like CO
, and odors,” says Fleischer. To this end,
he and his coworkers are studying detector ma-
terials to determine which reacts best with the
gases to be detected. In a cathode sputtering
facility characterized by a mysterious blue-
Kerstin Wiesner (left) tests the sensitivity of gas sensors, one of many sensor types being studied by Maximilian Fleischer (right). Bottom: Tempering metal films. Sensors were long considered too expensive for building systems. Research, however, is making them
smaller, cheaper, and more flexible — such as
Siemens’ CO
measurement sensor (bottom left). tors. That’s because such sensors can yield big
savings. Intechno Consulting estimates that
the global annual market for gas sensor sys-
tems will be roughly € 2.9 billion in 2010.
Sensors play a key role in all scenarios in-
volving the future of building system technolo-
gies. “Houses will no longer be empty shells;
they will be intelligent systems that communi-
cate with their occupants,” says Dr. Osman
Ahmed, who heads an innovation team at
Siemens Building Technology in Buffalo Grove,
Illinois. sensors, and then issue appropriate commands
to a variety of subsystems. Combined with user information, building
management systems will be able to perform
many new services. Building users will be able
to inform such systems about when they will
be arriving, which security mechanisms have to
be used, and which rooms to ventilate. A vari-
ety of sensors will ensure that management
systems always know when a toilet is in need
of repair, where a corrosive substance has been
released, or where people have gathered.
Office buildings will become intelligent systems that
communicate with their users. Energy Efficiency | Intelligent Sensors
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2007 103102 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2008
glowing plasma, the researchers are producing
sensor surfaces only a few millionths of a me-
ter thick. And next door, in a related experi-
ment, a small device that uses a type of screen
printing technique to detect gases is being
studied. Which procedure is more suitable for
gas detection depends on the materials in
question. The researchers place the desired
combinations of the tiny oxidation surfaces
they produce side-by-side on field effect tran-
sistors (FETs) in a chip. Examples include a bar-
ium titanate-copper oxide-mixed oxide combi-
nation for detecting CO
, and a gallium oxide
with finely distributed platinum for detecting
odors. The substances being investigated in Flei -
scher’s lab don’t dock directly on a chip’s sur-
face, but flow as if through a tunnel between a
molecular capturing layer and the actual FET
structure, causing a change in electrical resis -
tance that the chip can read and convert into
signals. If the chip is equipped with a radio
module, it can wirelessly send the data to a
building management system’s control units.
Although Ahmed’s vision of tomorrow’s
buildings may still seem like a stretch, initial
steps in that direction have already been taken.
“Comfort demands are increasing,” says An-
dreas Haas of Siemens Building Technologies in
Switzerland. He believes trends in building
technologies will parallel those in cars, for
which sophisticated climate control systems
are now standard. However, building operators are most inter-
ested in the savings potential that sensor sys-
tems offer. After all, sensor cost a lot less than
renovating a building and, when combined
with state-of-the-art optimized building au-
tomation, can produce even greater savings.
Haas estimates that precise room climate sen-
sors, and air quality and presence sensors can
reduce the energy used for heating, ventila-
tion, air conditioning, and lighting by 30 per-
cent compared to a building with conventional
automation technology. Comfort is also affected by odors. “Rooms
are often aired out only because they smell un-
pleasant,” says Fleischer. This needn’t be the
case, since ambient air can be cleaned using
ozone, which bonds to odor-producing mole-
cules and neutralizes them by splitting them.
This is why Siemens researchers are developing
gas sensors that can recognize typical room
odors. The researchers have used 18 different
gases, such as ethane, propene, and acetone to
produce model odors. Hexanal, for example, is
used for tests of sensors designed to detect
odors in carpets. The scientists are also work-
ing on developing long-lasting odor sensors.
“This kind of sensor needs to function for at
least ten years if it’s going to attract interest on
the market,” says Fleischer. If such a sensor re-
ports a bad odor in the air to the control sys-
tem, the latter will issue a command to release
ozone. The subsequent concentration of ozone
can in turn be monitored by another type of
This requirement also applies to fire alarms,
of course, most of which still react optically to
the presence of smoke. “But that might be too
late for people near the source of a fire who
have already inhaled a toxic gas,” says Fleischer.
This is why building operators are interested in
acquiring devices that detect the specific gases
typically associated with flames. Such devices
would be activated long before enough smoke
could be produced to set off a conventional
alarm. Such detectors — especially if combined
with sensors for automated climate control —
are at the top of building operators’ wish lists.
Universal Experts. Siemens engineers are
also working on non-chip sensors such as laser-
optic devices that can remotely determine
toxins, with chemical sensors you have to
know in advance which harmful substance you
want to test for.
More importantly, living sensors could be
used in green buildings that save energy by set-
ting up as many closed cycles as possible, for
water and air, for example. “Highly sensitive
early warning systems are critical here,” says
Fleischer. Looking further ahead, Ahmed adds,
“One day we’re going to have buildings that
don’t require any energy from outside. We’re
going to need a lot of intelligent products to
get there, and multifunctional sensors are an
important piece of this puzzle.” Whatever the
future has in store, Siemens scientists have al-
ready done a lot to take us a step closer to this
vision. Katrin Nikolaus
measure water quality. “We mount these cells
on chips, expose them to toxins, and then ob-
serve the types of reactions that result,” she ex-
plains. At present she’s examining how the
skeletal muscle cells of rats react to various
waste water samples. Such living sensors offer
tremendous advantages over chemical-based
sensors because, while living cells react to all
Indoor climate sensors and optimized automation can significantly lower a building’s energy consumption. sensor in order to prevent negative side effects,
such as respiratory tract irritation. One of the main challenges in the develop-
ment of gas sensors is the question of cross-
sensitivities. That’s because, if false alarms are
to be avoided, the detecting material on a chip
must respond only to the substance being
searched for. where most of a gas in a room is concentrated.
Just down the hall from the laser-optic sensor
lab, doctoral student Rebekka Kubisch is work-
ing with petri dishes full of a red fluid. The
dishes are being used to grow cell cultures for
“living” sensors that can do things such as
Doctoral student Rebekka Kubisch measures the acidification, impedance, and respiration rate of cell sensors (left) at Siemens Corporate Technology in Munich. A new universal detector (right). Unlike chemical sensors, cell culture sensors react to a spectrum of toxins. Light-Emitting
Developments Cutting energy consumption, banishing pollutants, and boosting lamp service life — that’s the mission of Osram’s lamp developers. Just around the corner:
Bright, white LEDs with a service life of 90,000 hours. | Lighting
ight emitting diodes (LEDs) are as small as
motes of dust — but they’re giants when it
comes to environmental friendliness. Not only
do white LEDs require only one-fifth the power
used by traditional light bulbs; but they last
about 50 times longer. What’s more, unlike
conventional energy-saving lamps, they are
mercury-free. In fact, the white LED success
story has been in the making for years (Pictures
of the Future, Spring 2007, p. 34). Offering 1,000 lumens, which is brighter
than a 50-watt halogen lamp, the star in the
Another important factor when it comes to
producing efficient LEDs involves the yellow
and orange-red colorants that are applied to
the original light source in layers in order to
transform the LED chips’ blue light into white.
Osram researcher Dr. Martin Zachau is an ex-
pert in this field. He and his team use colorant
grain size to control the dispersion properties
of the particles, which allows them to vary
emitted light. Efficiency is optimized via chemi-
cal composition. The stability of the phosphor
is increased by means of a protective coating. LED firmament is undoubtedly “Ostar Lighting.”
With its efficiency of about 70 lumens per watt,
it literally relegates incandescent bulbs (15
lm/W) to the shadows. The lamp contains six
high-efficiency LED chips, each measuring one
square millimeter. “With Ostar, we have created
a very large illuminated area,” says project
leader Dr. Steffen Köhler from Osram Opto
Semiconductors in Regensburg, Germany, a
subsidiary of Osram, a Siemens company. In
contrast to the trend toward miniaturization in
the electronics industry, LEDs for general light-
ing should be as big as possible, so that they
can supply large amounts of light. Achieving this goal is anything but an easy
matter, though. It’s important to bear in mind
that LEDs are a combination of differently
doped semiconductor crystals. In other words,
dopant atoms have been introduced to the
crystal lattices, which have to be pure and reg-
ularly structured at the atomic level. The larger
the crystals are, however, the higher is the
probability that impurities and irregularities
will occur. And the greater the number of im-
purities, the less efficient the conversion of
electrical energy into light. Nevertheless, Köh-
ler is confident that even more efficient and
bigger chips can be produced. “We know that
2,000 lumens is a feasible goal,“ he says. Nevertheless, LEDs still do not accurately re-
produce natural colors. That’s because, unlike
sunlight or light from incandescent bulbs, they
produce only blue and yellow wavelengths.
With this in mind, Zachau’s team has come up
with a new system that will transform parts of
the blue LED light not only into yellow, but also
into green and red light. “As a result, the LED
spectrum will be complete — like sunlight —
and colors will be superbly reproduced,”
Zachau explains. To accelerate phosphor development, Dr.
Ute Liepold of Siemens Corporate Technology
in Munich relies on combinatorial chemistry
(Pictures of the Future, Spring 2003, p. 26). To
that end, Liepold uses a perforated metal sheet
about the size of a postcard. The sheet holds as
many as 96 crucibles containing mixtures of
powders, which create new phosphors when
heated in an oven. A computer-controlled ma-
nipulator is then used to weigh out the starting
materials and position the pans on a sample
carrier. The advantage of this method is that
several hundred samples can be produced in a
single day. “But organizing and evaluating all
the data is quite a challenge,” says Liepold. The
objective of the screenings is to test as many
compositions as possible in the shortest period
of time. Long-lasting luminosity. The Dulux EL
LongLife (above) is a compact fluorescent
lamp with a rated life of 15,000 hours. Below:
Materials for LEDs being tested in a fluores-
cent light library. Bottom: The Ostar Lighting
white LED shines brighter than a 50-watt
halogen lamp. Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009 105
The desired efficiency increases can be at-
tained through extensive refinements, such as
limiting tolerances during production in order
to minimize a lamp’s environmental impact.
Soon, for example, it should be possible to fill
lamps with precisely the amount of gas needed
to make them light up most efficiently. Imple-
mentation of many such measures can raise
the luminous efficiency of today’s common
lighting systems by around 20 percent. When Less is More. Osram’s developers can
also use such life cycle analyses to identify
those parts of the production process where re-
sources can be conserved, and future waste
thus prevented. For instance, Kroban’s studies
show that in some cases, energy consumption
can be reduced by using less material. The Os-
ram T5 fluorescent tube, for example, which is
about as thin as a finger, performed much bet-
ter in terms of energy efficiency than the com-
monly used T8 tube, which is as thick as a
broomstick. The “leaner” model actually con-
sumes around 40 percent less energy while de-
livering the same level of brightness. Osram and the Energy Research Center in
Munich began assembling data on the energy
consumption of lamps 20 years ago. Since
then, Osram has continually updated its fig-
ures. According to this data, by simply switch-
ing to modern lighting solutions, around 900
billion kilowatt-hours would be saved, or one-
third of the electricity currently being used for
lighting. Given today’s energy mix for electricity
production, that would be equivalent to a 450-
million-ton reduction in carbon dioxide emis-
sions each year. “You’d have to plant 450,000
square kilometers of forest — an area about
the size of Sweden — to achieve the same ef-
fect,” says Merz, who adds that it therefore
makes sense to ban incandescent light bulbs.
104 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009
Energy Efficiency | Lighting | Lamps
algorzata Kroban spent months traveling
to manufacturing workshops and pro-
duction halls every day. The young engineer
visited Osram glass manufacturing centers,
where glass cylinders and tubes are made from
a large number of materials melted together in
giant hot furnaces. Kroban witnessed lamp bodies being coated
with phosphor, filled with gases, fitted with
electronic circuits and stuck to plastic parts.
She spoke with factory managers, researchers,
and developers, and sifted through numerous
databases. Her objective — which was also the
Fluorescent lamp manufacturing. Most of the energy consumed during a lamp’s life cycle results
from operation, while production (small images) requires a relatively small proportion of energy.
Let there be Savings!
Researchers who have studied the life cycles of various
lamps from Osram, a Siemens subsidiary, have found that their environmental balance sheet from production
to disposal is almost exclusively determined by their efficiency and life span. topic of her doctoral dissertation at the Bran-
denburg University of Technology in Cottbus,
Germany — was to put together a comprehensive
environmental balance sheet for fluorescent
lamps and various other Osram lighting systems.
“This dissertation marked the first time that
the entire lamp life cycle had been closely ex-
amined — everything from quarry operations
and extraction of the materials for the glass to
recycling and disposal facilities,” says Christian
Merz, a sustainability expert at Osram. It was
thus at once a premiere and a complex detec-
tive assignment. Every detail had to be identi-
fied and recorded. Where do raw materials
come from, and how are they extracted, trans-
ported, prepared, and processed? What exactly
occurs during the manufacturing process, and
which machines and tools are needed? How
much material and energy is used, and which
energy sources are involved? How much elec-
tricity do the lamps consume when operating;
how long do they last? And finally, which sub-
stances are recyclable, and can therefore be re-
used when the lamp reaches the end of its
service life? The results of Kroban’s extensive investiga-
tion made one thing very clear: “The environ-
mental balance sheet for lamps is largely deter-
mined by their energy consumption during
operation,” she says. As Kroban discovered,
only one to two percent of total lamp energy
consumption is attributable to lamp produc-
tion. “That’s why efficiency during operation is
the most effective lever for making lamps more
environmentally friendly,” says Merz. “So, if we
can raise lamp luminous efficiency even just
one or two percent, we’ll achieve more than if
we covered up all our smokestacks and no
longer released production-related carbon
dioxide into the atmosphere.” Mercury-Free Lamps. A small amount of
mercury, which turns into a gas at a lamp’s op-
erating temperature, is usually added in xenon
automobile headlights. Thanks to their larger
size, mercury atoms are more easily hit by elec-
trons in the plasma of these gas-discharge
lamps. Because they emit light that is close to
the visible spectrum, the loss occurring during
conversion into white light is very low. Mercury
also serves as a chemical and thermal buffer,
preventing unwanted oxidation processes and
helping to dissipate heat. But mercury is also
poisonous and can accumulate in the environ-
ment. An EU regulation therefore specifies that
it should be avoided whenever possible in the
automotive sector, which is why researchers
are looking for alternatives. Three years ago, Osram launched the “Xe-
narc Hg-free lamp,” which replaces mercury
with zinc iodide, a harmless gas. “The product’s
development was difficult,” says Christian Wit-
tig, head of Marketing for Xenarc Systems. “We
had to adapt the entire electronic and optical
environment to the new technology.” For ex-
ample, the higher currents in this xenon lamp
subject the components and electronics to
greater stress, so Osram had to use thicker
electrodes and thi cker fused quartz glass. “Pro-
duction is a bit more complicated, but it’s a step
forward for the environment,” says Wittig.
