In view of the global growth in energy requirements and the accompanying rise in greenhouse gas emissions, increasing attention is being given to the transition to a more sustainable energy supply. In the course of the turnaround in energy policy in Germany, the share of renewable energy forms in overall gross electricity consumption is to be increased to at least 30 percent up to the year 2020.
This calls for optimization of energy supply in ecological and economic terms. The activities of the Working Group on Energy and Mobility primarily take the form of ongoing research projects for developing methods for the ecological assessment of energy systems and modes of energy generation. To this end, the work group is developing comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment models for regenerative and fossil supply concepts in the fields of electricity and heating, which allow analysis of both case-specific issues and trend estimates by means of scenarios. By combining existing Life Cycle Assessment models for renewable energy forms (e.g. wind power, photovoltaics, solar thermal energy, hydroelectric power, biomass, biogas), fossil energy carriers (e.g. crude oil, natural gas, carbon), and power station systems (electricity, steam, thermal energy), it is possible to investigate even complex energy networks with regard to potential environmental impact and optimization measures. In view of the increasing share of renewable energy forms in energy systems and supply grids, energy storage media will assume an important role in securing a reliable supply of energy in future.
Current research projects therefore deal with the ecological assessment of highly diverse energy storage systems such as batteries, chemical storage in the form of methane and hydrogen, pumped-storage power plants, compressed air reservoirs etc.