April 24, 2019

Huge Lego bricks and wind turbines as far as the eye can see


The current cohorts of our master's program Renewable Energy Systems recently spent four days in northern Germany as part of the annual Country Module. From April 11-14, 2019, they visited numerous projects and companies in the renewable energy sector in order to get to know the German market and to deepen their knowledge.

In Cuxhaven, at the mouth of the Elbe in the Wadden Sea, the students visited the Cuxhaven Port Development Company, an international company that, among other things, specializes in the production and logistics of offshore wind turbines. The participants where impressed by the tons of individual parts of the wind turbines, which are placed on top of each other "like very huge Lego bricks" at their final destination. Back in Hamburg we went up high. A former anti-aircraft-bunker was converted into an eco-power plant in the district of Wilhelmsburg, providing around 1.500 households in the surrounding area with environmentally friendly energy. During the ascent of the so-called Energiebunker, the students marveled at the innovative project as well as the 360?° view over Hamburg and the Elbe island. Afterwards the students enjoyed a common dinner in the city center of Hamburg.

The group spent day 2 at the Hamburg Harburg University of Technology. Interesting facts about the current market situation in Germany were provided by the Institute for Environmental Technology and Energy Economics. We also received an overview of trends, development opportunities and limitations. The students of this year's graduation class then presented the results of their research work on the energy market in northern Germany which was the last point on the schedule of this intensive day at the TU Hamburg.

The last two days were used for excursions in and around Hamburg. At the FH Westküste the participants got informations about the project ENTREE100 of the development agency Region Heide. They are developing and practically testing solutions for a 100% renewable energy supply. In the afternoon, students got an exciting insight into a historic hydropowerplant. Today, the powerplant is primarily used to regulate the water levels of the nearby lake, which feds the plant. The students were allowed to visit the historic facilities (the power plant was hooked up to the grid in 1926) and witnessed the start of the massive turbines. Since the turbine brake has been defective for many years and the listed building cannot be renewed, the mechanical process of braking is nowadays done quite rustic with a wooden board, which is clamped under the running turbine.

The last program point was windy, in the truest sense of the word. Already in the 1990s, wind power plants were built on a former landfill in Hamburg. The energy mountain Georgswerder is widely visible with its wind turbines and feeds nearby industries with the energy gained. Energy is also gained inside the mountain: landfill gas with high methane content is produced by permanent decomposition processes in the hill.

The impressions and information gained at the Country Module will be part of the student’s presentations which will be held in the upcoming modules. The next Country Module is up in spring 2020. Many students are already curious about the next goal, but they still have to be patient. Since the inputs should be as up-to-date and exciting as possible, a new decision on where to go is made every year. Our program team is already in the middle of evaluating Europe-wide projects for 2020 and has already spotted a few potential candidates!

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