Taking its own know-how to the outside world: The DGMK’s GEO-Energy Systems Underground Technologies Division is looking confidently to the future at its spring conference in Celle.
Fully booked with over 620 participants! That was the success story with which DGMK Managing Director Dr Gesa Netzeband opened this year’s joint spring conference of the DGMK’s Geo-Energy Systems and Underground Technologies Division and the Austrian Society for Energy Sciences at the Congress Union Celle.
The deep underground, she opened her welcoming address, not only offers storage possibilities, but also heat and raw materials such as lithium, and thus offers enormous potential for a climate-friendly energy industry. “We are engineers, we are scientists, we are the experts in a technical industry. We can drill kilometres deep, make reliable reservoir forecasts, we have the know-how for monitoring and we stand for high HSE standards,” she said, getting the participants in the mood for two exciting days and expressing her conviction that “Celle is the meeting place for the know-how that will implement the energy transition!
Dr Jürgen Rückheim, Head of the Department of Geo-Energy Systems and Underground Technologies, then paid tribute to the numerous joint research projects that had been advanced in the past year and the promising further development of the working groups, such as geothermal energy, CCUS and energy storage.
It takes more and more effort, he said thoughtfully, to land research projects. This is due not only to greater reluctance on the part of long-standing investors and sponsors, but also to greater competition for funding. But uncertainties with regard to future regulatory requirements, such as the CO2 Storage Act, also played a role. Another problem is the lack of young scientists and engineers.
Jens Müller-Belau, Managing Director of Energy Transition at Deutsche Shell Holding, vividly demonstrated that there are no simple answers to many challenges. The image he used of a trilemma in which his company finds itself and which confronts all those involved with the question of how to balance what the customer can afford with what is important for energy security and the corresponding climate protection, clearly worked out that there will always be a certain instability in this field of tension.
K. Büker, chief chemist at Thyssen KruppIndustrial Solutions, reported on his company’s efforts to reduce its enormous CO2 emissions of 20 million tonnes, 3% of total German emissions. The storage of the greenhouse gas would help just as much as its return to production processes in the chemical industry. With regard to the use of hydrogen in steel production, he pointed out that a complete H2 solution would require a 2-gigawatt electrolysis plant. For this to be economically viable, the electricity would also have to be available almost free of charge.
A. Mette Cheese, Wintershall Dea Country Lead Carbon Management & Hydrogen for Denmark and Norway, focused in her presentation on the numerous external factors and the lack of regulatory framework conditions that are currently preventing many current projects from moving forward. The latter are necessary, for example, to connect CO2 emitters with storage fields.
Her presentation of three CO2 storage facilities that were once projected with great expectations, such as in Greifswwald 2009 Greifswwald 2009 Greifswwald (2009), Longanet, Scotland (2011) Longanet, Scotland (2011) and Lake Charles, United States (2015), clearly demonstrated this.
Entitled “Exploring the subsurface potential - make the energy transition happen”, the conference then offered a great programme that covered an enormous range of topics in 52 lectures and 24 poster sessions with four parallel sessions. It ranged from classical technologies to risk assessments and the reuse of infrastructures to the assessment and realisation of geothermal projects and the construction and operation of energy storage facilities. Broadly spread over their many aspects, the topics of hydrogen and CO2 capture and storage, which will certainly determine the coming years, were a central or at least marginal component of numerous lectures and discussions.
Thus, according to the unanimous opinion of most visitors, this programme comprehensively represented the diverse research landscape of the department and the numerous challenges on the way to a successful implementation of the energy transition. The tenor was that it showed how expertise in the use of the geological subsurface that has been built up over decades and a large number of current collaborative research projects can contribute to sustainable domestic security of supply and thus also be put at the service of improving public acceptance.
A number of long-time visitors to the event were almost entirely positive about the significantly higher proportion of very young conference visitors compared to previous annual meetings, which was not least due to the fact that the DGMK had also issued more tickets to students in order to integrate young scientists into its own ranks. Despite the lack of space for some of the lectures due to the fact that the Europa Hall could not be used this year because of construction work, the Congress Union in Celle once again provided the ideal setting for the event.
The highlight of the annual meeting was once again the evening event, which opened with a welcome address by Reinhard Oswald, Chairman of ÖGEW, and this year’s keynote speech by Alexander Godow, Chief Production Officer of Nordzucker AG.
In addition to a brief presentation of the company, the content of the highly interesting talk focused on Nordzucker’s many activities on the road to climate neutrality. The route is to be taken in two stages, the first of which (50% reduction of CO2 emissions from 2017) is to be achieved by 2030, followed by the complete reduction of CO2 emissions by 2050. To this end, the approximately 10,000 farmers, as shareholders of the joint-stock company, would invest one billion euros over the next 10 years in addition to the investments that would be necessary anyway.
The central lever of the transformation is to be the planned conversion of the primarily high-pressure steam-based production to biomethane, which is to be obtained in future by fermenting the cooked beet pulp that remains as a waste product. In addition, multiple use of the steam once produced by means of vapour recompression is intended to avoid previously unavoidable energy losses and simply to save up to 25% energy.
Finally, referring to the 90th anniversary of the DGMK, Managing Director Netzeband opened the evening buffet.