Modelling The Fourth Industrial Revolution

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Originally published on the ECOreport.

Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein have achieved Germany’s renewable target for 2025. They already obtain 40% of their energy from renewables on an annual basis. A technological breakthrough, the digitization of industry, will be required to go further. This region of 4.5 million people expects to obtain 70% of its energy from renewables by 2025 and 100% by 2035. Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg will be modelling the fourth industrial revolution.

Containerhafen / Windkrafträder / container terminal / wind turb

Showcasing The Fourth Industrial Revolution

According to the booklet NEW 4.0, Northern German Energy Transition:

NEW 4.0« is a unique project initiative in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein combining the forces of business, science and politics.”NEW” stands for the Norddeutsche Energie- Wende (Northern German Energy Transition) and »4.0« refers to the brink of the fourth industrial revolution: the digitisation of industry resulting from the smart networking of systems, an increasingly important component in the energy transition. As a large-scale transnational project, the aim of NEW 4.0 is to achieve a sustainable energy supply and thereby ensure the future viability of the region. More than 50 partners from the region are combining all necessary competencies and solution potentials to accelerate the energy transition in Northern Germany.

This is very good news for a world concerned about climate change. Unlike North America, which is a long way from reaching the 1990 emissions benchmark set by the Kyoto Accord, Germany’s emissions are already 20% below 1990 levels. NEW 4.0 is expected to reduce the region’s CO2 emissions by another 50 to 70%.
Windkraft Region Grabau/ wind energy - Photo: /

Already Exists On A Small Scale

Hamburg Marketing GmbH points to already existing examples of this energy transition on a small scale:

“In the automated Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA) in Hamburg, battery-powered heavy goods vehicles transport containers between ships and storage yards. An intelligent software control system ensures that the removable batteries of these self-propelled vehicles are charged whenever there are high supplies of wind power available from the north German electricity grid. This guarantees efficient and eco-friendly operations of the container terminal. At the same time, this lighthouse project helps relieve the grid systems, which are strained by fluctuating power input from renewable energy sources.

“Only a few kilometres away from the bustling CTA there is further proof of the energy transition’s progress: the Energy Bunker Wilhelmsburg, a former WW2 flak bunker, has been transformed into a green energy power plant. As part of the Renewable Wilhelmsburg climate protection scheme, the bunker supplies a local heating network with over 3,000 residential units with renewable thermal energy, while at the same time feeding green electricity for around 1,000 households into the power grid. In the future, the Energy Bunker will also be used to convert excess wind electricity into heat.”

According to Dr Werner Beba, head of the Competence Centre for Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency (CC4E) at the HAW Hamburg, NEW 4.0 will build upon these existing projects.

“As part of the overall venture we will be coordinating a total of 101 individual projects. The partners of our Innovation Alliance will be developing projects aimed at improving flexibility, load transfer and storage. For example, with power-to-heat plants we are able to convert electricity into heat and feed it into Hamburg’s district heating grid. Battery storage facilities are already existent on a smaller scale on the wind farms. Now we are planning to connect larger areas to electrical energy storage systems. The novelty of our venture lies in merging all these components via communication and network technologies and operating it under the roof of one overall system, which is yet unprecedented.”

Container ship on the Elbe Photo: / Andreas Vallbracht

Making NEW 4.0 Possible

About 60 regional and trans-regional partners have formed an “innovation alliance” to make NEW 4.0 possible.

“With Trimet, Aurubis and ArcelorMittal we have Hamburg’s three largest energy- consuming enterprises on board of the project. Together, they consume about 25 percent of Hamburg’s electricity demands, which amounts to 12 billion kilowatt hours annually. As “load management flexibility partners,” industrial companies will play an important role in the project. By analysing the relevant production processes, we may be able to use surplus electricity whenever it is accrued in the grid. Optimised load management holds considerable potential for the successful implementation of the energy transition. Such synchronisation of production and consumption is one of the core tasks on the way to innovating the energy system,” explained Dr Baba.
Container terminal with wind turbine - Photo: / Ottmar Heinze

The partnership includes grid operators like TenneT, HanseWerk, Stromnetz Hamburg, and Schleswig-Holstein Netz. There are also “energy suppliers such as Hamburg Energie and Vattenfall, several public utilities such as Stadtwerke Norderstedt, Glückstadt and Flensburg, and technological companies such as Siemens and HanseWerk Natur.” Scientific input is coming from Fraunhofer, ISIT (Institute for Silicon Technology)Itzehoe, CC4E of the HAW Hamburg, the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), the University of Hamburg, the Helmut-Schmidt University, the universities of applied sciences FH Lübeck, FH Kiel and FH Flensburg, and the Hamburg Institute of International Economics.

This alliance will invest around €90 million over the next four years. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy will put in another EUR 44 million.

Photo credits: Container terminal / wind turbines at Hamburg by Christian Spahrbier courtesy; Windkraft Region Grabau/ wind energy – Photo: /; Container ship on the Elbe Photo: / Andreas Vallbracht; Container terminal with wind turbine – Photo: / Ottmar Heinze

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Roy L Hales

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the Cortes Currents (formerly the ECOreport), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of British Columbia. He is a research junkie who has written over 2,000 articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

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