Renewable electricity generation
RWE is going to invest the lion’s share of its available financial resources in expansion of renewable energies. While renewables-based energy primarily sourced from hydropower and onshore wind power already provides a substantial part of the energy supply, additional innovations in wind energy, solar thermal energy and solar energy are needed, however, in order to create sufficient technological options to meet the ambitious targets for the expansion of renewables.
Today, the majority of wind energy is sourced from wind farms which are erected on land (onshore plants). As wind energy is further expanded over the coming years, some of the offshore wind farms coming on stream in the future will exceed the power output installed in a large coal-fired or nuclear power station. Offshore wind farms achieve greater wind yield because the winds are stronger and more uniform on the open sea. They are also constructed a long way from residential districts and this enhances acceptance among the general public. However, the construction of offshore wind farms places high demands on technology and materials. The plants are erected in water up to 40 metres deep. Some of the electricity is generated up to 100 kilometres from the coast and it has to be transmitted to consumers via an appropriate grid connection to the electricity grid. Service and maintenance also presents significant challenges due to the location and the impact of weather conditions.
We are currently carrying out most offshore projects in the United Kingdom and we have consequently been involved in the initiative ‘Offshore Wind Accelerator’ (OWA) of the Carbon Trust since 2008. Nine companies developing offshore wind farms have joined forces in this initiative. RWE Innogy is currently testing innovative buoys designed to take wind measurements. These are located at the Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm and form part of the ‘OWA Programme’. The aim of the innovative wind measurement buoys is to record local wind conditions as precisely as possible. This information forms an important basis for optimum development of subsequent construction and operation of offshore wind farms.
In the year 2012, the ELMŰ- ÉMÁSZ Group launched a small but complex renewable energies project at a therapeutic riding centre in Fót near Budapest in Hungary. This involved installing solar collectors, photovoltaics, wind turbines and micro-water turbines, as well as using biogas generated from slurry. An energy storage unit was also created. The project is not just intended as a research and development plant, but also as a training centre. A visitor centre will provide information about the use of ‘green’ technologies.
RWE is also developing technologies, projects and concepts designed to exploit solar energy. RWE is also involved in the visionary ‘Desertec’ project which aims to generate solar electricity in North Africa for supply to Europe. Development work is also being carried out in the area of biogas and new technologies such ‘Energie auf Halden’ (Energy on slag heaps).