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energy

360

°

Facts, figures, oddities – a panorama of the world of energy.

by Carsten Paulun  April 2017

High winds cheaper

than deep coal

70 companies and research institutes around the world are working on projects that aim to utilize high-altitude winds for energy generation. EnerKite, a company in Brandenburg, Germany, expects the price of electricity generated from high-altitude winds to be four (euro) cents per kilowatt hour, which would make it cheaper than power produced from coal, the currently cheapest energy carrier.

 

More on the topic of wind energy here

Paving the way for the energy-saving lamp

75 %

of the energy used for cooking can be saved by using a lid. For those who’d like to save even more, a pressure cooker is the way to go. It saves another 50 percent.

Only 3 copper atoms are the diameter dimensions of the thinnest power supply line’s core, sheathed by an ultra-thin sulfur-diamond layer. The intriguing aspect is that, like tiny Lego bricks, the molecules independently position themselves in the appropriate configuration to grow toward the cable, which itself is not discernible by the naked eye. Naturally, these micro-conductors are intended for use in applications where space is at a premium, such as cell phones.

 

Source: Stanford University

1926 marks a major milestone on the road toward energy saving lamps. The idea of the German inventor Edmund Germer to fill its glass jacket under higher pressure and to coat it inside with a fluorescent substance that transforms ultraviolet radiation into light revolutionizes the gas discharge lamp. The first rudimentary form of today’s energy saving lamp is born. The concept of fluorescent lamps (pictured) for which Germer filed a patent application is bought by General Electric. The first major production of energy saving lamps for domestic uses is launched in 1938.

56

of energy are available to a Formula E driver per race, which corresponds to the amount of energy of 20,000 AA batteries or the electricity consumption of a two-person household in six days. More about energy in motorsport here.

kwh

The ABT Schaeffler FE02 is a purebred racer packed with high-tech.

38 million years

This is how long all currently operated nuclear reactors would have to run at full capacity in order to achieve the same energy turnover as the Sun does per second. This makes the Sun the absolute star among Earth’s energy suppliers, although only a fraction of the solar energy reaches our planet. More on the topic of solar energy starting here.

30,000 °C (54,032 °F)

This is the heat generated for a few microseconds inside a flash of lightning that is naturally generated during a thunderstorm. Before lightning strikes, voltages of several hundred million volts may occur between the thunderstorm clouds and the ground. That’s when the currents flowing within the thunderbolt within fractions of a second may, on rare occasions, amount to as much as 100,000 amperes – for comparison: an energy saving lightbulb requires 0.1 amperes. Flashes of lightning cannot solve our energy problems, though. During an average lightning discharge the amount of energy released is no more than that delivered by about ten liters (2.6 gallons) of heating oil. A flash of lightning simply doesn’t last long enough.

450

nuclear power plants supply grids around the globe

 

Source: atw – International Journal for Nuclear Power, (31/12/2016)

582

percent too much

Many digital electricity meters indicate excessive consumption, according to research by the University of Twente in the Netherlands. According to these findings, more than half of the electricity meters investigated indicated levels that were by far higher than they should have been, in some cases by as much as 582 percent! The researchers provided the reason for this as well. Modern energy saving domestic appliances don’t draw power in wave-like ways but abruptly. Meters, however, are unable to process this abruptness and, as a result, provide wrong measurements.

8 years, 7 months and 6 days of screaming generates enough sound energy to heat a cup of coffee.

800 volts

can be generated by an electric eel. The South American sweet water fish has up to 6,000 electrocytes which, combined, produce a current of one ampere for about two milliseconds. The electric eel uses this current for defense as well as for attacking its prey. The electric shock can even be hazardous for humans because it may lead to muscular spasms and respiratory arrest.

Heating en passant

250,000 people heat a renovated building in Stockholm with their body heat. They’re the daily visitors of the central train station of Scandinavia’s major transportation hub. Combined, they produce about 25 megawatts of heat, which is conducted to a 13-story office building across the street. This not only reduces CO2 but also cuts energy costs by about a quarter. Paris uses the thermal discharge of people at train stations as well, heating 17 apartments with the waste heat from a single metro station.

