Excursion – PPRE and SEM 2014
By Y. Karun Kumar and Miriam Neumann
On 11 August 2014 the final excursion for students from the postgraduate programme in renewable energies and sustainability economics and management started. Starting in lower Saxony, in Jühnde, we first visited the Bio-energy village. Jühnde is a role model for decentralized energy supply hence it was the first village in Germany that started to use biomass from local agriculture (silage and liquid manure) in order meet energy requirement of 750 villagers of Jühnde in terms of heat and electricity. There we realized that the participation of villagers is a key success factor.
Our second visit was Hoppecke in Brilon. Hoppecke is a family-owned company that manufactures batteries since 1927, especially for industrial applications. At Brilon, it produces lead-acid and alkine battery systems. During the detailed visit we got to know the central production stages, from mixing suitable electrode material to quality assurance and packing the batteries in the final stage. After having a detailed overview of the battery production process, it was interesting to see batteries of Hoppecke in use at some of the following company visits.
Afterwards, Close to Brilon, in Ramsbeck we visited a former mine which is nowadays used for museum purposes. As, the mining was not profitable anymore it was closed in 1974. Our guided tour in the museum gave information about the geological facts of the mine. After the museum, we went through into the mine, and had a chance to get in touch with the daily routine of a miner: We took a small train to get into the inner part of the mine. There, we explored old electro-hydraulically operated drilling machines and the road trains which were installed in the last century.
Coming from Ramsbeck we went further in the Ruhr area to Herne´s Academy Mont-Cesis . Mont-Cenis was once a coal mine but during the years of structural change in the Ruhr area the mine of Mont-Cenis also had to be closed in 1978. In the 90s the State of North-Rhine-Westphalia built a modern energy park which is nowadays used as training academy for the State. The energy park encompasses a solar power plant on the roof of the building and a combined heat and power plant based on mine gases. All in all, the academy impressed everyone by its special design which tried to bridge between the era of coal mining and future era of energy supply systems by renewable sources.
Our first organisation in the financial capital of Germany “Frankfurt” was the JUWI AG. In the beginning we had an interesting presentation and we were overwhelmed by knowing the facts and figures of this young company and its achievements. We started the company tour with the highly appreciated and awarded “energy efficient building” of JUWI. Later we had a field trip of wind turbines and PV plants. We had the lunch at the company canteen and finally we finished with an overview of the electric cars the company had. It was great to see in real “the German style of operating and managing” an enterprise.
Our next and final visit in Frankfurt was to the Headquarters of the GIZ (Die Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit). We had been given presentations of the organisational structure and some of the projects by young professionals from the different departments. We got an overview of its functions and the role of GIZ for supporting the German government and the international cooperation. We also learnt the process of recruitment to work at GIZ.
Then we had our journey through the beautiful Bavarian landscapes to Munich. Our first company was E.ON Walchensee-Kraftwerk, an historical Hydro Power plant. Initially we had a guided explanation about the geography of the location and the process from the project initiation to the end of construction phase. Later we had the guided tour of the plant site. Many of the students were excited as it was their first visit to a real hydropower plant.
Besides the visit of the hydro power plant in Munich, we got the chance to get in touch with the Bavarian culture and cuisine – after having guided tour to the main sightseeing spots we went to a beergarden to have traditional Augustiner beer with potatoes and knuckle.
Our last and final energy company was Steca electronics, an electronic equipment manufacturer. Their business in the renewable energy sector is to develop charge controllers and the inverters. Firstly, we had a very warm welcome and then they gave us a presentation about the scope and range of the products the company. We learnt that they have very innovative and efficient charge controllers and also they have high quality management. Then we see the production and assembly lines, where the quality check was observed at every important step in the process.
Surrounded by the mixed feelings we started our journey from München towards the Alpen Mountains. From an altitude of 1400m, we started our trekking passing through the beautiful landscapes and sheeps, which accompanied us along the way to the hut. It was a unique experience on its own for everyone of us. At the mountain hut, we study an hybrid energy system, where the solar panels, solar collectors, a wind turbine, a diesel engine, a hydraulic ram and batteries work simultaneously for meeting the different energy demands of the hut.
In this excursion we got a practical view and new learnings followed by a interesting discussions from different fields of renewables, the technical and development aspects, economics, sustainability and, the energy efficiency. In this road trip and especially with the trekking in the Alps, we got to know each other more, we learned together, we shared, we played and we helped each other at different levels and capacity. At the mountain hut, we lost in between the laughs and the games along with the company of the bavarian beer. Being in a group, we were without any worry of the outside world and the time. At a point of time, the caretaker of the house had to mention us about the sleeping times of the hut. We also had quite funny moments during the nights as well. Everyone in the end has made a safe journey back home. It will remain as one of the most memorable time for the students of the PPRE and SEM course. We have become much stronger than before.