In Deutschland gibt es derzeit noch rund 150 aktive Kohlekraftwerke.

What the Industry can learn from Climate Change

This post is also available in: Deutsch

The term climate change contains the word change. And, in fact, the views on climate change are changing and constantly need to be reconsidered.

This starts with renewable energies. Are they a promising niche? It would not be incorrect to say this from a purely technical point of view. Worldwide, a little over ten percent of the electricity consumed is produced on the basis of renewable energy.

Can the low-carbon economy become reality with the help of renewable energies?
Can the low-carbon economy become reality with the help of renewable energies?

We still have a long way to go so that the "low-carbon economy" can become reality. If we look at the power plants and solar roofs that are being built today, then the picture changes.

In the Global Trends Report published by the UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate and Sustainable Energy Finance at the Frankfurt School, we were able to show that more than half of the additional capacity for power generation in 2015 was based on renewable energy for the first time.

Worldwide more than twice as much money was invested in power generation based on renewable energy.

If we look at the investment spending, this statement becomes even clearer: Worldwide more than twice as much money was invested in power generation based on renewable energy than in coal and gas power plants together in 2015. So the once promising niche also appears to be quite lucrative.

In the early days of renewable energy, it was the state funding that mainly drove the costly technologies on the market. Everyone expected the prices for the technology to fall. But hardly anyone sensed how quickly this would happen.

Facts about Climate Change

The concentration of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere has nearly doubled since 1850.

Facts about Climate Change

CO2 changes the Earth’s radiation budget: if the carbon dioxide content in the air were to double, the global temperature would increase by an average of 2 to 4°C.

Facts about Climate Change

Since 1900, the global temperature has risen by an average of around 1°C. The global temperatures of the past 10 years were the warmest since such measurements began in the 19th century.

Facts about Climate Change

As a result of global warming, global sea levels are rising by an average of about 3 millimeters per year.

 

For example, the cost of generating solar power has fallen to one-third since 2009. Developing and emerging countries are generously equipped with wind and sun.

One of the consequences is that the investment that developing and emerging countries had made in renewable energy exceeded those of all industrialized countries for the first time in 2015. In Europe, investments have plummeted by about 20 percent. But how can energy targets be achieved?

In Germany, around 2.25 million solar systems were installed by 2016.
In Germany, around 2.25 million solar systems were installed by 2016.

The average age of the coal power plants – especially in Asia – is low. And a coal power plant remains connected to the grid for about 40 years. The interim goal that was decided on by the Climate Convention in Paris is thus probably hardly compatible with this fact: to achieve so-called zero net emissions by 2050.

The discussion about the coal phase-out in Germany has begun. And the majority of the energy climate scientists agree that the technology for extracting carbon dioxide from power plant emissions and storing it elsewhere in liquid or gaseous form is not yet mature.

Today , there are still about 150 active coal-fired power plants in Germany.
Today , there are still about 150 active coal-fired power plants in Germany.

Thus, it is also completely unrealistic to achieve the two-degree target. It describes the goal of international climate policy of limiting global warming to less than two degrees Celsius compared to the level before the onset of industrialization.

Perhaps zero net emissions are therefore one of the main technical challenges for the two-degree target. In any case, a lot of pipe systems and joining products that must remain tight will be needed for these systems in order to actually realize this.

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