Automakers including Audi, Ford, and Toyota
use the new lamps.
Glowing Prospects. Osram compact fluores-
cent lamps still use mercury, but less than three
milligrams per lamp. “It’s nearly impossible to
dispense such a small amount of this material
in drop form,” says Dr. Ralf Criens, an Osram
environmental expert. “So the mercury is fixed
with iron powder, which lets us put the right
amount into each lamp.” Long service life is
particularly critical for environmental reasons.
Ultimately, longer service life means fewer re-
placed lamps — and less mercury. That’s why
Osram researchers developed the very long-
lasting compact fluorescent Dulux EL LongLife
lamp, which can burn for 15,000 hours. “Service life is a key factor when working on
concepts for new lamps, as is the need to think
in terms of systems,” says Criens. He foresees
perennial favorites like white LEDs, which pro-
vide up to 90,000 hours of light, dispensing
with the need for a base — a development that
is expected to soon usher in new kinds of floor
lamps, table lamps, and other applications us-
ing LEDs as fixed components at competitive
prices. As a result, many customers could soon
be glowing with pleasure at the sight of their
bright, environmentally-friendly and long-last-
ing lamps. Andrea Hoferichter
An energy-saving lamp lasts 15 times longer than a light bulb — and saves one megawatt-hour of electricity. Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008 107
| UN Certificates
By trading in their old incandescent bulb for a modern energy-saving light source, the Radheyshyam
family will save about €55 on electricity over ten
years and help preserve the environment.
India’s New Light
In India, Osram is offering free energy-saving lamps in exchange for energy-hungry incandescent bulbs. In doing so, it has become the first lighting manufacturer to participate in the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism.
ing to protect the environment.” A maximum of
two bulbs will be exchanged in each house-
hold, so that better-off Indians will have no ad-
vantage over poorer ones. Osram is collecting
the old bulbs and recycling them in an environ-
mentally compatible manner. “Our methodology
is designed to ensure that the old bulbs aren’t
used any more,” says Bronger. In addition, spe-
cially developed measuring instruments will be
installed in 200 households to record average
daily use of the lamps for the UN. The data will
be documented in regular reports. The German
Technical Supervision Association (TÜV) will
verify the details, which will be sent to the UN.
Ideal for Emerging Markets. The top part of
each lamp is manufactured in Germany, while
the bottom part, with its complex electronics,
is made in Italy. The lamps are assembled in In-
dia. Ultimately, the international division of
work makes no difference in the product. The
Dulux EL Longlife, one of Osram’s most innova-
tive lamps, is ideal for use in emerging markets.
he Radheyshyam family, from the Indian
city of Visakhapatnam, has no extravagant
designer lamp shade. Even so, it has a special
lamp that is so innovative that you won’t find it
everywhere in Europe yet. It’s Osram’s Dulux EL
Longlife energy-saving lamp. Together with
partner RWE, Osram started offering 700,000
of these lamps to India’s households in April
2008 as part of the United Nations’ ”Clean De-
velopment Mechanism” (CDM). In comparison
with conventional incandescent bulbs the new
lamps consume 80 percent less electricity. “The idea is to reduce carbon dioxide emis-
sions in developing and emerging markets sub-
stantially with the most modern lighting tech-
nology — for the benefit of everyone,” says
Project Manager Boris Bronger, of Osram. This
is a win-win situation. On the one hand, partic-
ipating households benefit. They get the
newest technology almost as a gift — the Rad-
heyshyam family paid no more for the energy-
saving lamp than for a conventional bulb, but
thanks to the lamp’s reduced power consump-
tion, it saves them cash every month. On the other hand, power supplies are im-
proved because there are fewer demand peaks,
which in turn reduces power failures in the
somewhat unstable Indian power supply net-
work. In addition, the project will help the envi-
ronment. Specifically, the new lamps will cut
emissions by around 800,000 tons over
ten years as compared with use of their con-
ventional counterparts. And Osram itself will
receive emission certificates from the UN,
which it can resell freely to refinance the proj-
ect. Osram is confident, despite the high initial
investment of the project, that a new business
model can be created in this way. The pilot region for the exchange of bulbs
was the Federal State of Andhra Pradesh on In-
dia’s east coast. “The response to the informa-
tion events that Osram mounted in coopera-
tion with the local power supply company was
very positive,” says Bronger. “Residents are
happy that they are not only saving power and
money with the new technology but also help-
How Much CO
Does a Lamp Save?
The UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was enshrined in the Kyoto Protocol. Its calcula-
tions are based on how much greenhouse gas a region would produce if everything were to continue
as it has up to now. How much of this could be avoided using energy-saving lamps is then calculated.
The savings actually realized must be verified by independent organizations accredited by the UN — for
example by Germany’s TÜV. This is a complex process. Osram submitted its methodology in 2004, and
it was approved in 2007. Since April 2008, Osram has been the first lighting manufacturer anywhere
to replace incandescent bulbs with energy-saving lamps in accordance with this concept. The first port
of call is India, but future plans include other countries, principally in Africa and Asia. To calculate the
amount of CO
saved, a random survey of Dulux EL Longlife lamps’ lifelong electricity use is conducted.
Osram experts estimate that the lamp will save roughly one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity dur-
ing its service life. In India, because of the large number of coal-fired power plants, CO
emissions per
MWh vary according to region between 0.85 and 1.0 tons (the global average of all power plants is
0.575 tons). In countries such as Brazil, which rely heavily on hydro-electric power, the CO
-saving ef-
fect would be considerably less — which is why not all countries are suitable for such CDM projects.
For each ton of CO
saved, Osram receives an emission certificate from the UN. Since these certificates
can be traded freely, the price they can command is variable.Schwarzfischer / Lackerschmid
It can be switched on and off countless times,
and can handle power failures. What’s more, its
mercury content is extremely low, which is an
advantage for the environment. For all the
complicated organization involved in the cam-
paign, the Radheyshyams do not have to con-
cern themselves with the process. While watch-
ing the new energy-saving lamp being
in stalled, the father merely has to sign a form,
which he also marks with a cross to indicate
which lamp was replaced. In the next ten years,
he’s unlikely to have to buy a new lamp, and
will save money in the bargain. Given that a
kilowatt-hour of electricity costs around 5.5
euro cents in India and that a single lamp will
save up to a megawatt-hour over ten years, the
family’s electricity bill will be cut by €55. “For
the lamp itself the users pay a small symbolic
amount, so they get the feeling that they have
invested in progress,” says Bronger. The Rad-
heyshyams pay 25 euro-cents for the Dulux EL
Longlife. Even in India, that’s a bargain. Daniel Schwarzfischer
106 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009
Energy Efficiency | Lamps
Kroban’s dissertation serves as a valuable
foundation for further environmental balance
sheets being drawn up by Osram for new prod-
ucts. “Our goal is to market only those products
that are more environmentally friendly than
their predecessors,” says Merz. With this in
mind, the company is producing an environ-
mental balance sheet for light-emitting diodes.
These pinhead-sized lamps can already com-
pete with fluorescent lamps in terms of effi-
ciency, and use of new materials should signifi-
cantly increase their luminous efficiency. At the same time, a lamp developed on the
basis of environmental criteria is worthless if
no one buys it. “That’s why we always have to
determine how appealing a lamp is to con-
sumers,” Merz explains. Such a study could ne-
cessitate altering lamp shapes to conform with
consumer tastes, even if a different design
would offer a technologically superior solution.
It’s also important that the lamps have a dim-
mer function and can be easily integrated into
existing lighting systems. Of course, they should also emit pleasant,
natural-looking light. After all, environmen-
tally-sound lighting should create a relaxing ef-
fect. But there’s no time to relax for Osram’s
lamp developer. They’re already busy working
on the next generation of innovative lighting
systems. Andrea Hoferichter
The DULUX EL’s Energy Consumption and CO
Emissions are more than 80% Lower than those of
Light Bulbs over a 15,000-Hour Life Span
15 x 60 W light bulbs (1,000 h each)
0.18 kg CO
/lamp x 15 = 2.7 kg CO
39.78 kg CO
/lamp x 15 =
596.7 kg CO
Total: 599.4 kg CO
0.33 kg CO
/lamp x 7.5 = 2.5 kg CO
55.7 kg CO
/lamp x 7.5 =
417.7 kg CO
Total: 420.2 kg CO
0.87 kg CO
/lamp x 1= 0.87 kg CO
109.4 kg CO
/lamp x 1 =
109.4 kg CO
Total: 110.3 kg CO
7.5 x 42 W HALOGEN ENERGY SAVER (2,000 h each)
1 x 11 W DULUX EL LONGLIFE (15,000 h)
599.4 kg CO
9,723 MJ
of primary energy used
6,817 MJ
1,789 MJ
420.2 kg CO
110.3 kg CO
-2,906 MJ
-7,934 MJ
-30% CO
-81% CO
Source: OSRAM
“That’s a good idea — and we’ve already got
the lamps in stock to replace them with,” he
says. Comparing Life Spans. For the sake of com-
parison, Osram scientists have examined the
energy consumption and life spans of various
types of lamps. Among the light sources com-
pared were a 75-watt incandescent bulb and a
15-watt Osram Dulux EL Longlife energy-sav-
ing lamp, both of which have practically the
same brightness. What the researchers found
was a huge difference in energy consumption.
Not only is this due to the fact that the energy-
saving lamp can convert more electricity into
light than heat; it’s also because the energy-
saving lamp can operate for 15,000 hours, or
15 times longer than the incandescent bulb.
The collective energy consumption of 15 light
bulbs is therefore five times higher than that of
a single energy-saving lamp that burns for ex-
actly the same amount of time. Conversely, an energy-saving lamp saves a
total of one megawatt-hour of electricity dur-
ing the same operating life span, which corre-
sponds to half-a-ton less in carbon dioxide
emissions than a conventional bulb. “That’s
more than a tree can absorb during the same
period,” says Merz. The modest energy con-
sumption of fluorescent lamps also saves
money. Although they cost around €10 more
than a conventional light bulb, fluorescent
lamps pay for themselves after about 800
hours of operation — and save their owners
€250 over their entire life span.
Moreover, because they are long lasting, en-
ergy-saving lamps — seen in a life-cycle con-
text — consume less energy during produc-
tion. That’s because even though the
production of one lamp requires five times the
energy used for a conventional bulb, a total of
15 bulbs would have to be produced to achieve
a similar total luminous output. Energy-saving lamps do pose one environ-
mental problem, though: They contain mer-
cury. “Without mercury, their luminous effi-
ciency would be two-thirds lower,” says Merz,
explaining why Osram still needs to use the
toxic heavy metal. Still, the lamps hold only
one tenth the mercury that fluorescent lights
had around 30 years ago. “That’s less mercury
than a coal-fired power plant releases when it
produces the electricity used by a conventional
light bulb during its lifetime,” Merz reports. Nevertheless, over the long term, mercury
will have to be eliminated from the lamps. In fact,
there is already a fluorescent car headlight on the
market known as “Xenarc Hg free” that employs
a potassium-iodine compound that produces
sufficient lighting power without any mercury. Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009 109108 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009
Energy Efficiency
| Interview Pachauri
Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri,
68, is the Chairman of the
United Nations Intergov-
ernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Represented by Dr. Pachauri
and former U.S. Vice Presi-
dent Al Gore, the IPCC was
awarded the Nobel Peace
Prize for the year 2007.
Since 1981, Dr. Pachauri
has been Director-General
of The Energy & Resources
Institute (TERI), a global organization focused on
environmental sustainabil-
ity. Pachauri holds PhDs in
Industrial Engineering and
Economics. He has been a
member of the Economic
Advisory Council to the
Prime Minister of India, the
Advisory Board on Energy,
which reported directly to
the Prime Minister, and a
Senior Advisor to the Administrator of the United
Nations Development Program.
Interview conducted in
Spring, 2009
Reflecting on the Simple Things
What are the most significant environmen-
tal threats faced by India?
We are confronted by a range of
environmental threats, from soil degradation
and water and air pollution to deforestation
and loss of biodiversity. All of these are being
affected by climate change on an increasing
scale. This set of impacts will affect every seg-
ment of our economy and of our population.
What is India doing about these threats?
We have very strong legislation, a strong NGO movement, and a very active
press. So it is not easy to pollute without at-
tracting a lot of attention. But unfortunately,
when coordinated action is required, we have
work with our government on a set of policies
that contribute to energy-efficient solutions.
What technologies should be emphasized?
Renewable energy technologies
have enormous potential in this country. In
Delhi, my institute is working with a group of
investors to develop a large-scale solar-thermal
generation facility. We are talking about 3,000
to 5,000 MW. This is the kind of thing where
Siemens can do a great deal. My institute has
also launched a program called “Lighting a Billion Lives” — in which Siemens is involved
through its Osram subsidiary. Here, we are trying to address the problem of the 1.6 billion
people worldwide who have no access to elec-
not been very successful. And to be quite hon-
est, some of our enforcement mechanisms are
weak, and not as effective as they should be.
Many countries want to cut their CO
emissions below 1990 levels. Should In-
dia be working along these lines as well?
As far as CO
is concerned, India
does not have any goals. And legitimately,
there can’t be any at this point because our per
capita emissions are about 1.1 tons per person
per year, compared to over 20 for the U.S. De-
veloped countries are the big polluters and the
ones who have caused the problem. If they don’t
move, I don’t think there is any basis at all for a developing country like India, where 400 mil-
lion people do not have access to electricity, to
reduce its emissions. It would be unethical and
totally inequitable. It is up to the developed
countries to make the first move. The empha-
sis in India is on reducing local pollution.
Nevertheless, energy efficiency is in India’s best interest…
Certainly. We have a serious prob-
lem of energy shortages. And if we can use en-
ergy more efficiently, then more of it becomes
available for others to use.
Are there ways in which a company like
Siemens can help?
Being a technology leader, Siemens
can certainly make a major difference. One of
the most important things such companies can
do is to work with partners to ensure that tech-
nologies are customized for Indian conditions
in such a way that they can be applied on a
large scale. The corporate sector should also
tricity. To help them we have developed a solar
lantern and solar-powered village charging sta-
tion where people can drop off their lamps for
charging during the day.
