The Future Power Plant

I’m sitting on the train to the annual conference of the German Renewable Energy Research Association in Freiburg. The trains depart is delayed stopping in Stuttgart which is becoming one of Europe’s biggest train station, and being build underground on of the most advanced construction sites in the world.
The Deutsche Bahn magazine smiles at me with a new, green logo and a closer look reveals its recent subject: sustainability, and that with my Bahncard(a bonus card for “cheaper” tickets) I’m travelling with 100% renewable electricity. Though, the first part of my journey was on a Diesel powered train.
There can’t be a better place to finally write a first post to my new blog. It’s easy to guess now, this blog will be on renewable energy and the sustainable life. In other words: on the future of power.
I want this to become a platform for discussion, an online think tank where I put my thoughts to “paper, as an impulse, that grows and sets in motion the energy of thoughts. So this blog becomes a power plant for the future.

Who needs another voice for sustainability?

Everybody talks about sustainability. So apparently, everybody needs to know about it, and everybody knows about it.
So why start a blog on something everybody knows?
Well, honestly, I think that sustainability is one of the most misused and overused words. A word that just connotes something positive, yet is so abstract that few really know what it means. People tend to accept that if someone claims to do something in a sustainable way it must be good, because there is no way to test whether the electricity that is powering my train (finally moving) comes from solar panels, wind power, or one of our beautiful German coal power plants of which we’re too scared to shut them down for the jobs that will be lost.

Frankly, I believe there is loads to talk about renewables, about sustainable energy and living, because we’re in the middle of figuring out how to design the future of our energy supply. I don’t believe that this blogs subtitle is too populist. Climate change is a proof for the impact of energy on our planet. In the future we might end up at a point where only the amount of energy we have decides about if we can accomplish our goals or not. Ideally, without blowing up our atmosphere.

The future blues

Gas and chemical tanks rush past me on a cargo train. And while I know it’s supply for our industry, the backbone of our wealth, it makes me think what is that stuff they are using 50 tanks of 20m³ (or 20,000 liters) of? Can it be good? I bet no matter which company is using it, on their website you will find them describing themselves as especially sustainable.
Where will this all end? And who am I to make these problems mine? Why write it down and make it public?

I’m a student, so I’m living a life governed of learning. I’m doing my masters in sustainable energy. Yes, even in a uni course it’s there.
So naturally I’m busy with learning about energy technologies and sustainability. And I’m trying to put some of these aspects to my everyday life experiencing the struggle everybody has to have with it. At least, I can relax on the train travelling green.
As said before, I would like this to be a platform for discussion and thoughts. I learn new things every day and thanks to my program (yes, I actually mean it) I had the chance to do some interesting projects on renewable energy production.

So all this will be a part of this blog. Cause if we are designing our future right now, we’re all a part of it and little things might help. I can’t imagine how the future might be like. All I know is that when I was born, Germany was two countries. When I first used a computer I had to learn how to start Tetris and Commander Keen in MS-DOS. And now I just showed my ticket to the conductor on my smartphone screen while I’m writing a blog post sitting on a train.
So I guess quick change is possible.

A friend recently told me he believes that our generation might be the happiest that has ever lived. When you learn about climate change and the struggle in the world, when you just follow the news and see how people flee from their countries risking everything, losing everything, you can’t help thinking: quick change is possible, but are we still standing at the crossroads? Are both ends still possible?
I really hope so. We’re living the time of change and hopefully I’ll be a part of it. The stakes are high, with one planet earth, there isn’t much gambling when you have just one coin left.
The first day of the conference started with an overview of the political goals and actions on supporting the integration of renewable energy in the electricity and heat grids in Germany. There were many interesting talks and interesting people to meet. But this shall be part of a more specific post.
Now I’m back in a hotel room in Freiburg. The first day of the conference is done and I’m left with the feeling: there issomething going on. But a bitter taste stays, not because of the (delicious Spätburgunder) local red wine, but when you think of all the things that remain to be done.
Over the last hours of the conference I met a professor who taught solar energy in my program. And his thought that as a young person you should do what you believe is you way still echoes in my head now. So I guess there can’t be much wrong with this project, even if it ends up being just my personal future power plant.

I want to try to find the sustainability to keep up writing, and to keep whoever is interested posted about what I think it is, that needs to be done; there are enough ideas what to write about.
I’ll keep you posted.

Yours, Konrad

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