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The cluster Renewable Energy Hamburg awards pioneering minds of the energy transition Presentation of the German Renewables Award 2017 in four categories

The cluster Renewable Energy Hamburg awards pioneering minds of the energy transition
Winners of the GR Awards 2017: Dr Matthias Puchta, Svenja Wenck, Holger Matthiesen and Jörg Kuhbier (EEHH GmbH/Jens Meier)

The award-winners of the German Renewables Award 2017 proved their inventive spirit with an environmentally sensitive anti-corrosion method for offshore foundations, models for underwater pump storage facilities, regeneration solutions for avoiding age-related performance losses in PV modules. With their winning projects, they have tackled some of the key challenges of the energy transition. They are now being rewarded for these outstanding achievements by a specialist jury consisting of eight proven experts from the renewable energy sector. The Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster presented the German Renewables Award at a gala on 30 November at the International Maritime Museum in Hamburg’s HafenCity.

Managing Director of Renewable Energy Hamburg Jan Rispens was delighted: “The award-winners clearly demonstrate that significant improvements to the details in wind turbines, solar power and energy storage systems are still possible today. As a result, their breadth of application increases, while their impact on the environment, as well as their cost, becomes much lower. For all categories, but especially of course in the ‘Life’s work’ category, we can see that the development of renewable energies is being driven forward by committed and courageous people with a vision and tenacity. This is particularly encouraging.”

Category “Product Innovation of the Year”

The winner of the “Product Innovation of the Year”, E.On Climate & Renewables, used an aluminium injection metallisation process for the first time with its Arkona offshore wind project off the north coast of Rügen, in order to provide better protection for the foundations against corrosion. The project developer used a 350 micrometre-thick aluminium coating instead of the standard zinc-aluminium rings. The advantages here are huge cost savings and a considerably reduced negative impact on the environment. “We are delighted to have succeeded in implementing this jointly developed innovation for the first time in the Arkona offshore wind farm. This further reduces the costs for offshore wind and further minimises the impact on the environment,” E.ON project director Holger Matthiessen told us.

The company Cosinus 3 won a nomination for its submission of an energy storage system based on salt and sun, with variable performance electronics. Windcloud, which was also nominated in this category, operates a computing centre in North Frisia, which is supplied with wind energy and which has access to a storage battery and a biogas plant as a backup.

Category “Project of the Year”

As part of the StEnSEA project funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, the Fraunhofer IWES developed an offshore pump-storage power station in Lake Constance and received the German Renewables Award in the “Project of the Year” category. The concept uses the lake as an upper storage reservoir; the lower storage basin is formed by a hollow body on the floor of the lake. A potential analysis showed a globally installable storage capacity of around 800 TWh.

According to Dr Matthias Puchta, project manager at the Fraunhofer IWES: “In the StEnSea project, we developed a function model for an offshore pump storage power station based on an invention and a feasibility study, with a model scale of 1:10, and successfully tested it in Lake Constance. As a next stage, we aim to test a concrete ball three times that size in the sea, which can then store approximately 50-100 times the amount of energy. The economic application for such storage systems lies at sea depths of 600 to 800 metres. Potential sites have been found off the coasts of Europe, Japan and the US in particular. The potential calculated by us lies at around 1,000 times the pump storage capacity currently installed worldwide – which means that this is an important contribution to the international energy transition.”

Used batteries from electric cars were used by the nominated project partners BMW, Bosch and Vattenfall in order to develop a 2 MW battery energy storage device (BESS). In the joint project “mySMARtlife”, the three cities of Hamburg, Nantes and Helsinki, as “Forerunner Cities”, create concepts for e-mobility, energy networks, energy efficiency and urban data management as part of the Horizon 2020 EU programme.

Category “Student Thesis of the Year”

With the aid of an offset box, Svenja Wenck, who has a bachelor’s degree at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences has enabled CIGS PV modules which have reduced capacity due to age, to be regenerated during ongoing operation, and therefore to increase their capacity. For this, she was presented with the German Renewables Award in the “Student Thesis of the Year” category.

According to Svenja Wenck: “In my bachelor thesis, I studied a cost- and resource-saving alternative to repowering for PID degraded CIGS photovoltaic systems, by regenerating the modules during operation. Also, new theories have emerged regarding the regeneration behaviour of these thin-layer modules”.

Beverly Grafe from the TU Hamburg, developed a concept during her bachelor thesis work for the event-oriented control of the supply chain of offshore wind turbines. Jonathan Kruse, also from the TU Hamburg, investigated the subject of pellet ovens for his master’s thesis, with regard to their energy flows, efficiency and economic profitability compared to conventional heating solutions used in Portugal.

Category “Life’s Work of the Year”

As the water management, energy and city disposal senator, and the head of the Hamburg environmental authority, the lawyer Jörg Kuhbier, this year’s winner of the “Life’s Work of the Year” award, made a key contribution to sustainable climate policy in the Free and Hanseatic City from 1983 to 1991. From 2005 to 2017, in his function as chairman of the board of the “Stiftung Offshore-Windenergie” foundation, he supported the expansion of high-capacity offshore wind farms in Germany and Europe. In 2008, he became a judge at the Hamburg Constitutional Court. Jörg Kuhbier is also currently Partner of Counsel at the legal chambers Becker Büttner Held, focussing on energy, the environment and planning rights.

“The old saying that progress is like a snail has been impressively contradicted by the rapid, pioneering developments in renewable energies since the introduction of the electricity feed-in legislation in December 1990. It has been, and continues to be, a wonderful experience to be involved in this success story together with so many enthusiastic people,” Jörg Kuhbier told us.

Since it was established in 2011, more than 190 member companies and institutions from the metropolitan region of Hamburg have come together in the Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster. The aim is to pool the expertise of the companies, research facilities and institutions in this network and to strengthen and support cooperation in the renewable energy industry. Since 2012, the Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster has presented the German Renewables Award in four categories every year to creative minds and companies working in the renewable energies sector.

For films about the award-winners, go to:


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.