Where will India be in 20 years? Pachauri:
I would like to see much greater use
of renewable energy in this country because
we have wind, solar, and biomass in abundance.
I would also like to see much more R&D with a
view to using agricultural residues on a large
scale, perhaps converting these to liquid fuels.
For instance, my institute is engaged in a large-
scale project for growing jatropha for biodiesel.
This plant grows under degraded land conditions,
requires little moisture, and does not in any way
affect food prices or displace food production.
So my vision is to see India move rapidly toward
large-scale exploitation of renewable energy
sources, while ensuring that these resources
are accessible to the poorest of the poor.
What policies are needed to accomplish
We will need fiscal incentives and
disincentives. For instance, we have done a
study for the Ministry of Finance on taxation of
automobiles, and to an extent the government
has implemented its recommendations. We
now have differential taxes on small cars as
opposed to big cars. In the area of energy-effi-
cient buildings, my institute has been in the
lead. In fact, one of our buildings, which is a
major training complex, uses no power from
the grid at all. A network of tunnels beneath
the building ensures a constant temperature,
and a solar chimney allows hot air from the
south-side rooms to escape. We need a shift in
direction in this country that has to translate
into incentives and disincentives and, most im-
portant, much greater public awareness. For
instance, it should be clear to people that
there is an economic benefit to them when
they build an energy-efficient building. So I
think we need to reorient our fiscal instru-
ments such that they carry us to a state of en-
vironmental sustainability.
What’s the role of the Internet in this?
Fortunately, the government is
working to make the Internet accessible to
more and more people in India. But there are
many associated problems. For instance, in ru-
ral areas with no electricity, how can you run a
computer? So we need a package of solutions
that provide electricity, which is a precondition
for the Internet. And this is again an area
where a company like Siemens can get in-
volved to come up with renewable energy
technologies that can be used on a decentral-
ized, distributed basis, thus making it possible
to access the benefits of the Internet. What can individuals do to help the environment?
One area where I think many con-
sumers can make a difference is by simply eat-
ing less meat. The meat cycle is very intensive
in terms of energy consumption. The Food &
Agriculture Organization did a study on this.
They found that the entire livestock cycle ac-
counts for 18% of all greenhouse gases pro-
duced on this planet. So I’ve been telling peo-
ple to eat less meat. This goes hand in hand
with other lifestyle changes. We need to start
reflecting on the simple things — things like
using lights at home. When I step out of my of-
fice, as a matter of habit, I switch off the
lights, even if it’s for five minutes. We should
also encourage people to walk and use bicy-
cles more. What recommendations would you give
the Obama Administration?
All I would ask President Obama to
do is to live up to the promises he has made. It
is not going to be easy. But if he just does what
he has stated, I think the U.S. will be pretty
much on its way to bringing about improve-
ments at the global level and certainly for its
own citizens. Arthur F. Pease
| Off-Grid Solutions
New Sources of Hope
Siemens is testing new technologies that will help developing economies and their poorest citizens.
ngineers at Siemens Corporate Technol-
ogy’s (CT) Renewable Energy Innovation
Center in Bangalore, India are developing what
amounts to a portable power plant. Already op-
erating so efficiently that it meets U.S. emis-
sion requirements, the plant needs about 35 kg
of coconut shells per hour to generate enough
electricity for a typical Indian village of 50 to
100 families. “Our partial oxidation combustion
process produces a hydrogen and carbon
monoxide gas that is fed into a reciprocating
internal combustion engine that generates
25 to 300 kW of electricity,” explains Peeush
Kumar, who is responsible for energy systems
development at CT India. “What is unique about
our solution is that, thanks to new electrostatic
precipitator technology now being developed
in Munich, it will require very little cooling wa-
ter. What’s more, it produces carbon ash that
can be converted into activated charcoal for lo-
cal water purification and can even become a
significant source of revenue if sold externally.
A Corkscrew that Purifies Waste Water. If
there’s one thing that no one can do without, it
is clean, safe water. Here, Siemens is develop-
ing solutions that will transform the lives of
people rich and poor. In Bangalore, for in-
stance, Siemens researchers are developing a
sewage treatment system that can already re-
move 95% of organic substances and up to
99% of nutrients such as nitrogen and phos-
phates from effluent without any outside
power source. “Most sewage treatment facili-
ties have very high energy requirements be-
cause they rely on powerful aerators to support
the bacteria that metabolize organic matter,”
explains Senior Research Engineer Dr. Anal
Chavan. “But with our unique system, specially-
adapted microorganisms produce the oxygen
themselves.” Shaped something like a
corkscrew, the treatment system can be pow-
ered by the force of effluent as it cascades
downward, thus turning the corkscrew and ex-
posing the water to its surface area, which is
colonized with bacteria. Adds Dr. Zubin Varghese, department head
for smart innovations at Siemens Corporate
Technology India, “the same technology — but
with different organisms — can be adapted to
treating water contaminated with chemical or
petroleum wastes.” CT India is now working with Siemens Water
Technologies to identify a village for a pilot fa-
cility for the new treatment technology. “This is
a perfect example of a technology that can be
scaled up to any desired size, trucked into a vil-
lage, and can, with only minimal additional
treatment — possibly based on the activated
charcoal from our coconut gasification system
— turn sewage water into potable water.”
Arthur F. Pease
Siemens researchers in Bangalore have developed a self-powered algae-based sewage treatment system and
a mobile power plant that runs on coconut shells. The plant’s ash can be used for water purification.
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009 111110 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009
Energy Efficiency
| Appliances
he number-one manufacturer of home ap-
pliances in Western Europe, Bosch und
Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH (BSH) of Munich,
Germany is committed to minimizing the envi-
ronmental impact of its products. “Before we
develop any new household appliance, we al-
ways conduct a thorough analysis of its poten-
tial impact,” says Dr. Arno Ruminy of the BSH
Environmental Protection department. In fact,
a strict internal guideline stipulates that all
At the heart of Siemens’ new dryer is an innovative
heat pump (right). Designed to be the most efficient
dryer on the market (center), blueTherm passed endurance tests (left) with flying colors.
Once considered to be power gluttons, dryers are becom-
ing much more conservative in their energy demand. For
instance, Siemens’ new blueTherm heat-pump dryer con-
sumes 40 percent less energy than is permitted within Europe’s top Energy Efficiency Class A — a new record. A visit to the developers at BSH Bosch und Siemens Haus-
geräte in Berlin reveals how they achieved this success.
washing machines, refrigerators, and dryers
must have a minimal impact on the environ-
ment in all phases of their life cycles. Before the
development process even begins, each prod-
uct idea is carefully examined in order to iden-
tify the most environmentally-compatible and
recycle-friendly materials, determine the areas
where material savings can be achieved, and
produce a design that allows the easy replace-
ment of used parts. “Every new device must be
better than its predecessor in terms of environ-
mental protection,” says Ruminy. By designing energy efficient appliances,
BSH is also meeting the needs of its customers.
That’s because appliances still account for
around 40 percent of total energy consump-
tion in private households — despite the effi-
ciency gains achieved with refrigerators and
such over the last ten years. Life cycle studies
carried out by BSH environmental experts also
show that such appliances mainly impact the
environment through electricity and water con-
sumption when they’re being used. “Transport
and recycling play only a minor role, and re-
source consumption in production accounts for
only a small percentage of the total resources
used. In contrast, operation is responsible for
more than 90 percent of the overall environ-
mental impact of most appliances,” says Ru-
miny. In the case of dryers, this figure is as high
as 97 percent. “Making things more efficient
here will benefit the environment and save
consumers money,” Ruminy says.
Heat Pump Strategy. Back in August 2006,
BSH engineer Kai Nitschmann was given the
assignment to develop a clothes dryer
equipped with heat-pump technology that
would outperform all other dryers on the mar-
ket in terms of energy efficiency. The first thing
Nitschmann and his colleagues did was to de-
fine target values. “We were looking to achieve
energy consumption of 2.1 kilowatt-hours for
seven kilograms of laundry, which was just
slightly above the world record at that time,”
Nitschmann recalls. His development team at BSH’s Berlin plant
started out by disassembling all types of dryers,
counting their nuts and bolts, and weighing
their plastic parts. They also measured the dry-
ers’ energy consumption and loudness. Their
analysis resulted in the conclusion that the only
way to achieve their ambitious energy effi-
ciency goals was to use a heat pump — a tech-
nology that had never before been used in a
dryer. “A heat pump prevents the energy con-
tained in the vapor and hot air from escaping
from the dryer,” says Nitschmann. The results of the team’s efforts are pre-
served in a glass case in Nitschmann’s office.
There are, for example, copper arteries through
which a coolant flows. Circulation is main-
tained by a powerful electric motor whose out-
put is four times that of the motor that turns
the dryer drum. A compressor pumps the con-
densed and thus heated coolant into the cop-
per pipes, which repeatedly twist through two
aluminum frames. The first of these frames is a
Miracle in the Laundry Room
heating unit in which the coolant transfers the
heat it contains to the circulating air. This
heated air then flows into the dryer drum,
where it absorbs moisture. A second aluminum frame works as a
cooler. When hot, humid air returns from the
drum, it comes into contact with this frame,
which has been cooled down by the cooled
coolant. Moisture condenses as the air cools,
and the heat obtained from the air is then
transferred back into the coolant. “The energy
in the hot dryer air and in the vapor is tem-
porarily stored in the coolant and then used for
heating purposes,” Nitschmann explains. Ruminy points out that the coolant, which is
known as R407c, conducts heat very effec-
tively, which significantly reduces energy con-
sumption. Unfortunately, however, it is also a
greenhouse gas, which is why BSH commis-
sioned the Institute for Applied Ecology in
Freiburg, Germany to determine whether the
heat pump approach made sense. As Ruminy
explains, the institute established that “the
lower energy consumption by far offsets the
greenhouse gas potential involved.” The
Freiburg experts did, however, emphasize the
importance of effective recycling. Specifically,
steps would have to be taken to ensure that the
dryer’s coolant, like that of a refrigerator,
would be disposed of properly and not released
into the environment at the end of the ma-
chine’s service life. Meanwhile, developers in Berlin were faced
with the challenge of incorporating heat-pump
technology into a dryer for the first time, since
up until that point they had been used only in
refrigerators, air conditioners and heating
units. “If it hadn’t been for our Spanish col-
leagues’ experience with air conditioners, we
wouldn’t have succeeded so quickly,” says
Nitschmann. The team in Berlin also had to in-
tegrate a second new technology for optimiz-
ing efficiency: an innovative lint cleaner for the
“Tiny pieces of lint in the wash can eventu-
ally clog condenser frames — and that nega-
More than 90 percent of the environmental impact of
household appliances results from their operation.
Global Market for Environmental Technologies: One Trillion Euros Absolute growth of annual market volume 2005–2020 (in billions of euros) CAGR 2005–2020
Key technologies
Source: Roland Berger
Energy efficiency 5% Measuring and control technology, electric motors
Sustainable water management 6% Decentralized water treatment
Energy generation 7% Renewable energy sources, clean power generation
Sustainable mobility 5% Alternative drive systems, clean engines
Natural resource & material efficiency 8% Biofuels, bioplastics
Closed systems, waste, recycling 3% Automated material separation processes
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009 113
The Energy-Efficiency Pay Off
| Facts and Forecasts
he purpose of energy-efficient products is to help de-
couple economic growth from energy consumption.
Whereas the global market volume for energy-efficient
products and solutions totaled €450 billion in 2005, that
figure could rise to approximately €900 billion by 2020,
according to an analysis conducted by the Roland Berger
consulting firm. The effects of the current economic crisis
were not taken into account in the study, but various new
stimulus programs that focus on the application of energy-
efficient solutions make the future look bright for the sec-
or. Among growth drivers here are energy-saving motors.
According to the German Copper Institute, use of a high-
efficiency motor to drive a cooling water pump at full ca-
pacity for 8,000 hours a year can reduce energy costs by
€405 if such a motor replaces a 30 kW standard motor.
Given procurement costs of €1,650 for the high-efficiency
motor and €1,300 for the standard motor, the amortiza-
tion period for the additional cost of the energy-saving
motor is only 9.5 months. In combination with frequency converters, for exam-
ple, energy-saving motors can help reduce the amount of
electricity needed by pumping systems, which according
to the EU Commission, account for four percent of global
electricity consumption. An important market for this sec-
tor is India, where business with pumps and compressors
for use in the construction industry, infrastructure proj-
ects, agriculture, and the processing industry is booming.
According to the Indian Pump Manufacturers Association
(IPMA), the sector’s market volume increased at an annual
rate of 12–15 percent between 2003 and 2006, when it
totaled approximately €1.8 billion.
The U.S. is another major market that offers great po-
tential for energy-efficient products. An American Solar
Energy Society (ASES) study found that market volume for
energy-efficient household appliances, lamps, computer
equipment, and buildings (including windows and doors)
was $160 billion in 2006 and will nearly double by 2030.
Developments here are driven mainly by energy-efficient
buildings, but energy-saving lamps — from high-pressure
gas-discharge lamps to LEDs — are also in demand.
Measures to boost energy efficiency in buildings and
households also pay off in Germany, where, for example,
insulation of a basement ceiling in a one-family house
costs approximately €2,000 and reduces heating costs by
€150 a year. Combined with a subsidy from the govern-
ment’s building renovation program, this investment will
pay for itself in around ten years — or even sooner if oil
and gas prices increase. A high-efficiency refrigerator
A++) is about €50 more expensive than a less efficient
device, but will save its user €11 a year. Investment in en-
ergy-saving lamps also pays off, as their higher procure-
ment costs compared to conventional incandescent light
bulbs are amortized after as little as 240 hours of opera-
tion — which is why the EU plans to ban the use of light
bulbs soon. Some 3.7 billion incandescent light bulbs are
now being used in Europe, compared to only around 500
million energy-saving lamps. Sylvia Trage
Amortization Periods of Energy-Efficient Solutions
Amortization period for additional costs (through energy savings) Source: Own research
Energy-saving lamp vs. incandescent lamp of the same brightness
Conversion from incandescent to LED traffic lights Speed-controlled energy-saving motor vs. conventional motor
A++ refrigerator vs. an appliance in a lower efficiency class Energy-efficiency-based building renovation through technical measures
Energy-efficient solutions for rail vehicles
Optimization of control system at combined cycle power plant** (p. 88)
800 hours of operation
About 5 years
0.5–2 years
4–5 years
5–10 years
2–3 years
About 1 year
* Based on a family of 4 using a dryer 229 times per year. **Based on 50 starts per year and €80 per megawatt
112 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009
Energy Efficiency
| Appliances
tively affects heat transfer,” says Nitschmann.
