It is expected that by 2050 roughly 80% of the world's population will be living in towns and cities. Concentrations of large numbers of people in relatively small areas also means that large amounts of energy will be required. The way in which energy is generated will also change as a result of renewable energies. So what will the supply of energy in the towns and cities of the future look like? To find out, we asked Jürgen Winterholler. He is in charge of energy system development at MTU.
What do you think the cities of the future will look like?
Jürgen Winterholler: I believe that more and more people will have to live in smaller spaces. I can imagine that cars will drive as if on rails, everything will be interconnected and visually mapped and the demand for energy will continue to rise. To do justice to those requirements, energy generation, storage, retrieval and distribution will have to be a central part of the planning of new building complexes
and industrial areas.
Do we already have products suitable for large conurbations?
Jürgen Winterholler: If we are talking about energy, it is not just a case of generating electricity but also heat and cooling capacity. The expansion of large conurbations could mean a return to greater use of localized CHP generation. We already have very efficient products in that area. In addition, our emergency backup gensets provide security for the most critical electrical equipment. That is especially important for avoiding panic situations and maintaining convenience levels where large numbers of people are living together in a small space. Sustainability will play an important role in cities of the future.
What exactly will that be?
Jürgen Winterholler: To help tackle climate change, we have to do more work on our gas products. As well as overall efficiency and emissions, flexibility plays an important part in this area. If we can succeed in transferring the positive characteristics of our diesel emergency backup gensets (fast startup and high load uptake) to our gas gensets (continuous duty, high efficiency, low emissions) then we will have taken a big step forwards. In future we will also offer highly efficient exhaust gas aftertreatment systems for our gas and diesel gensets.
How will our products have to adapt in the future?
Jürgen Winterholler: We have recognized that we have to combine the generation systems driven by our engines with other, new technologies in order to meet future requirements. In that respect there are three main issues that we have to work on in the future in my opinion. Firstly, we have to make our present products more flexible, more efficient and, at the same time, cleaner in terms of emissions. Secondly, we have to embrace trends such as electrification, hybridization and storage and combine them with our conventional products. Thirdly, intelligent interconnection and intercommunication between generator and consumer are important. That is where
issues such as controls, remote functionality and big data come into the picture so that the information and data obtained can be used to make the systems even more efficient and flexible.
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