Germany

germany

Germany is an export-oriented nation with a strong manufacturing industry and well established eco-innovation areas and markets. Since 2013 the Germany’s performance in the Eco-innovation Scoreboard has dropped by one place and ranks fourth in 2014-2015. This is mainly attributed to a downshift in the socio-economic and resource efficiency outcomes. Germany performs particularly well in the subcategories eco-innovation patents and exports of products from eco-industries.

With respect to a circular economy, Germany is characterised by very good waste infrastructures and recycling rates. The present focus on technical waste management and end-of-life measures is simultaneously signalling further demand for innovative waste instruments at the interface of material cycles and new business models. A first step was taken by introducing the Waste Prevention Programme in 2013. A strengthening of the regulatory framework and a better alignment of responsibilities, competencies and approaches towards a circular economy seem important for the increase of secondary input rates and a closing of the loops. The demand for high-tech and waste technologies is expected to remain high in the world and–as one of the market leaders– Germany has a strong standing in exporting innovative waste management solutions.

The German green tech sector is expected to further develop dynamically. The early implementation of the Renewables Energies Act (in 1991) and the introduction of the German Resource Efficiency Programme (ProgRess) in 2012 serve as important and drivers for energy and resource efficiency, eco-innovation and the energy transition in Germany.

The framework conditions for innovation are generally well developed and include both supply and demand-side instruments while there is a pronounced reliance on voluntary and informational approaches at the consumption side. An eco-innovation action plan is under development. Nevertheless, Germany will probably not meet its sustainable development strategy targets for raw material and energy productivity, energy consumption, biodiversity, land use, mobility and farming .

2015 Eco-innovation Scoreboard ranking and eco-innovation index composites for Germany

Germany

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Power to Gas Technology

germany_PowertoGas_resizedPower storage technology

By 2020, the share of electricity from wind and solar energy to increase to about five times today's production. Already, in some regions, surplus green electricity can not be fed into the power grid due to a lack of facilities for the storage of green energy.

On 30 October 2012, the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) has opened a research facility with a electrical connection power of 250 kilowatts. The pilot plant, supported by the Federal Environment Ministry, converts green electricity, such as wind energy, into hydrogen and methane. With a possible methane production of up to 300 cubic meters per day, it is the largest facility of its kind in the world and ten times more powerful than the testing facility that had been installed three years before. This is a big step towards an industrial application of a new power storage technology.

Using the new system solution "Power to Gas" electricity rom renewable energy sources can be converted into hydrogen or synthetic natural gas and stored in the natural gas network. This would be a way to store large amounts of electricity from renewable energy sources in the long term. The conversion of electricity into synthetic natural gas takes place in two steps: First, hydrogen is produced by electrolysis, and then followed by methanation. The needed CO2 for methanation can be basically from fossil or renewable sources such as biogas plants, biomass gasification plants or sewage treatment plants. The gas can be stored almost indefinitely and transported over long distances.

Barriers and Drivers

The Renewable Energy Act has to be seen as a very important driver for the development of the above technology. The lack of storage technologies, in particular of green energy such as wind energy contributed to an increase in research. At the same time, a new renewable energy can be gained by application of the technology and further contribute to tax benefits and an improving image of the industry.

While the alkaline electrolysis has been used in large-scale commercial plants to produce hydrogen since the mid 20th Century, the PEM electrolysis is still in development and is only being used commercially in the low power range. The realisation of larger systems is  currently limited due the size of the membrane electrodes. The high-temperature electrolysis, in particular the Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cell (SOEC), is currently at the stage of basic research.

Economic Performance

The Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena - "German Energy Agency") has set up the Power-to-Gas Strategy Platform in partnership with industry and research stakeholders to develop this new energy storage technology.

Environmental Impact

Extended power storage and improved technologies increase the options for the use of renewable energy enormously. Especially the automotive can benefit from power-to-gas, because the procedure also offers alternatives for future sustainable mobility.

Further Information

http://www.gtai.de/GTAI/Content/EN/Invest/_SharedDocs/Downloads/GTAI/Fact-sheets/Energy-environmental/fact-sheet-green-hydrogen-mass-energy-storage-for-future.pdf

http://www.zsw-bw.de/uploads/media/pi-2012-ZSWIWESSolarFuel-Einweihung250kW-Anlage.pdf

http://www.powertogas.info/fileadmin/user_upload/downloads/Broschuere/Fachbroschuere_Power_to_Gas.pdf

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Eco Innovation in Practice in Germany

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Materials eco-innovat…

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Technological eco-inn…

Technological eco-innovation

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Product eco-innovatio…

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Materials eco-innovat…

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Mechanical-biological…

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SkySails

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Strip casting technol…

Strip casting allows the casting of new, high-manganese steels, by achieving energy and carbon dioxide savings in comparison to conventional technologies. Due to the low... Read more

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Energy efficient circ…

Improved circulating pumps consume up to 80% less electricity than conventional models. By combining electronically optimised motors with an improved impeller design, the efficiency can... Read more

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Aircraft recycling

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Mobile dismantling and material recovery of discarded aircrafts. Read more

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