The team rejected the conventional solution of
removing lint with a filter. “The user would
then have to clean, wash, and dry several
filters — it’s simply too much effort,” says
Nitschmann. In addition, tests conducted at BSH labs
showed the energy efficiency of a so-called A-
Dryer falls to the level of a less efficient C or D-
Dryer if the filters aren’t regularly cleaned. En-
gineers therefore came up with a completely
new solution: a type of shower for the con-
denser. Here, the condensate is pumped into a
container on top of the dryer and then pumped
out again four times per drying cycle, rushing
over the condenser like a waterfall, and thus
washing away the lint. “Energy consumption
here is consistently low over the dryer’s entire
Condensate washes away lint, which reduces energy consumption, and eliminates the need for a filter.
Source: BSH
Distribution of Impact over Appliance Life Cycle
(Consumption of raw materials, energy, and water)
(Energy consumption for merchandise transport)
(Consumption of water, energy, and chemicals)
* Depending on product and use
(Consumption of raw materials,
energy, and water)
Raw materials
(Non-ferrous metals, steel, plastics, glass, other)
90-95%* of appliance’s total environmental impact
< 0.5%
< 0.5%
service life — and the customer doesn’t have to
do anything,” says Nitschmann.
While all these technical questions were be-
ing addressed and prototypes were being im-
proved under various test conditions in the
labs, Nitschmann began considering which
production lines could accommodate the new
dryers, which tools and machines should be
used, and whether suppliers would be able to
provide enough compressors in time to meet
pre-series production. Despite these pressures, everything went
according to plan. The pre-series machines
were put to work drying one wash load after
another in the huge testing hall at the BSH
plant. In the end, each one handled about
2,000 washes. “These endurance tests ensure
that our appliances will operate error-free for
ten to 15 years,” says Nitschmann.
Champion Energy Saver. The result of all this
development work was launched in September
2008 in the form of a dryer known as
blueTherm. The appliance uses only half as
much electricity as a conventional Efficiency
Class B condenser dryer, and 40 percent less
energy than the permitted limit for a Class A
machine, which itself appeared unattainable
just a few years ago. “In other words, we really
are the energy-saving world champion,” says
Nitschmann. That’s not all. Freiburg’s Institute for Applied
Ecology also found that the heat-pump dryer’s
overall environmental impact is only around
half that of a conventional air-vented dryer.
“The dryer is in some cases even more econom-
ical than a clothesline,” says Carl-Otto Gensch,
who managed the institute’s study. “Contrary
to popular belief, you don’t necessarily con-
serve energy by hanging up the wash to dry.
For instance, if you do so in a heated room,
you’ll use more energy than the heat-pump
dryer consumes.” Although at around €1,000, blueTherm is
more expensive than a conventional dryer, the
investment pays off. According to the institute,
blueTherm consumes 1.9 kilowatt-hours per
load, or 10 percent less than was originally
planned. A normal air-vented dryer needs 4.1
kilowatt-hours for one load — so assuming
average use and German electricity prices,
blueTherm will cost €18 per year, while a
conventional air-vented dryer will cost approxi-
mately €50.
And operating costs are expected to be re-
duced even further in the future. “We’re contin-
ually working to enhance efficiency,”
Nitschmann reports. “There’s definitely poten-
tial for improvement.” For example, use of al-
ternative coolants and improved drive motors
for the cooling cycle could save a few kilowatt-
hours. Consumers, in any case, need no further
convincing. BSH marketing experts had ex-
pected to sell 10,000 units in blueTherm’s first
three months on the market — but the com-
pany ended up selling 50,000 instead.
Ute Kehse
BlueTherm dryer compared to efficiency class “B” dryer* (p. 110) About 3.9 years
World record: The blueTherm dryer uses only half as
much electricity as a conventional dryer. Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008 115
window shutters and lighting. By mid-2008, a
large-scale study provided more numbers for
hundreds of different scenarios and about a
dozen locations — figures for one-room offices
and for suites in Zurich, London, Vienna and
Marseille, for example. The EMPA contributed its expertise in build-
ing modeling. “In practical applications, the ex-
pense of installation and operation must be as
low as possible,” says Thomas Frank, a Senior
Scientist in the Building Technologies depart-
ment. In this regard, one issue that still has to
be resolved is how simple the models can be
while still achieving satisfactory operation of
the control system. “Probably about a dozen
parameters will be needed,” Frank estimates.
“All of that can theoretically be calculated from
the blueprint of the architect. What we still
don’t have are standardized interfaces between
the architects’ CAD programs and the building
management software.”
Weather Data Via the Internet. Since early
2008, MeteoSchweiz has been using a weather
model with a spatial resolution of 2.2 kilo -
meters. Based on ground-level grid squares with
this edge length, 60 layers of the atmosphere
are defined, and MeteoSchweiz’s computer cal-
culates the future weather for each cell. This
makes local forecasts much more precise than
previously, when the model had a grid resolu-
tion of seven kilometers. “The objective of
saving energy is worth almost any amount of
effort,” says Dr. Philippe Steiner, who oversees
the development of models at MeteoSchweiz.
The organization’s meteorologists provide infor-
mation on 24 weather parameters, each of
which can predict conditions for three days on
an hour-by-hour basis. The data includes tem-
peratures and information on wind speed and
solar radiation. In the future, it will be transmit-
ted directly into buildings via the Internet.
“Processing the data to generate forecasts
involves a huge amount of mathematical calcu-
lation,” says Professor Manfred Morari, head of
the Automatic Control Laboratory of the ETH
Zurich. “As it plans the next control command,
OptiControl has to take into account the fact
that more, as yet unknown information will be
added in the form of new weather forecasts.”
For each additional step of advanced planning,
the number of possibilities increases by a factor
of ten to 100. The trick is to get a simple micro-
processor to perform these complex calcula-
tions. “OptiControl makes no sense if you need
a supercomputer for it,” says Morari. “The issue
of what the market will accept is essential.” This
understanding of the customer’s needs is con-
tributed by Siemens, with its worldwide pres-
ence and many years of experience. The OptiControl project will end in 2010,
and its first products aren’t expected to appear
before then. “Ultimately, the software could run
on a small automation station on the wall,” pre-
dicts Tödtli. “No special PC will be required and
the hardware for building control won’t be ex-
pensive either.” As this scenario approaches re-
ality, field tests are taking place at Siemens BT’s
laboratory in Zug. There, entire rooms are being
set up to analyze the effects of a huge climate
control system that generates artificial environ-
mental conditions. The scientists can thus
measure how well a building control system re-
acts to fluctuating outside temperatures and
how precisely it can adjust the required room
climate. OptiControl will also have to demon-
strate its potential in that setting. “More than
anything else, a good cost-benefit ratio is im-
portant,” says Tödtli.Christian Buck
here are some ideas that take a long time
to mature. A good example is the concept
of using our increasingly accurate weather
forecasts to optimize a range of building func-
tions. Heating, for example, could be automati-
cally increased when a cold front is on the way
and reduced as soon as warmer temperatures
are predicted. This would ensure a comfortable
room climate and save on energy.
But today’s building automation systems
usually measure only current ambient values such as the outside temperature and
incident solar radiation to control heating, air-
conditioning systems and window blinds. At
most, a smart building manager might occa-
sionally adjust these systems as appropriate
depending on the forecast and personal experi-
ence. But today’s systems are not set up to per-
form such adjustments automatically. That is
expected to change in a few years. To facilitate this change, Swiss researchers
intend to combine modern weather forecasts
with innovations in building technology and
control engineering in a project called “Opti-
Control.” One member of the project is the
Siemens Building Technologies Division
(Siemens BT) in Zug, near Zurich. “The objec-
tive is maximum comfort with minimal energy
Energy Efficiency
| Predictive Building Management
114 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2008
basic outlines of the project and contributed its
knowledge of the market for control engineer-
ing in buildings.
Self-Sufficient Alpine Hut. A first impression
of OptiControl is provided by the Monte-Rosa
Alpine Hut of the Swiss Alps Club (SAC), which
opened in the Fall of 2009. The hut is a joint
project of ETH Zurich and SAC, with support
coming from numerous sponsors and partners.
The hut’s automation system was supplied by
Siemens. Since the hut is located at an altitude
of 2,883 meters, it must be largely self-suffi-
cient. Power will be supplied by a photovoltaic
system supported when necessary by a com-
bined heat and power unit operated with lique-
fied petroleum gas. OptiControl helps to manage the building.
“For instance,” explains Tödtli, “when the bat-
tery and the wastewater tank are half full and
sunshine is predicted in the near future, the
control system might initiate the wastewater
purification process, which consumes electric-
ity.” This way, the system prevents solar energy
from remaining unused due to premature
charging of the battery. On the other hand, if
bad weather is forecast, the purification
process will be stopped, because otherwise
Forecasts that Come Home
Regional weather forecasts are becoming increasingly detailed. Researchers in Switzerland hope to use this data to automatically optimize energy use in buildings
while keeping costs to a minimum. Siemens engineers are providing practical help.
costs,” says Dr. Jürg Tödtli, manager of the Eu-
ropean research activities for heating, ventila-
tion and climate-control products at Siemens
BT. “Of course, before the project ends, we won’t
know how beneficial weather forecasts are, but I
see a major opportunity here.” Since May 2007, about a dozen researchers
and five institutions have been involved in
OptiControl. In addition to Siemens, the latter
include the Swiss Federal Office for Meteorol-
ogy and Climatology (MeteoSchweiz) in Zurich,
the Research Institute for Materials Science and
Technology (EMPA) in Dübendorf, and two in-
stitutes of the Swiss Federal Institute of Tech-
nology (ETH) Zurich: the Automatic Control
Laboratory and the Systems Ecology Group of
the Institute for Integrative Biology. The project also includes three Siemens em-
ployees. In addition, Siemens BT developed the
there would be a risk of using up the power re-
serve in the battery and having to switch to the
precious liquefied petroleum gas. In addition to such “rule-based” processes,
OptiControl offers “model-based predictive
control,” in which it uses a model for the ther-
mal behavior of the building. In this case, the
automatic control mechanism must be fed with
data such as the heat transfer coefficient of the
walls and the heat storage capacity. In combi-
nation with the weather forecast, prior user
settings, and measurements for the tempera-
ture inside and outside, the control system can
then calculate the optimal profile for the tem-
perature of the heating water, for example.
Functions of this sort are not possible without
powerful electronics. “I wrote the first essay on
the use of weather forecasts for building au-
tomation over 20 years ago,” recalls Tödtli. “But
only now are there processors that have
enough power and are cheap enough; our
method demands a lot of memory and compu-
tational capacity.” Every 15 minutes, the Opti-
Control mechanism adjusts the system. To do
this, it uses not only the implemented rules and
models, as well as sensor readings, but also the
weather forecast for the next three days. “Unfortunately, no one knows the exact
cost-benefit ratio of all of this,” says Project
Manager Dr. Dimitrios Gyalistras from the Sys-
tems Ecology Group at ETH Zurich. It is there-
fore not really known at this point how much
energy can be saved with predictive control
systems in the medium to long term. Re-
searchers hope to establish more clarity in this
regard. An initial simulation indicated a poten-
tial of 15 percent in a typical office room with
integrated control of heating, air-conditioning,
Weather predictions and building automation
will be tested in a pilot facility at 2,883 meters.
Researcher Dr. Jürg Tödtli (photo below) and
partners are key players in the project.
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2007 117
gine alone produces five kilowatts of heat. An
auxiliary burner can add between 10 and 30
kilowatts, depending on its size. As a special feature, the microCHP device
can also operate independently of the grid. In
this case, it disconnects itself from the grid and
produces up to one kilowatt of emergency
power for specially vetted emergency power
groups such as refrigerators, freezers, and
emergency lighting. “That is a key differentiat-
ing feature of our device,” says Wolfgang Hu-
ber, who is responsible for development at
Siemens BT. Huge European Market. Even if its advan-
tages aren’t obvious at first glance, the mi-
croCHP device is a significant innovation. Paul
Gelderloos, manager of technical innovation at
Remeha B.V., is certain that “the device is one
of the most promising successors in the con-
densing boiler area,” he says. Georges Van
Puyenbroeck adds that, “It offers simple access
to alternative energy; installers know about
boilers, only the electrical generation is new.”
He sees great potential for the new product.
“According to our market data, seven million
wall-mounted boilers are sold in Europe every
year,” he says. Product manager Markus Herger
estimates that in its the first three years on the
market, between 50,000 and 100,000 mi-
croCHP devices could be sold — and that sales
will continue to grow after that. This depends
on how energy suppliers respond and on politi-
cal decisions. In countries where sales operations are
about to be launched — the Netherlands, then
England and Germany — there are so-called
electricity buyback laws, which promote mi-
croCHP devices. “Other countries are not yet as
advanced,” laments Herger.
After about four years of development,
Siemens’ development partners began testing
the new microCHP devices in about 400 house-
holds in Great Britain, the Netherlands, and
Germany. Experience has shown that the
added cost of a microCHP device can be amor-
tized within five years — but its price can be es-
tablished only after the partners bring the de-
vice to market. Siemens launched the production of the
control technology in September 2009. Re-
meha B.V. plans to enter the Dutch market in
spring 2010. And specialists are already work-
ing on developing the next generation of mi-
croCHP devices. These will be even smaller,
lighter, and more powerful than their predeces-
sors, and will be fired by a variety of primary
energy sources, such as oil or various gaseous
fuels from biomass.
Gitta Rohling
How to Own a Power Plant
Innovative heating systems not only provide warmth but also satisfy two thirds of the electricity demand of an average four-person household.
Energy Efficiency
| Combined Heat & Power Systems
116 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2008
emand for resource-saving heat genera-
tion systems is growing. One driver of this
development is the fact that well-insulated
new buildings and renovated older structures
have lower heating demand. In addition, en-
ergy prices as well as insecurity on the part of
consumers regarding the reliability of gas and
oil supplies are also prompting researchers and
developers to consider new heating methods.
One such method is the simultaneous gen-
eration of heat and electricity by so-called CHP
(combined heat and power) systems. These are
among the most efficient methods of energy
generation, because the fuel they use is trans-
formed into electrical energy as well as heat —
usually in the form of steam and hot water.
