Issue 89, August 2017
bullet Cleantech
bullet LOHC: The Solution for a Global Hydrogen Infrastructure
bullet Green City Solutions' "CityTree"
bullet Start Up Energy Transition
bullet Interview with Prof. Dr. Kurt Rohrig, Deputy Director and Head of the Division for Energy Economy and Grid Operation, Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES)
Global energy demand is expected to rise dramatically as the world's population grows, economies flourish, and standards of living increase, enabling greater access to modern energy. Although 1.2 billion people globally still lack access to electricity, this number is predicted to decrease, especially in countries with emerging economies. The environmental ramifications of this evolving energy outlook are significant. Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are projected to increase 34 percent to 43 billion metric tons by 2040, according to the EIA's International Energy Outlook 2016. Unless leading nations make concerted efforts to curb their growing carbon footprints, global warming forecasts will continue to remain ominous.

Germany has long been a recognized leader in environmental protection and clean energy initiatives. In April 2017, Germany generated 85% of its power from renewable sources - a national record. Startups have recognized the increasing importance of the German cleantech sector, which has been enjoying steady growth in recent years.

The goal of Green City Solutions, an award-winning greentech company in Berlin, is to create living conditions that allow people in cities around the world to permanently have clean and cool air to breathe. They do this by linking the natural abilities of plants with cutting-edge Internet of Things technology in a unique way. Agrilution, a Munich-based food tech company, created a climate-controlled smart device that makes growing nutritious greens and herbs fast and efficient.

A team of experts from three leading Fraunhofer institutes developed the open software platform Open Gateway Energy MAnagement (OGEMA), which supports standardized building automation and energy management in order to manage renewables intelligently. The OGEMA platform can be applied in households, commercial environments, and industry. This month's GCRI interview partner, Prof. Dr. Kurt Rohrig, from Fraunhofer IWES provides insights on when Germany will be able to fully cover the energy demand with renewable energy and which technology offers the greatest potential to propel the renewable energy field forward.

Today's global energy system is massively dependent on crude oil. In 2018, the global demand is expected to reach a record of more than 100 million barrels per day. The Paris Agreement was ratified by 159 out of 197 nations, in order to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and decrease carbon emissions.

The only alternative to oil and gas as an energy carrier is hydrogen. It can be produced renewably by splitting water via electrolysis, making it abundantly available. Water is the only emission when hydrogen is used as fuel. The major problem with hydrogen is its highly volatile nature, which makes it difficult to store and transport. Conventional storage and transport technologies require extreme pressures or extremely low temperatures (-253°C) due to the low density of hydrogen. The global rollout of hydrogen technologies in industry and mobility and the growing hydrogen refueling station network require an easier solution for hydrogen logistics.

Hydrogenious Technologies developed the Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier (LOHC) technology for hydrogen storage. In the LOHC, hydrogen is stored chemically in a fluid, which can be transported and stored at ambient conditions in the existing fuel infrastructure without the need of extreme storage pressures or temperatures. Upon demand, hydrogen is released from the LOHC. The fluid is recovered and can be reused. For easy handling and transport, the LOHC liquids are hardly flammable, non-explosive and not classified as dangerous goods. Compared to today's high-pressure storage, LOHC offers a fivefold higher storage density and thereby an alternative for a large-scale hydrogen infrastructure.

Source & Image: Hydrogenious Technologies

Certain moss cultures have the ability to filter pollutants, such as particulate matter, out of the air by binding them to the leaf surface and then integrating them permanently into their own biomass. This makes moss cultures ideal air purifiers. But in cities, where air purification is a great challenge, mosses are barely able to survive due to their need for water and shade. The combination of shade-giving plants, a fully-automated supply of water and nutrients, and cutting-edge Internet-of-Things technology can solve this problem.  
The "CityTree" by the German startup Green City Solutions  combines specific plants that eat particulate matter (PM), nitrogen dioxide and ozone, which offset up to 240 tons of CO2 equivalents per year. With the environmental benefit of up to 275 normal urban trees, the compact and mobile CityTree improves the air measurably, cools it and protects the environment from noise. The plant filter requires 99% less space than the 275 trees would need. The CityTree contains sensors collecting environmental and climatic data, in order to regulate and control the unit and ensure that the plants survive. Through solar panels and rainwater retention systems, the unit requires only a few hours of maintenance per year. By using technologies like WiFi, NFC and digital screens, the CityTrees can also transmit digital and visual information. 
While future projections foresee 80% of the world's population living in urban areas, CityTree can help turn these cities into places with improved air quality and thus a better quality of life.

