ST 006-12 Lohr, 2012-06-01

Mechanical and Plant Engineering is Playing an Active Role in the Success of the Energy Revolution in Germany


Dr. Karl Tragl

Dr. Karl Tragl, Chairman of the Executive Board of Bosch Rexroth AG

The energy revolution in Germany is attracting a great deal of interest around the world. Never before has an industrial country embarked on such a fundamental reorganization of its energy supply: a complete withdrawal from nuclear energy and increasing the percentage of renewable energy generated to 50% by 2030. Politicians and industry players must work closely together to shape the process. In addition to energy sector, mechanical and plant engineering also plays a key role.

Among the various renewable energies, wind energy will make the greatest contribution to CO2-free power generation in the foreseeable future. Even if current discussion is, to a large extent, focusing on offshore wind farms, the potential for wind energy on land is far from exhausted. For decades now, Rexroth has been supporting wind plant manufacturers in developing increasingly efficient and reliable transmissions. In addition to setting up new locations, predominantly in South Germany, modernizing existing wind energy plants can boost efficiency just as much.

In order to counterbalance the fluctuations of renewable energies such as wind and sun, conventional power plants are also needed in the short term. Gas and steam power plants would be particularly suited to this role, as they already offer the best level of efficiency with the lowest CO2 emissions of any fossil fuels, and, most importantly, they can administer power quickly. In collaboration with an operator, Rexroth has now developed new drive solutions for steam diversion in turbines; an advance that will strengthen this advantage yet further. The precise control system means that the power plants can administer power faster and more frequently while conserving materials to a greater extent. What's more, the sensitive drives allow the operators to work closer to the maximum possible operating temperature — provided the additional costs are low, the efficiency increases by 0.1% for every two degrees Celsius the steam turbine input temperature rises.

Until the energy mix has been completely replaced, increased energy efficiency is the best contribution that the industry can make to the success of the energy revolution. Every kilowatt hour saved is energy that does not even need to be generated. Rexroth for Energy Efficiency (4EE) allows machinery and plant manufacturers to have a universal system at their fingertips that increases energy efficiency. The system taps into the saving potential of all drive and control technologies for every application. What's more, the system does not operate solely on new machine concepts — it also lends itself to analyzing the energy efficiency of existing production lines and factories. Using this system, companies have already managed to lower their energy consumption significantly across numerous projects—from the automotive industry through to the manufacture and packaging of foodstuffs—while maintaining at least the same level of productivity.

Mechanical and plant engineering is playing an active role in the success of the energy revolution in Germany: Using innovative technical solutions, the sector is giving significant impetus to increased efficiency of renewable energies, to the restructuring of conventional power plants for increased flexibility and to increased energy efficiency in the manufacturing industry.

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