More than 90 percent of the energy contained
in fuel can be utilized by these systems, com-
pared with only about 38 percent for electrical
generation by a conventional power plant. This
high thermodynamic efficiency can make a
major contribution to operating economy as
well as environmental protection. Simultane-
ously, emissions of carbon dioxide and nitro-
gen oxides are reduced. Until now, CHP technology has been limited
to large installations. Although the idea of ap-
plying it to single and multi-family homes is
new; many manufacturers are already excited
about exploiting this potential. Siemens Build-
ing Technologies (BT), for instance, has devel-
oped the electronics for a gas-fired micro heat
and power cogeneration device (microCHP).
“We see a clear line of development toward the
use of personal small power plants in single-
family homes in place of oil or gas-fired boil-
ers,” says Georges Van Puyenbroeck, director of
sales and marketing at BT’s OEM Boiler &
Burner Equipment. With this goal in mind, BT
specialists are working together with manufac-
turers of condensing boilers, including Viess-
mann, Vaillant, Remeha B.V., and the Baxi
How to Generate a Kilowatt. Until now, con-
densing boilers have produced only heat, but
no electricity. MicroCHP devices, on the other
hand, can do both. They work as follows: A gas-
fired Stirling engine is integrated into a wall-
mounted boiler. The temperature difference
between the cold water and the heat provided
is used to generate electricity. Current imple-
mentations permit the generation of a maxi-
mum of one kilowatt of electrical energy, of
which about 900 watts can be used directly in
the home or fed back into the energy supplier’s
grid. The device itself uses 100 watts. For consumers, this means that they have at
their disposal their very own miniature cogen-
eration power plant, which provides not only
heat but also two thirds of an average four-per-
son household’s electricity requirements. The
remaining electricity is provided by the power
grid to which the microCHP device is normally
connected. Operation with liquefied petroleum
gas (LPG) is also possible after appropriate
readjustment of the device. Siemens electronics control the heat output
to keep the Stirling engine within its permissi-
ble operating range and provide the desired
temperatures for home heating and hot water
at the proper times. In addition, the electronics
monitor the feeding of surplus electricity back
into the power utility’s grid. Control technology from Siemens ensures
that the device, which operates in parallel to
the power grid, is able to switch on and off at
the proper times. The burner for the Stirling en-
Stirling engine
old water
Households will soon be able
to generate their own heat
and electricity using a mini
CHP device (left and above). Scientists are now fine
tuning the technology.
| Energy Storage
Piggybanks for Power
Whether at base or peak load, high-performance energy storage devices guarantee optimal power supplies in vehicles.
f electrical energy is to be optimally used, it
needs to be temporarily stored. And that’s
the case whether we’re talking about cars,
buses, streetcars, subway systems or power
distribution networks. In road vehicles, elec-
tronic components are taking over more and
more functions, partly as driver assistance sys-
tems, and partly to save energy — particularly
in hybrid vehicles that combine an electric mo-
tor with a combustion engine. The electric mo-
tor serves either a fully fledged second drive (in
a full hybrid), as an auxiliary drive to provide a
boost when starting and passing (in a mild hy-
Chemical or Electrostatic Storage?
Accumulators such as lead-acid, nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries have a service life of
between three and ten years, on average. They function on electrochemical principles. Charging the
battery converts electrical energy into chemical energy. When an electrical device is connected, chemi-
cal energy is converted back into electrical energy. Energy stores such as double layer capacitors, in
contrast, store energy electrostatically. They last almost indefinitely and exhibit high power densities.
However, their energy densities are low. For this reason, their primary use is to cover peak loads such as engine starts or acceleration in hybrid applications.
Battery type Energy density Wh/kg Power density W/kg Service life in cycles / years
Lead-acid battery 30 – 50 150 – 300 300 –1,000 / 3 – 5
Nickel-metal hydride battery 60 – 80 200 – 300 >1,000 / >5
Lithium-ion battery 90 – 150 500 – >2,000 >2,000 / 5 – 10
Supercaps (double layer capac.) 3 – 5 2,000 – 10,000 1,000,000 / unlimited
brid), or as an assistant when the vehicle has to
stop and restart frequently (in the start-stop
hybrid). In the future, full electric vehicles will
be an important addition to this list. Here, the
electric motor will play a major role in making
zero-emission mobility possible (p. 60). To meet the needs of a growing number of
functions, vehicles needs a high-performance
energy storage device. Batteries, however,
are heavy and their energy density is low. One
kilogram of diesel contains 10,000 watt-hours
(Wh), while a lead-acid accumulator manages
just 30 to 50 Wh/kg. Batteries’ power density is
0.1 s
Comparison of Battery Systems
Power density in watts per kilogram (W/kg)
100 1,000 10,000
Energy density in watt-hours per kilogram (Wh/kg)
10,000 s
1,000 s
100 s
10 s
1 s
Double layer capacitors
Electrolytic capacitors
Pictures of the Future | Special Edition on Green Technologies 119
elaro will have to prove itself from day one
in Russia, where it will immediately be put
into operation on the Moscow-St. Petersburg
line during the grueling north Eurasian winter
at the end of 2009. The train will therefore
have to face frost, ice storms, and heavy
snows. But that shouldn’t be a problem since
the Sapsan (Russian for “peregrine falcon” as
the Velaro is known in the country) seems to
have been tailor-made for such a climate. As
Russia’s first-ever high-speed train, the Velaro
was given a winter-proof design consisting of
steel, plastic, special lubricants, and numerous
safety features. The train was also thoroughly
tested in a wind and weather tunnel to prepare
it for temperatures that can get as low as minus
50 degrees Celsius. Engineers at the Rail Tec Ar-
senal (RTA) testing facility in Vienna actually
deep-froze the train in order to verify the per-
formance of all systems under bone-chilling
conditions before sending it out into the real
Russian winter. The latest addition to the Velaro series of
high-speed trains built by Siemens’ Mobility Di-
vision is the Russian Sapsan. The sleek red-
white-and-blue train is based on the Deutsche
Bahn railroad company’s ICE 3 model, although
the two are only similar on the surface — ex-
cept for the color, of course. There are notable
differences on the inside, however, as the Sap-
san required several important changes, most
of which will never be noticed by passengers.
For one thing, the Sapsan is 33 centimeters
wider than the German national railway com-
pany’s ICE 3, which also makes it bigger in gen-
eral. One reason for this is that the track gauge
on Russian rail lines is 85 millimeters wider
than in Germany. Hundreds of Sensors. In addition, the Russ-
ian Velaro takes in air from the top rather than
the bottom, since air intake from below could
cause problems when tracks are snowed over.
To ensure that passengers remain comfortable
inside even when it’s freezing outside, the Sap-
san is equipped with 800 sensors that monitor
interior temperature, air pressure and circula-
tion, and humidity. Passengers are kept warm
by enhanced thermal insulation. The latter was
achieved by minimizing the number of thermal
bridges, which are components whose design
allows heat to flow to the outside. The train’s
insulation is also twice as thick as the German
Russia is now the third country, after Spain
and China, to choose the Velaro from Siemens
as its high-speed train. The train can be
adapted to where it’s being used. In Spain, for
example, the Velaro has been fitted with a spe-
cial air conditioning system, since passengers
there sometimes have to be protected from
outside temperatures as high as 50 degrees
Celsius. The rail grid in Spain also delivers volt-
age at 25 kilovolts rather than the 15 kilovolts
provided in Germany. One thing all the Velaros
have in common, however, is an underfloor de-
sign that has motors, brakes, and transformers
mounted beneath the rail coaches. Every other
coach is equipped with motorized running gear
and bogies. By contrast, the ICE trains of the
first and second generations (the Velaro's pred-
ecessors) were pulled by a driving unit similar
to a locomotive. The advantage offered by underfloor tech-
nology is that it provides 20 percent more space
for passengers, since the area directly behind the
train operator can be used as well. The under -
floor arrangement also directly transfers motor
The Russian version of Siemens’ Velaro train, the Sapsan, will enter service at the end of 2009. The train has pas sed a gamut of tests, including simulated
snow storms and -40 degree Celsius temperatures.
118 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2007
low too, reaching a maximum of 300 W/kg. For
an electric car to accelerate as rapidly as a 90
kW gasoline-engine vehicle, it would need a
300-kilogram lead-acid battery in the trunk. That’s why most of today’s hybrid vehicles
employ nickel-metal hydride batteries with a
capacity of 60 to 80 Wh/kg. Lithium-ion or
lithium-polymer batteries are even more pow-
erful, with 90 to 150 Wh/kg. Alongside storage
capacity, the service life of an accumulator is
also limited. A lead-acid battery is good for a
maximum of around 1,000 charge-discharge
cycles. Nickel-metal hydride or lithium-ion bat-
teries last considerably longer. Extremely high power density. In general,
accumulators must be charged slowly to avoid
damage. But vehicles, in particular, are associ-
ated with many applications that need a fast
charging capability — for example, when brak-
ing energy is harnessed in cars or streetcars.
With this in mind, Siemens is promoting the
use of double layer capacitors, or so-called
supercaps — devices that store electrical en-
ergy by separating the charges as soon as a
voltage is applied. Supercaps offer capacitances of 300 to
10,000 farads. Charge separation takes place
at the boundary layer between a solid body
and a liquid. High capacitances are achieved by
ensuring that the charges are separated by a
distance of only atomic dimensions, and by the
use of porous graphite electrodes with a large
specific surface area. Supercaps have low energy densities —
three to five Wh/kg — but extremely high
power densities of 2,000 to 10,000 W/kg. They
can be charged within a few seconds, and at a
million or so charge-discharge cycles, their
service life is extremely long. This is due to the
fact that the charge separation processes oc-
curring within them are purely physical in na-
ture. They can take up and release large quanti-
ties of energy extremely quickly. This makes it possible to use an electric mo-
tor in a hybrid vehicle, streetcar, or locomotive
as a generator that recovers braking energy.
This regenerated energy is stored in supercaps
and re-used when the vehicle accelerates
again. The resulting advantage is fuel and en-
ergy savings of between five and 25 percent,
depending on the driving cycle. The capacitor
packs can either be carried in the vehicle itself
or permanently built into segments of subway
lines. Such a setup has already been tested in sev-
eral subway systems — for example, in Madrid,
Cologne, Dresden, Bochum and Beijing. Super-
caps could also be used in energy distribution
applications, as power supply networks are
constantly subject to load variations to which
heavy turbines cannot react quickly enough.
Power utilities could use flexible energy stores
such as supercaps to balance out load peaks
and troughs. “In ten years, vehicles with these new stor-
age systems might be as commonplace as to-
day’s vehicles with their trusty lead-acid batter-
ies,” says Dr. Manfred Waidhas, project head for
Electrochemical Energy Storage at Siemens
Corporate Technology. Mild or start-stop hybrid
vehicles can get by with the limited energy
density of the supercaps. Bernhard Gerl
Double layer capacitors called supercaps (below) are
being used in streetcars such as the Combino Plus
(bottom). The devices release stored braking energy
quickly when the vehicle accelerates.
High- Speed Success Story
The Velaro high-speed
train is a true model of
success. It’s comfortable,
fast and, above all, eco-
nomical, as it consumes
much less energy than a
car or plane. The train
now operates in China
and Spain, and will soon
hit the rails in Russia. The
Velaro’s underfloor drive
system can be adjusted in
line with where it’s being
used. This means it can
be fitted with systems for
accommodating extreme
heat or cold as well as
mountainous routes with
steep inclines. | Rail Transport
Energy Efficiency
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009 121
| Rail Systems
he assembly hall is filled with locomotives,
some of them missing their roofs, others
without control cabins. And some are even
mounted on temporary platforms that make
them appear to be floating on air. Martin Leitel,
who is responsible for making life cycle assess-
ments of locomotives for Siemens Mobility in
Allach, Germany, points to a yellow locomotive
without a roof. “That one’s going to Australia,”
he says, a country where rail service operators
recently started making energy conservation a
At a Siemens locomotive factory in Allach, Germany, engineers use life cycle assessments that can help with the selection of the most environmentally compatible designs. Timely Trains Today’s locomotives should consume as little energy as possible — not just when they are in operation, but also during production and eventual recycling.
Life cycle assessments can help with selection of the
most environmentally-compatible designs. higher priority. In fact, the model will be the
first electric locomotive on the island continent
to be equipped with an energy recovery sys-
tem. The system collects braking energy gener-
ated on downhill stretches by trains full of coal
that are traveling from the interior of the coun-
try to the coast. It then feeds the energy into
the grid for use by empty trains going uphill. Another locomotive, Leitel explains, is for a
European leasing company. It’s equipped with
a transformer that achieves optimal efficiency
because it was built using more copper than is
usual, which also makes it heavier than similar
units. In order to compensate for the trans-
former’s additional weight, other parts of the
locomotive must be lighter, which is why its
roof is made of aluminum. Naturally, all of this
results in higher energy consumption during
manufacturing. But, as Leitel points out, after
only a few years of operation, the transformer’s
high efficiency and the aluminum’s light
weight counterbalance these energy costs.
Energy Efficiency
| Rail Transport
120 Pictures of the Future | Special Edition on Green Technologies
power to the wheels and distributes the power
more efficiently throughout the entire train. This
makes the Velaro the world’s only high-speed
train that can handle inclines of up to four per-
cent, which is what it will face along the moun-
tainous 650-kilometer high-speed route from
Barcelona to Madrid, the biggest cities in Spain.
The new route will cut travel time between the
two metropolises from six hours to only about
two and a half hours. The Velaro’s drive system
also offers the advantages of a distributed struc-
ture and uniform power transfer, which signifi-
cantly reduce component wear and tear as com-
pared to conventional traction unit concepts. Top speed of 404 km/h. The Velaro is indis-
putably the fastest multiple-unit train in the
world. When it is delivered to the customer
from the Siemens plant in Krefeld, it’s ready
to travel at a top speed of 404 kilometers per
hour. Its normal cruising speed with passengers
and luggage is up to 350 km/h, although the
speed is of course continually adjusted to the
immediate surroundings. Because of Russia’s 3-
kilovolt catenaries, the Sapsan will initially
travel at approximately 250 km/h. But even at
that speed, the train will cut travel time for the
approximately 650 km from Moscow to St. Pe-
tersburg on the Baltic Sea by 45 minutes. Still,
Russian Railways plans to expand its high-
speed network so as to allow the Sapsan to
reach higher speeds. High-speed rail links between major cities
offer a real alternative to plane and car travel in
many countries. While a trip on the new cross-
border high-speed line between the centers of
Frankfurt and Paris takes a little more than two
hours longer than a plane flight, passengers
are spared the long trip from city centers to air-
ports, not to mention the time spent for check-
in and waiting. High-speed trains are also superior in terms
of energy consumption, as a plane flying from
Frankfurt to Paris produces around 83 kilo-
grams of carbon dioxide per person, while the
Velaro generates just under 10 kilograms — or
90 percent less. Basically, the Velaro consumes
the equivalent of 0.33 liters of gasoline per
seat per 100 kilometers, which makes it far
more economical not only than a plane but
also than a car. It’s therefore not surprising that
the Velaro is an integral part of Siemens’ envi-
ronmental portfolio. Worldwide Success Story. It therefore makes
sense that high-speed trains are becoming
more and more popular. Among other things,
their use is being reconsidered in the United
States. The California High-Speed Rail Author-
ity, for example, has determined that a link be-
tween Los Angeles and San Francisco could re-
duce carbon dioxide emissions by 58,000 tons,
an amount equivalent to the savings that could
be achieved by shutting down a major coal-
fired power plant. Europe already has an extensive high-speed
rail network that is 6,000 kilometers long. In
view of the benefits offered by high-speed rail
technology, the head of Siemens Public Transit,
Ansgar Brockmeyer, is convinced that an addi-
tional 8,000 kilometers of high-speed track will
be added to the network by 2025. “Worldwide,
rail traffic volume is growing at an annual rate
of three percent, and we expect to see growth
rates as high as seven percent in Asia and Eu-
rope,” says Brockmeyer. “That makes this busi-
ness sector extremely interesting for us.”
China opted for the Velaro some time ago,
opening its first route — between Beijing and
the Olympics site in Tianjin — in time for the
2008 Summer Olympics. The Chinese Velaro,
which is also 33 centimeters wider than the
Western European train, can accommodate
600 passengers. Plans call for a Beijing-Shang-
hai high-speed line to go into operation in
2010 with 100 new Velaro trains. With 16
coaches each, these trains will be 400 meters
long, hold 1,060 passengers, and have a top
speed of 350 km/h.
The Velaro’s design, comfort, and technical
features have apparently convinced a lot of rail
operators, since the train came out on top in
five of eight calls for tenders in the past few
years. Germany’s Deutsche Bahn has also se-
lected the Velaro to succeed the ICE 3. The
company has ordered 15 new trains that will
begin operating when the 2011 winter sched-
ule goes into effect. These Velaros will be equipped with the
state-of-the-art European Train Control System
(ETCS), which represents a milestone in cross-
border train travel. Thanks to the ETCS, trains
will no longer have to slow down at national
borders in coming years. Instead, they will be
able to speed through without interruption
from northern Europe to the Mediterranean
coast. Up until now, Europe has had more than 20
different rail signaling and security systems —
but the ETCS will change that. The system will
enable the new German Velaro to travel across
borders not only to Paris, but to cities in Bel-
gium as well, thereby eliminating practically all
remaining obstacles to the consolidation of the
European high-speed rail network. Tim Schröder
The Velaro consumes the equivalent of 0.33 liters of ga so -
line per seat per 100 kilometers — much less than a car. Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009 123
will, but cautions that “the locomotive market
is price-sensitive, so the sales price is still often
decisive.” Nevertheless, customers are well aware of
the fact that the purchase price of a locomotive
is only around 15 percent of the cost of power-
ing it throughout its service life. “So a ten per-
cent higher list price for a locomotive still pays
off for the customer if energy efficiency is two
percentage points better than the competi-
tion’s,” Leitel points out. Recyclable Subway. This argument is familiar
to Dr. Walter Struckl, who works at Siemens
Mobility in Vienna, where subway trains, rail-
way cars, and trams are built. The market for
these products is also extremely price sensitive,
and energy-saving innovations here have to
pay for themselves within two to three years.
Struckl opens a copy of his doctoral disserta-
tion from Vienna Technical University. In this
work, Struckl calculated down to the last detail
the energy balance of the Oslo subway system
— probably the most efficient subway in the
world in terms of resource conservation. When
Struckl joined Siemens in 2003, it still wasn’t
possible to market the environmental aspects
of a product, but today LCAs are a normal part
of the tendering process. Life cycle costs have
to do with costs, but life cycle assessments ad-
dress environmental concerns. People tend to
confuse the two, says Struckl — but they’re not
contradictory, given that greater energy effi-
ciency usually has a rapid and positive effect on
life cycle costs. With regard to the Oslo subway system, a
total of 84 percent of its materials can be recy-
cled; the rest are burned and the resulting en-
ergy is exploited. There isn’t much left to im-
prove here because the rail cars are held to-
gether with hook-and-loop fasteners rather
than glue, for example, which makes it easy to
disassemble them. The LCA, however, can still be improved. Ex-
perts estimate that an additional 30 percent in
energy savings could be achieved in actual op-
eration and that the associated costs would be
recouped in one year, says Struckl — even
though the system already consumes around
one-third less energy than its predecessor,
mostly thanks to more efficient heating and
more effective insulation.
Mobility in Context. Struckl warns against
generalizations, explaining there is no such
thing as a “good” or “bad” LCA. Absolute num-
bers, such as those for CO
emissions, don’t re-
veal much in and of themselves. Instead, each
application scenario must be carefully studied
in context in order to develop optimal meas-
ures. Subway trains such as those in Oslo, for
example, produce only 827 metric tons of CO
during a 30-year service life — a low figure due
to the fact that 99 percent of Norway’s electric-
ity is generated with hydro power. On the other
hand, the same trains would emit 47,900 met-
ric tons of CO
equivalent if operated in the
Czech Republic because most of that country’s
electricity comes from coal-fired power plants.
But unlike Oslo’s trains, Prague’s run mostly un-
derground and its winters are warmer, mean-
ing that its trains can get by with less heating
and that an investment in improved insulation
wouldn’t really pay off anyway. What would
pay dividends, says Stuckl, would be a more ef-
ficient drive unit like the Syntegra bogie with
its permanently excited gearless electric mo-
tors, which Siemens is testing as a prototype
(see Pictures of the Future, Fall 2007, p. 70). Struckl’s goal is to turn the focus away from
the LCA of individual assemblies and toward
the overall mobility system. Siemens offers de-
vices that store braking energy either on trains
themselves or as stationary units on tracks. The
company also supplies efficient technologies
for producing electricity at power plants and
transporting it to tracks, as well as traffic man-
agement systems that intelligently network rail
and road transport. Siemens’ Complete Mobil-
ity concept attracted lots of interest at the In-
notrans fair in September 2008 in Berlin. These
days, companies in Norway receive a cash
bonus for every kilowatt-hour of energy saved;
and other countries plan to introduce emission
trading systems for the transportation sector.
“When transport companies also begin to bear
the cost of carbon dioxide emissions, many of
them will quickly become interested in our in-
novations,” predicts Struckl. Bernd Müller
A ten percent higher purchase price pays off for customers
if energy efficiency is two percentage points higher
122 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009
Energy Efficiency
| Rail Systems
Such conflicts are a part of Leitel’s routine.
In addition to conducting life cycle assessments
(LCAs), his job at the Allach locomotive factory
near Munich is to ensure coordination with
customers when drawing up custom-tailored
technical specifications for their locomotives.
Combining these two goals has proved to be a
good idea. “Customers simply want a good lo-
comotive that meets the highest environmen-
tal standards,” he says. What’s more, life cycle
analyses are often a prerequisite for taking part
in tendering processes.
Quick LCAs. Munich has been a locomotive
production site since 1841 — at one time under
the name Krauss-Maffei, whose logo still adorns
the front of the factory hall that Siemens took
over in 1999. But much has changed over the
years. While steam locomotives churned out
enormous amounts of soot and carbon dioxide,
their modern counterparts are subject to strict
environmental regulations. And it’s not just the
emissions caused by operation of these powerful
locomotives that need to be low; environmen-
tal impact throughout their entire life cycles must
also be kept to a minimum. This begins with the
manufacturing process and continues all the
way through the product’s life to disposal, which
will soon become the legal responsibility of the
manufacturer. As a result, developers must now
plan to recycle as many components as possible.
To ensure that the associated analyses —
also known as material balances — remain ac-
curate, Leitel relies on an extensive database
containing thousands of parts numbers and in-
formation on the materials used in each com-
ponent. This database reveals, for example,
that the left door of a locomotive control cabin
weighs 87.1 kilograms, including 68.1 kilos of
aluminum, 6.6 kilos of glass, and 4.2 kilos of
elastomers, with the remaining weight ac-
counted for by other materials, including steel
and insulation elements. Just a few mouse clicks is all it takes to eval-
uate specific assemblies or material classes and
determine their proportion of total weight. An-
other database lists the primary energy con-
sumption and carbon dioxide emissions associ-
ated with each material, as well as regional
differences. For example, an aluminum panel
made in Iceland, a country that uses a lot of re-
newable energy, has a much lower CO
than one from China, where most electricity is
generated in coal-fired power plants. The material analysis does not extend down
to the last bolt; this would require too much ef-
fort and expense. “We make a general estimate
of the energy consumption and emissions of
small components,” Leitel explains. The analy-
sis ultimately produces charts that show where
energy consumption is highest. With freight
trains it’s clearly locomotive operation itself.
Over a service life of roughly 30 years, a loco-
motive in Europe emits between 200,000 and
400,000 metric tons of CO
, depending on the
type of use. Locomotive production results in
only about 250 metric tons of CO
however. And the recycling phase generates
savings of 100 metric tons of CO
because over
95 percent of the materials in a modern loco-
motive are recyclable. These materials — for
the most part metals and coolants — are
reused, which obviates the CO
2 emissions that
would have been produced if the materials had
been manufactured from scratch. Materials Review. Leitel believes that the ma-
terial analysis process can be improved. “We’re
reviewing the entire range of materials now in
use,” he says. The idea is to use batteries that
don’t contain heavy metals, as well as coolants
made of biodegradable materials — and to
generally ensure that new designs have more
recyclable parts by avoiding use of composites
as much as possible. “The ideal would be to
loosen a few bolts and have the whole locomo-
tive break apart into sets of unmixed materi-
als,” Leitel explains. Not every trend is as good as it sounds,
however. Although lightweight construction
with plastics and composites reduces operating
energy consumption, it also poses recycling
problems, which means that it is not necessar-
ily good for the environment. A locomotive
also shouldn’t be too light because it has to pull
a train 20 to 30 times its own weight. When
asked if all the environmental effort that is now
being implemented will ultimately pay off in
the form of orders, Leitel says he’s certain it
A database lists the primary energy consumption and car-
bon dioxide emissions associated with different materials. To maximize the environmental compatibility of trains, workers in Allach install, among other things, highly energy-efficient LED signal lights. Siemens locomotives are designed to be efficient — for instance by returning braking energy to the grid that is generated when traveling downhill.
tem to control traffic lights on the basis of traf-
fic volumes, with a view to smoothing traffic
flow and to preventing gridlock.
Holistic Approach. “Vienna is pioneering a
holistic mobility strategy. And the city is now
putting our complete mobility concept into
practice,” says Grundmann. The goal of the
complete mobility approach is to network dif-
ferent transport systems with one another as
effectively as possible. “The realization of this complete mobility
concept involves close cooperation with
Siemens IT Solutions and Services,” Grund-
mann explains. The fruits of this collaboration
include a control system for public transport
called “PTnova” that was developed with
Wiener Linien and is now running as a pilot
project. PTnova controls all sales-related processes
such as ticketing, customer management and
the administration of season tickets. It also
automates the entire data flow. Any mobile or
static ticket machines, ticket printers, and
point-of-sale systems can be connected to PT-
nova. “The use of enhanced information and
communications technology can make mobil-
ity chains more efficient and public transport
more attractive,” says Grundmann. PTnova’s capabilities are exactly in line with
the recommendations of transport experts
from MRC McLean Hazel. Their study proposes
the use of so-called personalized smart media
for the city. This smart card-based application
would combine ticketing not only with access
to leisure activities — for example, entry to
museums, libraries, and swimming pools —
but also with special incentives such as bonus
schemes for saved CO
emissions. As a result,
it would help to attract more customers to
public transport. Nikola Wohllaib
In Brief Multiple studies have confirmed that we
face climate change brought about by green-
house gases such as CO
. To ensure the ef-
fects remain manageable, the earth’s temper-
ature must not rise by more than two degrees
Celsius. One way to accomplish this is
through energy-efficient solutions that can
rapidly and substantially reduce power con-
sumption in advanced economies. A study of
a hypothetical city provides insight into how
such solutions could work in practice. (p. 68)
China’s dramatic economic growth is
primarily fuelled by coal. In 2006 alone, 176
coal-fired power plants went on line — an av-
erage of one every two days. Thanks to
new technologies from Siemens, however,
power generation using coal is becoming
increasingly efficient and sustainable — as
shown by the Yuhuan plant, which achieves a
world-record efficiency of 45 percent (p. 76)
Siemens is developing 700-degree Celsius
technology in order to further boost the effi-
ciency of coal-fired power plants and thus cut
CO2 emissions. This higher steam tempera-
ture is expected to make it possible to achieve
50 percent efficiency. (p. 78)
Experts worldwide are working on concepts
for generating power from coal without
releasing CO
into the atmosphere. Siemens
is investing in the IGCC process, which re-
moves CO
before combustion, and flue-gas
purification methods that separate CO
wards. Scientists based in Potsdam are study-
ing how carbon dioxide can be sequestered
underground and what happens to it there.
(pp. 82, 85)
For power plants, efficiency is absolutely vital. Largely due to the economic crisis, many
operators are avoiding major new capital ex-
penditures and are modernizing existing
plants instead. Thanks to smart upgrades, fossil-fuel power plants can increase their effi-
ciency by between 10 and 15 percent. (p. 88)
At many open-pit mines, mechanical mon-
sters excavate and transport ore. Siemens is
equipping these behemoths with electric drive
systems that can move loads of up to 600 tons.
he motors are supported by current collectors
that draw power from overhead lines as if they
were streetcars, making these mining giants
fast and efficient. (p. 92)
In an interview, Rajendra K. Pachauri, Nobel
Peace Prize Laureate and Chairman of the Inter-
governmental Panel on Climate Change, says
he hopes India will make comprehensive use of
renewable energies and provide the poorest of
its citizens with access to these energy source.
Siemens is developing such kinds of regionally
customized solutions, including mobile water
treatment systems and small power plants that
generate electricity from coconuts. (p. 84)
Osram has studied the life cycles of various
lamps from production to disposal. The result:
The life cycle assessment is largely determined
by energy consumption during their operation,
with only a small fraction of consumption at-
tributable to lamp production.The key to mak-
ing lamps more environmentally friendly is thus
making them more energy-efficient. (p. 103)
Energy-efficient products are helping to decouple growth and energy consumption.
Two examples illustrate this point. Modern locomotives built in the most environmentally
possible way, in accordance with eco-balances,
and the blueTherm tumble drier that consumes
half as much as conventional dryers. (pp. 110,
113, 121)
Siemens Energy Sector
Siemens Mobility Sector
Siemens Building Technologies
EU-Project CO2 SINK:
Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum (GFZ)
EPEA Internationale Umweltforschung
Intergovernmental Panel On Climate
Change (IPCC)
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009 125
Traffic control centers, low-floor streetcars (pictured left) and many other measures have
helped turn the Austrian capital into a role model
for holistic mobility concepts. A Model of Mobility Even a city like Vienna, which boasts an excellent public transportation system, can gain added attractiveness through the use of the latest mobility concepts.
ccording to “Megacity Challenges,” a study
Siemens commissioned from UK transport
consultants MRC McLean Hazel in 2007, the
central problem facing cities with ten million
or more inhabitants is how to ensure mobility.
In a follow-up analysis — “Vienna: A Complete
Mobility Study” — the same company has now
shown that the study’s conclusions also apply
to smaller cities such as Vienna, with its 2.5
million inhabitants. Transport experts from
MRC McLean Hazel confirm that Vienna is one
the world’s most attractive places to live and a
model city for modern mobility. As a key trans-
port and logistics hub at the heart of Europe,
Vienna is currently reaping the rewards of a
long-term strategy that embraces all modes of
transport. What’s more, the city plans to ex-
pand its public transport infrastructure while
assigning a low priority to automobile traffic in
the city center and promoting the interests of
cyclists, and pedestrians .
“The study shows how successful Vienna
has been in implementing an efficient trans-
port strategy that could serve as a model for
cities everywhere,” says Dr. Hans-Jörg Grund-
mann, CEO of the Siemens Mobility Division,
in reference to Vienna’s “Transport Master Plan
2003,” which covers the period until 2020. The Greater Vienna area has 227 kilometers
of streetcar tracks, one of the largest streetcar
networks in the world. The mass transit net-
work run by transport operator Wiener Linien
is over 960 kilometers in length, including 116
subway, streetcar, and bus lines with 4,559
stops, from which any location in the city can
be reached within 15 minutes on foot. On weekdays, public transport accounts for
up to 35 percent of total traffic, one of the
highest mass transit quotients in the world.
Wiener Linien plans to increase this share to
40 percent by 2013 with capital expenditures
of €1.8 billion, some of which will be used to
extend existing subway lines and build new
streetcar lines in outlying districts. Summer 2009 saw the launch of an over -
arching transport management system that
benefits 200,000 commuters each day. The
system provides route planning and calculates
travel times in real time across all modes of
transport. It is supported with a host of traffic
data, most of which is gathered and processed
by sensor systems from Siemens. “We’ve already
provided a lot of a products and solutions in-
volved in the implementation of Vienna’s
transport master plan,” says Grundmann.
These solutions include 44 high-speed trains
for intercity connections and 40 subway trains
as well as the associated control, signaling,
and safety technology; 300 ultra-low-floor
streetcars, which Siemens is delivering to the
city’s transport operator at the rate of 15 to 20
per year; and, last but not least, a Siemens sys-
Energy Efficiency | Vienna
124 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2009
Lots of Light for Little Power
Outfitting traffic lights with light-emitting diodes
(LEDs) can help cities slash their power costs. These
tiny 10-watt light sources consume between 80 and
90 percent less electricity than the lamps in conven-
tional stoplights. What’s more, to ensure safety, con-
ventional lamps have to be replaced every six to 12
months, whereas LEDs are genuine long-burners.
“They run for around 100,000 hours, which means
they only have to be changed every ten years,” ex-
plains Dr. Christoph Roth, product manager for signal
generators at the Traffic Solutions Business Unit of the Siemens Mobility Division. When replacing
conventional bulbs with LEDs, it makes sense to renew the control unit and convert the light to 40-
volt LED circuitry. “That means you can use signal light units with only six or seven watts,” says Roth,
who estimates that the upgrading of traffic lights at 700 intersections can save a city €1.2 million a
year. For Germany as a whole and its 80,000 or so traffic lights, the reduction in power consumption
alone would bring savings of €140 million. Fitted with conventional lamps, Germany’s traffic lights
would consume 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours a year. Refitting with LEDs has cut that figure to 175 mil-
lion kWh — which corresponds to a reduction in generating capacity from 180 to 24 megawatts.
“Municipalities can recoup the costs of replacing conventional lamps with LEDs within two to four
years,” Roth explains. “There are very few towns and cities in Germany that haven’t already converted
in part to LEDs, and it’s a trend we’re also seeing worldwide.” In Europe, for example, Vienna (pic-
tured above) and Budapest have already fully converted. In Germany, Freiburg, Memmingen, and
Mannheim have all taken advantage of a customized financing solution provided by Siemens Finance
& Leasing, a subsidiary of Siemens Financial Services. “Our financing model has terms of between
four to 15 years, with the repayment schedule calculated on the basis of potential savings, which
makes it very flexible compared to standard municipal loans,” explains Jörg Dethlefsen, a member of
the executive management at Finance & Leasing. Freiburg, for example, has converted 53 traffic
lights to LEDs, a move that has brought it annual savings of €155,000 since 2006. These savings will
finance the repayments over the 15-year term of the loan and then flow into city coffers. “Assuming
the potential savings have been properly calculated, our financing solution won’t pose any financial
risk for the city in question. What’s more, it gives municipalities the scope to invest in other areas,”
Dethlefsen adds.Nikola Wohllaib
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2008 127
Shrinking our Footprints
Pictures of the Future | Sustainable Infrastructures for London
126 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Fall 2008
ities play a crucial role in the fight against
climate change. They already account for
over half the world’s population, and six out of
every ten people on earth will be living in cities
by 2025. Cities and their residents are also re-
sponsible for approximately 80 percent of the
greenhouse gases emitted worldwide, a dispro-
portionately large amount. Big cities are very
aware of this problem, as a study entitled
“Megacity Challenges” showed (see Pictures of
the Future,Spring 2007, p. 14). But when big
cities must choose between environmental pro-
tection and economic growth, the environment
often loses out.
But economic viability and environmental
protection don’t have to be at odds. Researchers
taking part in the “Sustainable Urban Infrastruc-
ture” project, which was carried out with sup-
port from Siemens, have for the first time deter-
mined the potential and costs of technologies
for preventing greenhouse gases in cities. Using
London as an example, management consult-
London plans to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by up to 60 percent by 2025. A Siemens-McKinsey study shows how it
can meet its objective.
ants McKinsey & Company analyzed more than
200 technological abatement levers that would
reduce the city’s CO
emissions by almost 44
percent by 2025 relative to the 1990 figure of
about 45 million metric tons, in addition to cut-
ting water consumption and improving waste
disposal. Many of the levers they identified also
make good sense in economic terms. For exam-
ple, nearly 70 percent of the potential annual
savings of almost 20 million metric tons of CO
identified for London can be achieved with the
help of technologies that pay for themselves,
largely by reducing energy costs. Over their life-
times, in other words, they result in no addi-
tional costs, but actually help to save money.
Ambitious Aims. The British metropolis has its
work cut out for it. By 2025, London intends to
reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per-
cent relative to the Kyoto base year of 1990 —
an ambitious but, as the study shows, feasible
objective. Technologies alone could cut London’s CO
emissions by 44 percent by 2025 relative to
1990 levels. This would enable it to meet its Ky-
oto objective (a reduction of 12 percent by
2012). For comparison, the EU’s target is a re-
duction of 20 percent by 2020, and the national
target of the British government is a reduction of
30 percent by 2025. T
The city’s 60 percent target could be brought
within reach by means of new regulations,
changes in the public’s behavior (fuel-saving
driving, use of public transit, and lowering ther-
mostats) and future technological innovations.
Effectively applying all the analyzed abate-
ment levers by 2025 would require an additional
investment of about €41 billion, less than one
percent of London’s economic output. This
roughly matches the results of the 2006 report
by Sir Nicholas Stern, which put the costs of
stemming the greenhouse effect at up to one
percent of global gross domestic product per
year. On the other hand, accepting an
Source: © Copyright 2008 McKinsey & Company
Values per year (2005 or most recent
available before)
emissions —
kg CO
emissions — buildings
kg CO
New York City
emissions —
kg CO
Air pollution kg particulate matter
Domestic waste kg/person
Water m
Source: © Copyright 2008 McKinsey & Company
Comparative Emission Targets Mt CO
1990 2005 2012
2025 London 2025
* compared with 1990 levels
- 60.0%
Greenhouse Gas Abatement Cost Curve for London 2025
from Decision-Makers’ Perspective
Source: © Copyright 2008 McKinsey&Company
Source: © Copyright 2008 McKinsey&Company
Abatement costs
€/t CO
2 4 6 8 10
14 16 18
Diesel engine efficiency package
Gasoline engine efficiency package
Lighting in private
Gas engine in combined heat
and power systems
Horizontal axis shows the CO
savings potential in millions of metric tons per year, and the vertical axis shows the cost
per metric ton of CO
emissions avoided. Values below zero are negative costs, i.e. savings.
Newly built
homes with ex-
tremely high en-
ergy efficiency
Replacing coal with gas
Double glazing
Exterior wall insulation
Wind power facilities offshore
Heat recovery
Floor insulation
Wind power facilities onshore Roof Insulation
Lighting (commercial)
Heat from
power plants
Optimization of
building automa-
tion systems
Comparative Environmental Footprints
unchecked rise in temperatures could cost five
to ten percent of global economic output, ac-
cording to the former chief economist of the
World Bank.
Results of the “Sustainable Urban Infra-
structure” Study:
The greatest potential for savings lies in Lon-
don’s buildings. They are responsible for about
two thirds of total CO
emissions in the city. Per
capita, that represents 4.3 metric tons (t) of CO
per year, a high value compared to other cities.
The corresponding figure in Tokyo is 2.9 metric
tons of CO
per year; in Stockholm it’s only 2.6.
By 2025 about ten million metric tons of Lon-
don’s CO
could be eliminated through better in-
sulation of Victorian buildings, more energy-effi-
cient lighting and modern building automation
systems. And almost 90 percent of that reduc-
tion would pay for itself thanks to the resulting
energy savings.
Greenhouse gas emissions in transport could
be reduced by 25 percent by 2025 — a reduc-
tion of 3 million metric tons of CO
per year.
Here, higher-efficiency cars are the most impor-
tant abatement lever. They could help to elimi-
nate more than 1.2 million metric tons of CO
And it would be possible to eliminate another
400,000 metric tons of CO
in local public trans-
port by using hybrid buses, for example, which
consume 30 percent less fuel than conventional
diesel buses.
When it comes to power generation, London
could eliminate another 6.2 million metric tons
of CO
. At the local level, various combined heat
and power plants offer the greatest potential:
2.1 million metric tons of CO
savings per year.
An additional 3.7 million metric tons could be
achieved at the national level if plant operators
were to rely on renewable energies and gas in-
stead of coal for the generation of electricity, for
London’s water supply network is roughly 150
years old and loses over 30 percent of the water
fed into its 4,800 kilometers of lines. This means
enough water to fill 350 Olympic-size swimming
pools seeps into the ground every day. So for
each liter of water not consumed, almost 1.5
liters less must be pumped into the system. By
2025, about 65 million cubic meters of water
could be saved annually — some 13 percent of
total consumption — through economically rea-
sonable measures like dual-flush toilets or more
efficient washing machines and dishwashers.
About 64 percent of London’s municipal
waste is currently disposed of in landfills — a
large amount compared to cities such as Tokyo
and Stockholm. Given the high and rising landfill
fees and taxes in Great Britain, there are eco-
nomically attractive alternatives to garbage dis-
posal in landfills. Raw materials can be recycled,
and modern technologies can be applied to do-
mestic waste for the purpose of creating new
energy sources, whether by converting it into
biogas or through direct combustion. The en-
ergy thus extracted can be used to supply thou-
sands of households with electricity and heat.
People Made a Difference. The study also
shows that urban initiatives should not be lim-
ited to CO
reductions. It’s equally important to
achieve greater consumer acceptance of energy-
saving technologies. About 75 percent of the
potential reduction in CO
levels could be real-
ized by individuals and businesses in London if
they opted for more efficient technologies such
as energy-saving lamps and more economical
cars. Changes in regulations, taxes and subsi-
dies, better financing opportunities, and educa-
tion campaigns can help to change consumers’
attitudes and encourage them to make deci-
sions that are not only economically efficient
but also environmentally sound.Petra Zacek
Where London Can Save the Most CO
Costs < 0 €/t CO
(=cost savings)
Costs > 0 €/t CO
Change to
Buildings Transport Decentralized
power and heat
power gen-
2025 after
Decrease due to identified abatement levers
Condensing boilers
Abatement levers that also make economic sense (13.4 Mt of CO
Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009 129
Paths to a Better Planet
Effective steps to cut emissions in urban areas can have profound effects on the envi-
ronment. A new study based on the city of Munich shows how a major metropolitan
area could make itself virtually carbon-free within a few decades. Most of the technol-
ogy that’s needed is already available — and putting it to work would save money. How can a modern city, despite population
growth, reduce carbon emissions without hav-
ing to compromise on living standards or risk-
ing a slowdown in economic growth? This is
the question that has occupied researchers
from Germany’s Wuppertal Institute for Cli-
mate, Environment and Energy with the sup-
port of Siemens. Their study “Munich — Paths
toward a Carbon-free Future” presents a de-
tailed look at what the city can do to minimize
its environmental footprint between now and
2058. The study concludes that it is possible to
transform a city like Munich into a practically
carbon-free area. This, it says, will require close
cooperation between municipal authorities,
energy companies, and the population, along
with a clear commitment to efficient technolo-
gies, ranging from energy-saving refrigerators
to power plants, as well as a general willing-
ness to invest in greater use of renewable en-
ergy sources such as wind, solar power, bio-
mass, and geothermal energy. Cutting CO
by 80 to 90 Percent. The study
sketches two alternative scenarios for Munich.
The so-called “target scenario” adopts the very
optimistic view that the vision of a carbon-free
future can be more or less achieved over the
50-year span under consideration in the study. Another scenario — the so-called bridge
scenario — is somewhat more conservative
and assumes, for example, that increased effi-
ciency in power generation will be offset by
rises in demand and that individual transporta-
tion will remain similar to its present-day form.