Source & Image: Green City Solutions    


Energy transition is a global challenge and innovation is a key factor for its success. This is why the German Energy Agency (dena), Germany's center of expertise for energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and intelligent energy systems, founded the Start Up Energy Transition (SET) initiative. The SET Award helps to identify the most promising startups worldwide that are working on solutions for current and future challenges. In addition, the Tech Festival showcases the top three global startups from different SET Award categories and brings together stakeholders from the public and private sector.

With over 540 applications from 66 countries for the award in its first year, dena was able to attain global outreach and identify patterns in startup ecosystems worldwide. The top applicants were invited to the Tech Festival in Berlin, where they had the opportunity to meet with international corporate partners and ambassadors, such as Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and Adnan Amin, Director of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). They were also able to meet investors, and representatives from accelerators and other startups.

As a result of the award, dena created the #GET100 list, based on the judges' rankings of the Top 100 applications, and distributed it to policymakers and key individuals in the industry to raise awareness of the important issues the startups are addressing.

Nearly all nations agree that fighting climate change is one of the core challenges of our time and there is political will to intensify the existing efforts in this field. With SET, dena shows how diverse the solutions provided by the market are and how much potential these ideas have in addressing these problems. This is why the award will be launched at COP23, the 23rd Conference of the Parties of UNFCCC, in November 2017. Dena and its CEO, Andreas Kuhlmann, are convinced that international cooperation and strong partnerships in the political sphere, and especially within the industry, are the only ways that will lead to a sustainable future.

Find more information at
Source & Image: Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena)
InnovationInnovation: agrilution's plantCube
At the forefront of the vertical farming revolution, agrilution has been working on innovating the way we grow food in cities - in the comfort of our home. 
Agrilution created plantCube, an innovative, pesticide-free, climate-controlled smart device that makes growing fresh, nutritious greens and herbs fast, simple, and efficient. Its hydroponics-based system produces leafy greens in abundance with just a single tank, making the system waste less water. The custom-designed OSRAM LED lights provide fine control to grow plants with the best possible flavor, nutrition, texture, and growth rates. The climate control inside of a plantCube allows for food to be grown year round. 
In agrilution's Munich workshop and laboratory, an expert team of designers, engineers, software developers, and plant scientists work on developing the plantCube system for growing food. Their system is designed in a way that even amateur gardeners will be able to successfully plant and harvest crops. A plantCube app assists by showing customers how their plants grow and when to harvest for optimal flavor and nutrition. 
Since Maximilian Loessl, agrilution's CEO, and Philipp Wagner, co-founder, came up with the idea and a wooden prototype of plantCube, agrilution has expanded its skilled international team. 
The first prototypes have already received great feedback in test kitchens and the latest model is ready to launch at the end of 2017.  
Source & Image: agrilution GmbH   

BionaticInterview with Prof. Dr. Kurt Rohrig, Deputy Director and Head of the Division for Energy Economy and Grid Operation, Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES)
With more than 25 years of experience, Prof. Dr. Kurt Rohrig is one of Germany's leading experts in renewable energy. He is the deputy director and head of the Division for Energy Economy and Grid Operation at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES). Prof. Dr. Rohrig is also an honorary professor for integrated energy systems at the University of Kassel, where he completed his PhD in electrical engineering and computer science in 2003. 
The focus of his scientific work is the prediction of wind and solar power for large supply areas that are managed in co-operation with large power transmission utilities. Prof. Dr. Rohrig was the scientific manager of the project "Renewable Model Region Harz" and received the German Award for Climate Protection for his involvement in the "Renewable Combi Plant" in 2009. As a result of his project work, he has proven that a smart combination of renewable energy sources could already cover 100% of the power demand in Germany today. 
In this interview with the GCRI, Prof. Dr. Rohrig points out why a combination of wind and solar power offer the greatest potential to propel the renewable energy field forward and how the energy transition will affect people's lifestyles. To read the full interview, click here.
Source & Image: Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES)