Published on July 17, 2007
Seasons have changed, and many unexpected events are striking for the first time. The occurrence of these phenomena is rising and climate change is behind the disasters.
Worldwide warming is a fact. It's estimated that each year around 44 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide is emitted, possibly changing the environment with the greenhouse effect. If this continues, it's predicted the Arctic Ocean will be free of ice by the middle of the 21st century.
Climate change is now bringing more disasters, yet Siemens, the German supplier of power and energy products, believes the problem could be solved with the use of innovative technologies.
"As energy use is a primary source of climate change, we believe new technologies will help the world tackle the problem," said Hermann Requardt, the head of Siemens' corporate technology division.
Siemens has invested more than ¤2 billion (Bt85 billion) a year on research and development to build technological innovations that can save energy and limit greenhouse-gas emissions. Its technologies involve every field of power generation, power transmission and power use in buildings, lighting and household appliances as well as in transport and industry, with the goal of reducing the emission of carbon dioxide to the environment.
Siemens has 10 key technologies which are already in use worldwide, and all are expected to yield an annual carbon dioxide reduction of 10 billion tonnes, an amount equal to 40 per cent of the current level, by 2050.
In power generation, the company has developed a high-efficiency turbine for use in combined-cycle power plants.
Using the world's largest gas turbine, such a power plant can achieve an efficiency rate of 60 per cent, compared to an average of only 38 per cent at German coal-fired plants.
Established in Irsching, Germany, the plant equipped with this new technology annually emits 2.8 million tonnes less carbon dioxide than a coal power plant. The company said that if the plant was operating at maximum efficiency it could cut carbon-dioxide emissions by 2.5 billion tonnes a year.
Even though Siemens realises that fossil fuels continue to dominate power generation at around 67 per cent, Requardt said it was predicted that the use of wind as an alternative energy would increase. He also said that the use of wind power would take around a 50-per-cent of share of the renewable-energy market by 2020, up from only 12 per cent in 2000. Using renewable energy is also a way to reduce greenhouse gases, Requardt added.
Siemens has installed 6,300 wind turbines worldwide, cutting carbon-dioxide emissions by 10 million tonnes a year. It's predicted that by 2050 wind power could reduce total emissions by 600 million tonnes a year.
Power transmission is another focus for Siemens. It has developed a high-voltage direct-current transmission system based on a new power converter technology for connecting offshore wind parks and oil-drilling platforms with the mainland power grid.
The company said this new technology would use less energy while creating less carbon dioxide than conventional alternating current systems. The company is now implementing an 800-kilometre transmission line in India using the new technology, and it's expected to reduce gas emissions by 690,000 tonnes a year.
Requardt said that reducing energy consumption was also the company's goal in developing technological innovation, especially when it came to power use.
Around 40 per cent of energy consumption worldwide is attributed to lighting, heating, air-conditioning and elevators in larger buildings. These generate 21 per cent of the total greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide.
Siemens has technologies to optimise energy used in buildings through better insulation and lighting, advanced heating and climate-control systems as well as building automation. So far, the company has modernised 6,500 buildings worldwide, guaranteeing a saving of more than ¤1 billion while reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by 2.4 million tonnes.
Lighting now accounts for 19 per cent of total electricity consumption around the world. A migration of only 30 per cent to energy-saving lighting technology would cut worldwide greenhouse-gas emissions by 270 million tonnes a year.
Requardt said that with technology development, energy-saving lamps would offer 15 times longer life than conventional bulbs while the light-emitting diode (LED) luminaires operated up to 50 times longer, and both used up to 80 per cent less electricity.
With new energy-saving technology, he said over the service life of an energy-saving lamp, carbon dioxide emissions will be cut by 0.5 tonnes and hundreds of euros saved.
Since Siemens' business also involves developing technologies for automotive purposes, it has developed a technology called a piezo direct-injection system used in all new petrol-powered vehicles.
The technology was designed to facilitate stable lean combustion in a stratified operation, thereby achieving the greatest possible fuel savings throughout an extended engine operating range. Siemens said this technology could reduce fuel consumption and carbon-dioxide emissions by up to 20 per cent.
The company predicts that if all cars manufactured in the next 10 years were equipped with the piezo injectors, it would reduce gas emissions by 270 million tonnes a year.
Energy-efficient motors are another technology development at Siemens that can save electricity costs by 60 per cent. The motors, normally used as electrical drives in industries, use advanced electricity-saving technology to control the rotational speed with frequency-converters.
It's estimated that electrical drives account for 65 per cent of all industrial electricity consumption. If all drives were replaced by this new technology, emissions of carbon dioxide could fall by 360 million tonnes a year.
Siemens is also exploring new technology to develop products for energy efficiency. Requardt said the company was planning to use nanotechnology, for example, to build new turbine blades to make the blades more resistant to temperature while it is designing new intelligent algorithms for smart grids to maximise the power generated by a complete wind farm.
High-temperature superconductors, meanwhile, could be used in new motors and generators to carry a current density 100 times greater than copper windings. Requardt said this would allow a 30-per-cent reduction in the weight and volume of motors and generators with a reduction in energy losses of 30 to 50 per cent.
Increased efficiency in the generation, transmission and use of energy on both producer and consumer sides will play a key role in Siemens' development pipeline. Siemens also hopes that it will increase the development of energy efficiency by 20 per cent by 2011 and this will also lead to a reduction of carbon-dioxide emissions.