Nevertheless, the results are impressive in both
cases. The optimistic target scenario predicts
that through the implementation of compre-
hensive efficiency measures the average CO
emissions per inhabitant can be curbed by
around 90 percent to 750 kilograms per an-
num by the middle of the century. The more conservative bridge scenario, on
the other hand, results in a average CO
tion of almost 80 percent to approximately 1.3
metric tons. In comparison, on the basis of the
IPCC World Climate Report of 2007, the Euro-
pean Union’s environmental ministers came up
with a target of reducing greenhouse gas emis-
sions worldwide by over 50 percent and
thereby to an average figure of less than two
metric tons per capita. Both of the Munich sce-
narios undercut this target substantially. The Munich study analyzes in detail which
measures will achieve the greatest reduction in
emissions and whether they are economi-
cal. Almost half of Munich’s CO
emissions are
the result of energy used to heat the city’s
homes and buildings. Improving the insulation
of roofs, facades, and basements would thus
Source: City of Munich, 2008; Stadtwerke München; estimates by Wuppertal Institute, 2008
Munich’s Energy Requirements in 2008
emissions from energy sector
8.2m t CO
per annum
Losses resulting from power generation and
transmission as well as energy consumption
in the energy sector: 11.4 TWh = 30%
Total energy requirements: 29.0 TWh per annum
From coal
2.4m t
From natural
3.2m t
From crude
2.6m t
Primary energy
40.4 TWh per annum
7.4 TWh
Space heating and process heat
7.5 TWh
Electricity 4.3 TWh
Space heating 9.5 TWh
Electricity 2.5 TWh
Electricity 0.3 TWh
15.8 TWh
Crude oil
9.7 TWh
Renewables 1.0 TWh
Trade + Industry 11.8 TWh
12.0 TWh
5.3 TWh
Fuel 5.0 TWh
Figures rounded, 1 TWh = 3.6 PJ = 122,700 t hard coal equivalent
Nuclear power 6.5 TWh
ities are attractive places to live. They
promise work, a vibrant cultural life, and a
host of leisure activities. All of which is very
true of Munich, Bavaria’s capital. From here, it’s
only a short hop to go climbing or skiing in the
Alps, to reach crystal-clear lakes, or to drive to
Italy and the Mediterranean. Little wonder
then that Munich is one of the few cities in Ger-
many that is set to grow in the coming
decades. Although an exception in Germany,
the city is, however, very much in line with the
trend toward ever-larger metropolitan areas. In the world’s newly industrializing and de-
veloping countries people flock to cities in
search of work and education and in hope of a
better life. And last year a watershed was
reached. In 2008, for the first time ever, half of
the world’s population lived in cities. By 2050
this figure is forecast to grow to 70 percent.
This will result in huge urban sprawls that con-
sume resources and pollute environments. Although metropolitan areas cover only one
percent of the earth’s surface, they are respon-
sible for 75 percent of the world’s energy con-
sumption and 80 percent of greenhouse gases,
not least carbon dioxide (CO
). As such, they
are storing up trouble for themselves, since ex-
perts expect cities to be seriously affected by
climate change. Shanghai, for example, is likely
to suffer from storms and heavy rains, and Ger-
many’s Federal Environment Agency predicts
that by the end of the century Munich will see
a significant increase in the number of hot days
and “tropical” nights each year. Is there any good news about cities? Well,
yes. The very fact that they are not only the
biggest culprits in climate change, but that
they are so concentrated offers a good oppor-
tunity to tackle the problems they cause, since
the key levers for climate protection have their
biggest impact here. The major metropolitan
areas of the world are thus in a unique position
to lead the way to more environmentally-
friendly modes of living and doing business. 128 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009
Pictures of the Future | Study of a Carbon-Free Munich
yield significant savings. It is therefore crucial
not to scrimp in this area. In fact, the study as-
sumes that the refurbishment of existing hous-
ing in Munich will conform to the Passive
House standard and that all future housing will
also conform to this standard. This includes the
use of not only the best insulation and vac-
uum-insulated windows but also ventilation
systems that recover residual heat from the
houses’ exhaust air before it is blown outside. Based on the above steps, the study finds
that it should be possible to reduce heating re-
quirements for existing buildings from the cur-
rent figure of around 200 kilowatt-hours per
square meter per annum (kWh/m
a) to be-
tween 25 and 35 kWh/m
, while new housing
will require only between 10 to 20 kWh/m
a. At the same time, new buildings are to be
fitted with solar power systems, so that most of
them will be able to cover their remaining en-
ergy requirements autonomously and even
feed excess energy into the grid. In order to en-
sure that the energy efficiency of most build-
ings is raised to the requisite level over the next
50 years, the rate at which such refurbishment
is being carried out must increase from the cur-
rent figure of 0.5 percent to 2.0 percent per an-
num. This means that four times as many
homeowners must implement such energy im-
provements than is currently the case.
The idea of improving the energy efficiency
of a city like Munich on a more or less wholesale
basis over 50 years sounds like a major chal-
lenge. Yet such efforts are worthwhile. Although
it is more expensive to build according to the
Passive House standard than to implement the
Energy Conservation Act of 2007, the additional
costs involved in such refurbishment and the
construction of new housing would amount to
around €13 billion for the entire city of Munich.
That would mean extra costs of approximately
€200 a year per inhabitant — around one third
of an average annual gas bill. By 2058, how-
ever, this additional investment would be offset
by energy savings of between €1.6 and €2.6
billion per year, which translates into an annual
sum of between €1,200 to €2,000 per inhabi-
tant. The refurbishment of existing and con-
struction of new housing in line with the Passive
House standard would result in energy savings
of more than €30 billion by 2058. Moreover,
this scenario also applies to other areas, since
the study comes to the conclusion that meas-
ures designed to enhance efficiency generally
pay for themselves over their lifetime.
Home Power. Of course, insulation is by no
means the end of the story. More has to be
done if CO
emissions are to be cut to almost
zero. Greenhouse gas emissions can also be re-
duced by the use of combined heat and power
(CHP) systems. Such heating systems are par-
ticularly efficient, since they utilize around nine
tenths of the energy contained in their primary
fuel. Both Munich scenarios also assume that
the use of district heating will rise from the cur-
rent figure of 20 percent to 60 percent. This is
not an unrealistic proposition. In Copenhagen,
for example, around 70 percent of all house-
holds are heated this way.
Other measures designed to reduce CO
emissions include the use of economical elec-
Sources of Munich’s Energy Mix
TWh per annum
Coal-fired power plant with CCS
Solar-thermal electricity generation
Wind power on-/offshore
Biomass Geothermal
Decentralized CHP
Centralized CHP
LPT electricity
LPT biofuel
LPT fuel (fossil)
MIT electricity
MIT biofuel
MIT fuel (fossil)
TWh per annum
Source: Wuppertal Institute, 2008
Power generation:
Accounts for 40.3% of CO
emissions in Munich (2008)
Public transport: Accounts for 12.6% of CO
emissions in Munich (2008)
Munich’s Transport Energy Mix
MIT: Motorized Individual Transport
LPT: Local Public Transport
CCS: Carbon Capture & Storage
Pictures of the Future | Special Edition on Green Technologies 131
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that the cost of refurbishing existing structures
and building new ones in line with the Passive
House standard would be offset by savings in
energy that would have been consumed for
heating. The savings would be sufficient to fund
the creation of a carbon-free district heating
distribution system powered by geothermal en-
ergy. In other words, investment in a carbon-free
supply of heating would not only reduce emis-
sions substantially but would also save the dis-
trict an average of €4 to €6.5 million per annum.
It must be remembered that private individ-
uals and the business sector also have a role to
play in boosting energy efficiency, since in
many cases it is they who must choose be-
tween traditional technology and a more effi-
cient but often, at the outset, more expensive
alternative. This applies equally to the con-
struction of housing, electric appliances, and
industrial motors. Yet the study emphasizes
that this often involves merely a change in be-
havior, not a compromise in the quality of life.
Frequently it is high costs that prevent a whole-
sale shift in attitudes and the widespread use
of low-energy technology. And frequently this
is because consumers fail to appreciate the po-
tential savings in energy costs over a full prod-
uct lifetime. However, experience clearly shows
that people’s behavior can be nudged in the
right direction by the use of appropriate finan-
cial assistance and incentives combined with
targeted information campaigns. The study
therefore concludes that greater energy effi-
ciency is chiefly interesting when it makes
sound financial sense. And that is almost al-
ways the case. Tim Schröder
Source: Estimate by Wuppertal Institute, 2008
Emissions Per Capita Annual CO
per capita (in kg)
Emissions by Sector
Source: Estimate by Wuppertal Institute, 2008
Thousands of metric tons CO
2 p.a.
Passenger transport
Commercial transport
Power and heat from CHP (coal)
Power and heat from CHP (natural gas)
Heat from CHP (natural gas)
Power from CHP (natural gas)
Power generation (coal with CCS)
Direct heat generation (heating oil) Direct heat generation (natural gas) Percentage of CO
emissions in Munich (2008) resulting from heating of buildings: 46.5% 46.5%
Source: Wuppertal Institute, 2008
Building Heating by
Source TWh per annum
1% 77% District heating
Decentralized CHP Direct supply of
heat -79%
CHP: Combined heat and power 130 Reprinted (with updates) from Pictures of the Future | Spring 2009
Pictures of the Future | Study of a Carbon-Free Munich
tric appliances and lighting as well as renew-
able and low-carbon energy sources such as
photovoltaic systems, solar collectors, and ge-
othermal systems. The study assumes that
electricity will be increasingly generated on a
decentralized basis — for example, by CHP
plants for individual areas of the city or even
micro CHP units for individual buildings, which
supply not only heat but also electricity for resi-
dents (see p. 116). According to the study, if all the opportuni-
ties to save electricity were rigorously exploited
— from stoplights to tumble driers — the
power consumption of a city like Munich could
be largely satisfied by renewable sources. The
study assumes that the city will continue to ob-
tain electricity from larger power plants in the
region as well as further afield in Germany and
abroad. Such power could be generated essen-
tially by large offshore and onshore wind farms
in northern Europe or by solar-thermal power
plants in southern Europe or northern Africa
and then transported to the cities of central
Europe via low-loss HVDC transmission lines.
Some of this power could also be generated in
low-carbon power plants equipped with tech-
nology for carbon capture and storage.
Plugging Cars into the Picture. One of the
most striking changes investigated by the study
is the massive shift to electric cars. It is likely
that by the middle of the century most car trips
in the Munich area will be made in electric ve-
hicles. For longer trips, people will probably still
use hybrid or highly efficient diesel or gasoline
cars. The large number of electric vehicles in
Munich will also help to buffer fluctuating loads
from photovoltaic and wind sources, whose out-
put of electricity differs according to the weather
and the time of day. When power is plentiful
(and therefore cheap), electric car batteries will
serve as an intermediate storage system. At
times of high demand (and peak rates), they
will feed some of their power back into the grid.
At the same time, better town planning can
help reduce the amount of traffic in Munich and
therefore reduce its CO
emissions. Both scenar-
ios are based on reduced travel requirements.
Instead of building shopping malls on green field
sites, the study favors urban neighborhoods in
which homes, workplaces, and stores are close
to one another. That way, many more trips can
be completed on foot or by bicycle. The authors
also advocate making public transit more com-
fortable in order to encourage its increased use. In addition to analyzing Munich as a whole,
the study presents a detailed plan of how to
improve energy efficiency in an actual district
on the periphery that contains both old and new
housing. The authors conclude that it would be
possible to create a low-carbon neighborhood
within a 30-year period. Moreover, they say
© 2009 by Siemens AG. All rights reserved.
Siemens Aktiengesellschaft
Order number: A19100-F-P153-X-7600
ISSN 1618-5498
Publisher:Siemens AG
Corporate Communications (CC) und Corporate Technology (CT)
Wittelsbacherplatz 2, 80333 Munich, Germany
For the publisher: Dr. Ulrich Eberl (CC), Arthur F. Pease (CT) (Tel. +49 89 636 33246) (Tel. +49 89 636 48824)
Editorial Office:
Dr. Ulrich Eberl (Editor-in-Chief) Arthur F. Pease (Executive Editor, English Edition)
Florian Martini (Managing Editor)
Helen Sedlmeier
Sebastian Webel Additional Authors in this Issue:
Dr. Norbert Aschenbrenner, Bernhard Bartsch, Dr. Hubertus Breuer, Christian Buck, Urs Fitze, Bernhard Gerl, Harald Hassenmüller, Andrea
Hoferichter, Ute Kehse, Dr. Andreas Kleinschmidt, Stephanie Lacker-
schmid, Katrin Nikolaus, Bernd Müller, Gitta Rohling, Dr. Jeanne Rubner,
Tim Schröder, Daniel Schwarzfischer, Rolf Sterbak,Dr. Sylvia Trage, Nikola
Wohllaib, Petra Zacek, Ulrike Zechbauer
Picture Editing: Judith Egelhof, Irene Kern, Jürgen Winzeck, Publicis Publishing, Munich
Internet ( Volkmar Dimpfl
Hist. Information:Dr. Frank Wittendorfer, Siemens Corporate Archives
Address Databank:Susan Süß, Publicis Erlangen
Graphic Design / Lithography: Rigobert Ratschke, Büro Seufferle, Stuttgart
Illustrations:Natascha Römer, Weinstadt
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Translations German – English: Transform GmbH, Cologne
Printing: Bechtle Druck&Service, Esslingen
Photo Credits:
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Solel Solar Systems Ltd. (14 b., 17 r.), private (18), Statoil Hydro
(23), Sauer / Bildagentur online (28 t.), courtesy of New York
Times (34 t. r.), Ulrich Dahl / Press Office TU Berlin (35 r.), Deutsche
Bundesstiftung Umwelt (37), Cary / F1 online (40), Flaherty / getty
images (41), Picture alliance (48 t., 85, 100 r.), NREL (50 t.r.), Fos-
ter+Partners (52 b., 53 b.), RWE Energy AG (56), Transparent Ener-
gy Systems (64 t.), Powerit Solutions (64 b.), Gallo Winery (65 b.),
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Denver International Airport (94), getty images (97 l.), Nic Lehoux /
NY Times (97 r., 98 l.), Osram (104, 105), Dr. Pachauri (108). All other images: Copyright Siemens AG
Pictures of the Future and other names are registered trademarks of
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mentioned in this publication may be registered trademarks of their
respective companies. The editorial content of the reports in this publication does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the publisher. This magazine contains
forward-looking statements, the accuracy of which Siemens is not able to guarantee in any way.
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