Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Nov 19

German Smart Grid Leads the Way in Conservation

Posted in Energy Economy | Energy Industry | Environment and Sustainability

Smart Grid Germany There is an obvious push on not only using less energy, but in finding other forms of energy that will allow the world to recover from the years of literally pillaging its natural resources. Germany has been using some pretty innovative techniques to lead the way and their designers are coming up with more energy efficient homes all the time. However, with the promotion of using a smart grid Germany hopes to make people even more aware of the energy that they are using and more importantly, wasting.

One of the problems with the general public using too much electricity is that at any given time, you have no idea how much you are actually using. If people could actually see what their power usage was at a specific time, it may have a big enough effect on them to get them to cut back. Seeing the energy pile up as you are using it would be a definite wakeup call for a lot of people. This is the whole purpose of the smart grid Germany is developing. This information will be readily available and will hopefully result in lower usages and smaller bills for the consumer.

Current grid technology does not allow for this, but with the smart grid in Germany is looking to change all of that. This smart grid technology is very important because if renewable energy as a legitimate power source is going to be a viable option en masse, people are going to have to be aware of what they are using and what is still available to them.

While there are power stations that are solar powered in various areas that are being introduced as alternative energy to get people off of the standard electric grid, many homes are still supplying their own solar power. Supplying power on a grand scale is much more involved and part of the success of the entire project will revolve around users being able to conserve energy so that these renewable energy sources can be successful as they are being introduced to communities.

Currently, the only way for solar power to be stored is through batteries. In addition to innovations like the smart grid in Germany is developing, everyone is looking for ways to store solar power that will be more efficient. Currently, once the battery runs down, it has to recharge. To make the most of this energy source, something more reliable will eventually have to be introduced. The smart grid Germany is working on is one step, but there is plenty of room for further improvement.

  • Thomas Finger

    What is it about German culture that often has them in a stronger position than the rest of Europe, and often times further ahead of most of the world? Do they have collaboration with private industry and government? Why are some of the best made machines always coming out of Germany? We have paper making equipment here in Wisconsin that can only be purchased from them and maintained by them–It really makes me curious how they have maintained this “edge” in so many manufacturing and cutting edge technologies for many years now.

  • Thomas Finger

    One thing that is starting to really confound me is the claim that all these green jobs will lift many people out of poverty–I am in my mid 40’s looking for something in this new “green” area and so far I have not been able to see, hence apply for one job in this exciting new field—lots of hype though–but no actual jobs that I have been able to find–anyone have suggestions on this topic—where can a middle aged guy in SE Wisconsin find a job in this field?

  • larry hagedon

    Sounds like a great idea, to have a monitor in your home that tells you at any moment what your current rate of electrical use is, as well as cumulative. being able to toggle from Kilowatts to monetary scale would be a natural and highly useful feature.

    I do take issue with the statement that batteries are the only storage device for solar. Storing energy as molten salt and using that to power a steam generator 24/7 is one method, as is pumping water up a hill to a reservoir, then letting it flow back out to spin a turbine. You can also make hydrogen from solar power, store it, and then use it to power a generator.

    Many people are now developing varied proprietary and ingenious electrical storage technology.

  • Shane LaHousse

    Responding to Thomas Finger’s comments on getting into the Green field: Whenever you switch from one field to another (green or not) you are an unknown entity and will not command the same level of compensation since there is more risk for the employer. There is also the fact that many of these new companies are smaller, marginally profitable (if at all) and working in markets that are nascent. Ok so you’ve taken the plunge and now work for a financially unstable company that doesn’t make any money. This is good how? Well you are now ahead of the curve (“plastics” in the 60s, PCs in the 80s or the internet in the 90s) in a market with fewer seasoned blokes positioned to demonstrate leadership and be rewarded more responsibility in either your company or another (remember this is a small field and there is a better chance you’ll get noticed). Alternative ways of getting experience or building the network is to get involved with a renewable energy or energy efficiency non-profit.

  • Adnan

    Hi Thomas,

    Welcome to the global economy and change!

    I am neither being facetious nor condescending, but rather being very positive.

    I am middle-aged myself, and find that I do not have the job prospects that I and many of my fellow Americans once took for granted.

    I have worked for world-class, Fortune 100 companies, some of them that have made the technologies that we use today, so ubiquitous …one of them being the internet, itself. I worked for the company that developed the TCP/IP protocol on which the internet works. At one time, it was the 2nd largest computer company in the world, with over $12 billion in sales. Today, it is no more. It has been broken up and merged into other companies.

    I moved on… including grabbing an opportunity to work overseas, and starting our own business in Iowa. It did well, until 9/11/01, when due to fear gripping the nation our gross take in the business fell 30% and we declared bankruptcy, and losing everything that I had worked for until then, including pursuing a dream of coming to America and doing well. [I was born and grew up in India, a country that many in America denigrate or joke about as being the “outsource capital” for geeky tech support. But it is much more than that. Read on.]

    However, I have a world-class education and I am aware of what is happening and I realized that change is here to stay …in fact, more is on the way.