The world’s 10 largest power stations –

nine of them operate with hydropower

The Three Gorges Dam (China, pictured)

 

Itaipú (Brazil)

 

Xiluodu (China)

 

Guri (Venezuela)

 

Tucuri (Brazil)

 

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa (Japan)*

 

Grand Coulee (USA)

 

Xiangjiaba (China)

 

Longtan (China)

 

Sayano-Shushenskaya (Russia)

22.5 GW

14 GW

13.9 GW

10 GW

8.4 GW

8.2 GW

6.8 GW

6.4 GW

6.3 GW

6.3 GW

* Nuclear power (currently out of service) Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (2015)

The construction of the Three Gorges Dam took 15 years and cost about 75 billion U.S. dollars

Annual Worldwide

per capita energy consumption

Tons of oil equivalent (toe) per capita (1 toe = 11,630 kWh)

0–1      1–2      2–3     3–4      > 4

Source: World Bank 2013

2,000 times

the amount of light emitted by wax candles is generated by fireflies from the same amount of energy. Even modern LED lamps require 7.5 times more energy for the amount of light a firefly generates.

is the energy contained in 100 grams of Brazil nuts, which makes them the powerhouse among foodstuffs. For comparison: 100 grams of sugar “only” has 405 kcal.

660 kcal

For one kilowatt energy autogas (LPG) emits 128.1 grams of CO2, natural gas (CNG) 249.1 grams, gasoline 261.8 grams and diesel 269.4 grams

564 million metric

tons saved

 

China reduced its black coal mining activities between 2013 and 2016 by 4.9 % per year on average. While this doesn’t sound like much, the resulting amount that has stayed underground is huge because China with a world market share of about 50 % in coal mining and consumption is the number one coal country by far. The aggregated 564 million metric tons nearly equate to the annual amount mined by India, the third-largest coal nation.

 

Source: National Bureau of Statistic of China

Facebook status updates made from a smartphone consume 100 times less energy than those made from a desktop PC. And 100 million users surfing the internet using their smartphones instead of their home computers cuts annual greenhouse gas emissions by the amount emitted by 430,000 cars during the same period.

 

Source: Nokia

600 million

people were without electricity in northern and eastern India on July 31, 2012. 20 of 28 Indian states were affected by the largest power outage in history. The cause was grid overload.

Knowledge saves energy

Googling 100 times consumes about as much energy as a 60-watt lightbulb does in half an hour. The reason is that Google’s data centers are energy guzzlers, accounting for about 0.013 % of the global energy requirement, according to Google.

Eternal light

The world’s longest-burning light bulb shines in the Livermore fire department in the U.S. state of California – consistently since 1901, except for a few incidents like power outages that weren’t the bulb’s fault. The “Centennial Bulb” has been watched by webcams (centennialbulb.org) for a few years. Unlike the bulb, they already had to be replaced three times.

Solar eruptions

generate energy levels above 10 mega electron volts as a result of particle acceleration. This equates to an acceleration voltage of one billion volts. The photo composition shows such a solar eruption in a size comparison with Earth.

$1 quadrillion is the projected cost of the conversion to renewable energies by 2030.

Earth as benchmark

» Energy cannot be generated but only transformed from one form into another

Law of energy conservation according to Julius Robert von Mayer, James Prescott Joule and Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz

€ 400 million

in Germany alone could be saved by energy-efficient street lighting, according to estimates by the NRW Energy Agency. Street lights in 50 percent of German communities use technology from the 1960s.

The author

Facts and figures are second nature to our author Carsten Paulun (50). Math and physics were even his major “Abitur” (high school graduation exam or A-levels) subjects. At the moment, he spends every free minute on his smartphone checking the hourly yield of the solar power system he just bought. According to his calculations, it will have paid itself off after 11.27 years. If the weather does its part ...

Photo Credits EnerKite, Wikipedia (2), ABT Sportsline, Colourbox.de (5), STR/AFP/Getty, Maxim Kazmin/Fotolia, centennialbulb.org, NASA

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Seething island

Fire and steam

A 100-year detour

A long time journey of the history of energy and its sources

The volcanic island of Iceland shows how much energy the Earth harbors and how it can be tapped

Electric motors were the norm in the automobile’s infancy. Then they disappeared – only to come back now charged with new energy

The online version of Schaeffler’s technology magazine

0–1   1–2   2–3   3–4   > 4

Aufbruch zur Energiesparlampe

30,000 °C

(54,032 °F)

This is the heat generated for a few microseconds inside a flash of lightning that is naturally generated during a thunderstorm. Before lightning strikes, voltages of several hundred million volts may occur between the thunderstorm clouds and the ground. That’s when the currents flowing within the thunderbolt within fractions of a second may, on rare occasions, amount to as much as 100,000 amperes – for comparison: an energy saving lightbulb requires 0.1 amperes. Flashes of lightning cannot solve our energy problems, though. During an average lightning discharge the amount of energy released is no more than that delivered by about ten liters (2.6 gallons) of heating oil. A flash of lightning simply doesn’t last long enough.

Die Infografik als PDF

Earth as benchmark