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Forward-looking ideas for a successful energy transition Winners of the ninth German Renewables Award, 2020

Forward-looking ideas for a successful energy transition
German Renewables Award Winners 2020 (EEHH GmbH/Jan Brandes)

Modular hydrogen generation and distribution, artificial neural networks for monitoring offshore farms, transforming the Hamburg heating network – for abundance of ideas and courage, the winners of this year’s ninth German Renewables Award score highly. Applicants submitted their work under four categories: ‘Product innovation of the year’, ‘Project of the year’, ‘Student thesis of the year’ and the ‘Journalism prize’. Experts proposed candidates for the ‘Lifetime achievement’ section. The winners were chosen by an independent jury of eight. Yesterday, 22 September 2020, the Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster Agency (EEHH) presented the proud winners with their prizes in Hamburg’s Opernloft Altona, in the presence of Hamburg’s Senator for Economic Affairs, Michael Westhagemann.

‘We are delighted that players in the renewable energy sector have been able to impress us with the unlimited diversity of their ideas even in this year of the coronavirus. This year’s winners have seized on the important trends of our time. Digitalisation is playing a more important role than ever in our industry. An all-encompassing energy transition can only succeed through complete transformation of heating supply. Hydrogen is also a key technology. We see a very positive future for renewable energy, to which industry can give important positive stimuli after the pandemic,’ says EEHH Managing Director Jan Rispens.

Product innovation of the year

Global Tech I, in collaboration with Semco Maritime, developed an application for digitally automated corrosion management. Relevant areas are filmed by drones, damaged places are identified and filtered out. The program documents these and transfers them to a 3D representation. The program thus displays a maintenance record in the form of a 3D model.

‘We are proud that the automatic corrosion management system we developed was able to convince the jury of the Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster Agency, and has won the German Renewable Award for the Innovation category. This project brought together a multidisciplinary team in which, besides ourselves as offshore wind park operators, our international engineering partner Semco Maritime and experts from the digitalisation and AI sectors were all represented. The project is supported by the University of Aalborg and the Energy Cluster Denmark, and we are delighted that, in this way, we are able to promote collaboration on a European level,’ says Susanne Knappstein, Manager of Corporate Communications, Global Tech I Offshore Wind GmbH.

A total of six companies entered the ‘Product innovation of the year’ section.

Project of the year

eFarming GmbH & Co. KG, an affiliated company launched by GP Joule, submitted a concept for a modularly expandable hydrogen generation and distribution network in North Friesland. Hydrogen is produced by wind power at six locations and transported to two eFarm filling stations in Niebüll and Husum in mobile storage containers. This local use of regionally generated electricity is creating increased acceptance of renewable energy.

‘We are happy and very proud that our commitment to a sustainable development of energy systems, and that of all those involved in the project, has been recognised by this award. Back in 2016, we had already developed our vision for a potential recycling economy in the region to the point where it was market-ready. It’s a great experience for us to see it now implemented in practice and, on top of this, winning this award – it clearly shows we’re on the right track. Particularly now, this shows that new economic systems, which can combine ecological benefits with long-term regional economic value creation, will emerge as part of the energy transition,’ says Ove Petersen of the prize award.

Five companies entered submissions in the ‘Project of the year’ category.

Student thesis of the year

In her master’s thesis, Nina Kicherer of HAW Hamburg developed a strategy for the ‘long-term transformation of the Hamburg heating network’ by 2050, examining the available energy and heat sources and regional infrastructure requirements. On the basis of her findings, general recommendations for action are extrapolated for the development of the Hamburg heating network.

‘For far too long, the heating sector has been edited out of the energy transition. I’m therefore all the more pleased that, as a result of the award for my master’s thesis, the heating transition in Hamburg has come under the spotlight. I thank the EEHH very much for this, but also – and especially – the whole heating team at CC4E of HAW Hamburg, for their wonderful support during my thesis work!’ says a delighted Nina Kicherer.

A total of five bachelor’s or master’s theses were submitted.

Life work of the year

Together with 28 other residents of his village, Reinhard Christiansen, a qualified landscape designer based in Ellhöft, close to the Danish border, initiated the ‘Ellhöft wind park’ project which, after many years of planning, went on-grid in 2000. This positive-thinking North Frisian resident never misses an opportunity to promote renewable energy and the utilisation, storage and grid input of energy in his coastal region. He is now the managing director of several wind parks and companies in the renewable energy sector. He was an early and successful champion of repowering – the replacement of old wind power plants by new ones.

‘At the start of this project I always set myself a clear objective and never lost sight of it, regardless of how many obstacles cropped up. With almost every project, there was already some difficulty after the first few steps, a brick wall in our path. My motto was always: We can overcome this wall by knocking it down, jumping over it, tunnelling under it or getting round it some other way – only to discover afterwards, there was another brick wall in the way. However, giving up a project was out of the question. I always kept our objectives firmly in view,’ says Reinhard Christiansen, explaining the secret of his success.

Journalist prize

A master electrician from Zursmannhausen, near Augsburg. provides his house with electricity and heating without fossil fuels all year round, using hydrogen and photovoltaics. This was the extraordinary story that Stefan Hajek, of business weekly Wirtschaftswoche, outlined in his winning entry – ‘Totally self-sufficient? Can do!’ The story of Swabian home experimenter Markus Hörmann is inspirational and makes the energy transition entertaining.

‘There’s hardly any topic where you hear phrases like “That won’t work” or “That’s far too expensive” as often as you do when the topic is the decarbonisation of transport, industry and buildings. Generally speaking, everyone is in favour of it, but when it comes to concrete implementation, it’s always the others who allegedly have an easier time of it than you do. When I learned that Bavarian master electrician Markus Hörmann had taken on one of the most difficult issues (how do you store enough PV and wind energy through German winters?) and solved it for himself and his family, I grabbed my phone at once and asked him for an on-site interview. I am now delighted that his courageous actions have, via this award for my text on the project, indirectly received the recognition from a broader public they deserve,’ says Stefan Hajek.

A total of 15 journalists applied for this year’s EEHH Cluster Journalist prize.

About Astrid Dose

Profilbild zu: Astrid Dose

Talking, writing, organising – and having lots of fun! This is what my days at the EEHH Cluster look like. I’ve been responsible for public relations and marketing for the Hamburg industry network since 2011. I studied History and English and have a soft spot for technical issues.