    I have been more fortunate (and thus, blessed) than most, in that I have traveled the world, and conducted business on 4 continents: North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

    My personal experience has taught me that America, being a vast and privileged nation, has made itself insular to the world. The attitude that developed (quite imperceptibly and mind you over decades) was that we are “the best” in most every category. Thus, we have allowed this mindset to blind ourselves to change that has been happening the world over all along. Countries other than ourselves have intelligent and hardworking people too. These people, with the help of good national policies in their nations, have helped propel them to come up to American standards, and in certain areas to even exceed America.

    For example, I attended the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), before completing my engineering education at Rutgers University in NJ.

    In 2006 or 2007 ranking by The Times (of London) Higher Education Supplement (THES), IIT was listed as the 3rd best engineering & technology school in the world, right after MIT and Stanford University. The latest THES ranking lists it further down the list, but, it still is amongst the world’s premier engineering schools.

    To get in to IIT then, in my days, was tough. I ranked in the top 1000 students, all-India, in its own entrance exam that annually at that time (the late 60s and early 70s), had over 100,000 entrance exam takers — the best of students from all over India, and a few from overseas. Today, it is even tougher to get into IIT. Any IIT-ian, even the lowest performing student can hold its own against the best students in any well-regarded American university, …of for that matter anywhere in the world.

    In fact, Bill Gates, of Microsoft, calls IIT the best engineering school in the world. Unlike THES, which bases the rankings on given metrics, Gates’ comment is a personal opinion, but nevertheless, an illuminating one for most Americans who may not even have heard of this school!

    …Or for that matter, how many Americans have heard of
    Technion/Israel Institute of Technology (the other IIT 🙂 ), or ETH in Zürich, or TU-Delft, or McGill University or University of Moscow, or Haneda University, besides our own top American schools such as MIT, UC-Berkeley, and Caltech? You see, I knew of most of these prestigious world schools while I was growing up in India in the 60s.

    It is the same in China, Korea, and Japan. In general, education in Europe, too, while not as competitive as in Asia, is still far “better” than in America. [Btw, here I am talking about primary through high school education, not university level education.]

    It starts with an deferential attitude toward studies from childhood from our elementary schools to high schools.

    While in primary through high school, I regarded my teachers with respect. Physical Education, was a weekly ½-hour subject. It was not the end-all and be-all of our schooling. Yes, we played while at lunch break on the playground, playing volleyball or soccer. But for the rest, sports did not overshadow the school experience; which was to learn about the world and be the best at it.

    Success comes from—besides quality education—aspiration, mental tenacity and hard work.

    Sad to say, that America today is behind in compared to many parts of the world.

    Today, I am back at school (university) pursuing a different career and getting an MS engineering degree to help me make the transition to a better career. This is, after over 3 decades of not being in school… so it is hard—much harder than when I was a 20-something in college. Needless, to say, I am the oldest student in my class. I struggle to maintain the top grades, and I am not the best in my class, as I find the learning is slower at my age, and I am not the fastest when it comes to time-based test-taking. But, I bet you, I know my subjects and will utilize the knowledge in my new chosen field well.

    So the questions to you, Thomas, are these: What education and qualifications do you have? Are they matched to what the changing world (and the job market) needs? You asked for advice, but listed none of your qualifications or education, which are the key to moving forward.

    I will leave you to make your own (hopefully informed) conclusions as to what has caused this.

    Wishing you, Thomas, the best in moving forward!


  • John

    Thank you Adnan for sharing your thoughts with us. I think succeeding in todays business world has a lot to do with the ability to adapt. It is not the strongest, nor the smartest who survives but the one who is most adaptable to change. I also had the opportunity to tap in a lot of different fields, working in different countries and therefore expanding my horizon. It is important to stay open minded at all times and to be creative. Find out what your strength are and use them to your benefits, find out what your weaknesses are and improve them.

    At one point I just took the initiative and founded my own business for Solar Technology. I did not have the technical background nor the financial background but I managed to pull it off within 4 month and now it is running. It dedication, enthusiasm and a vision which will let you work 14h a day. But now that it is running a slowed my pace down as there is also another side to live except work.

    By the way I am from Germany and to answer your question regarding German engineering I think it has to do with cultural differences. Germans are in someway quite rigorous in their work and they like to document everything, these are traits which come in handy when you are engineering. Besides, the education system fosters free thinking. Understanding theories is only a small part of the studies, important is to be able to apply concepts in different situations, questioning concepts and developing new ones.

  • Bob Lelkes


    like Adnan, I’ve lived and worked in various countries, and I’ve added to my qualifications as a patent attorney over the years. My additional qualification as a European patent attorney and German as a second language has allowed me to live and work in Germany even though I grew up in Ohio. I am very satisfied living in Munich with my German wife and two children.

    Leaving one’s home country is not for everyone. However, expanding one’s experience and qualifications creates more options, especially if the additions build on qualifications and skills you already have. Developing a rare combination of competencies can put you in a niche for which there is a sustained demand.

    Getting to where you want to be sometimes means accepting jobs for less than optimal income in order to gain valuable experience.

    This thread may or may not be the right place to go into detail about your qualifications. If you feel comfortable sharing your background and experience with us as Adnand suggested, it may lead to something sooner or later.

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