Science for Progress

because science is fundamental in the 21st century

36 Energiewende II: Power Distribution

This summer climate change has finally made it back into public discussion in Germany. In the last episode on climate change, Rüdiger Eichel and I spoke about Fridays for Future and how the results of the election for the European Parliament reflected the increased awareness for environmental topics in the EU.

In this episode I talk to Tom Brown from the Karlsruhe Insttitute of Technology. He models how we can use different energy distribution systems to balance the fluctuating power production from renewable sources. There are many variables and options to consider. But the good news is that a carbon neutral economy in Germany should be possible.

We focus on Germany, because it’s Europe’s biggest economy. It is highly industrialized, and still very much reliant on fossil fuels for power production. And on top of transitioning away from fossil fuels, Germany is also fading out nuclear power as well. So, if Germany can manage a transition to a carbon neutral economy, every country should be able to achieve this, too. So it is worth keeping your eyes on Germany and the Energiewende.

The cheapest way to increase carbon neutral power is to have renewable sources for electricity, locally, and to have a power grid connecting far-away regions. Then you can simply move power from regions where there currently is a lot of electricity to those where renewables are currently not producing much – for example, because it is dark and the wind isn’t blowing. A network across all of Europe could do the trick.

However, there are regions in which people are resisting the installment of overhead transmission lines, and wind turbines. There, the energy needs to be transmitted there, differently – which is more expensive. But there are, indeed a range of technologies providing different options to solve the problem.

Do you have questions, comments or suggestion? Email, write us on facebook or twitter, or leave us a video message on Skype for dennis.eckmeier.


– follow Tom Brown on Twitter
Tom Brown’s personal website
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Tom Brown’s ArXiv paper explaining more about the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems

about Dennis Eckmeier

Dennis founded Science for Progress. He received a PhD in neuroscience in 2010 in Germany. Until 2018 he worked as a postdoc in the USA, and Portugal. In 2017 he co-organized the March for Science in Lisbon, Portugal. Dennis is currently a freelancer.