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Note: This material was originally published in German and was designed for lessons for 12-16 year old pupils in Germany. It may

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To this end, the material is available for download free-of-charge on the Federal Environment Ministry’s website at www.bmu.de/bildungsservice.


Published by: Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) Public Relations Division · 11055 Berlin · Germany E-mail: service@bmu.bund.de · Website: www.bmu.de/english Text: Peter Wiedemann, Sabine Preußer, Annette Jensen Editors: Dr. Korinna Schack, Achim Schreier, Referat ZG II 1 (BMU) Frank J. Richter, Zeitbild Verlag und Agentur für Kommunikation GmbH Academic Advisers: Prof. Dr. Gerhard de Haan, Free University of Berlin, Department of Educational Science and Psychology, Educational Future Science Section Dr.-Ing. Joachim Nitsch, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Technical Thermodynamics Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research Design: Zeitbild Verlag und Agentur für Kommunikation GmbH, Berlin Printing: Bonifatius GmbH, Paderborn Illustrations: Zeitbild / Oedekoven, Zitromat Date: June 2008 First Print: 2.000 copies RENEWABLE ENERGIES Contents







• The renewable energy superstars THE JOURNEY RENEWABLE

–  –  –


Viona is green with envy. “You’re starting your holidays five days early. And you’re missing three boring lessons with Dozy. You’re doing all right!” “Well, you’ll soon be swimming in the sea, and I’ll probably have to spend most of my time looking at wind parks and things,” says Felix, trying to calm down his cousin. After all, he doesn’t need to tell her that he has a sinking feeling in his stomach when he thinks of the journey ahead.

Six weeks ago, his mother received a strange invitation at work.

“Dear Mrs. Sunwind, We have heard from well-informed circles that you are one of the leading engineers of your time for renewable energy systems. That is why we are sending you an invitation. Come to the year 2030 and visit us. We would like to show you our modern energy supply systems. And by all means bring your son Felix too.

Yours sincerely, Dr. Brownsmith Future PLC” First Felix wondered how this Brownsmith man knew his name. And the next thing he won- © 2008 Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety dered was how it would work: travelling into the future. And even now, he was not much the wiser. They would be collected early in the morning, the company had told them.

“I wonder if you’ll get anything decent to eat,” muses Viona.

“Maybe they live on genetically modified vegetables, and they’ve got rid of all cows and hens.” “And they’ve brought the dinosaurs back to life,” suggests Aysche.

“Why don’t you bring us back an ultra-modern mobile phone?” asks Manuel.

“Yes, and be sure to find out what kind of music they like in the future. So we can form a group and be a real hit,” urges Aysche.

“You’ll be getting a bit past it by then, won’t you? Just think: by 2030 you’ll be nearly 40!” replies Felix. He’s suddenly in a hurry to get home and pack his things. What should he take with him? He suddenly realises that his coolest jeans are likely to be pretty unfashionable by 2030.


The story page 2/12


–  –  –

“Don’t you know? The day after tomorrow is the start of the international school band event,” the girl explains in a voice that makes it clear she thinks they’re completely out of touch. “We’re from the Energy Society and we’re doing the lighting. We’re running late because the construction group designed such a complicated stage and took much longer than planned,” she says. Suddenly a group of young people in glittering overalls rushes in. “Get moving.

We’ve collected so much sun that we can run the lighting tonight,” calls a boy with his hair dyed in squares.


The story page 3/12

–  –  –

Aysche and Manuel a nudge. “I thought the saying was: if you leave something long enough, it grows hair. It certainly doesn’t seem to be true in his case,” jokes Manuel.

“But if he’s here – and looks so old – what about us?” asks Viona and sneaks a look at her hands. All perfectly normal.

But still – somehow confusing...


The story page 4/12


“How on earth are we going to find Felix here?” asks Manuel, sounding a bit desperate.

“Let’s text him. I hope he replies soon,” answers Viona, her thumbs flying over the keypad.

Saranchimeg is glad to act as tourist guide. In any case she likes the idea of stealing the occasional glance at Manuel’s turned-up nose during the afternoon.

“I can get us a couple of Streetsailors. Then I’ll show you what the city looks like today, and you tell us what it used to look like,” she suggests.

© 2008 Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety “OK, that’s cool.” Manuel is excited. Although they only have a light tailwind, the four of them are zooming along the highway at quite a speed. “How is it we’re going so fast?” he asks into the microphone on the front of his helmet.

“The streetsailors are powered by an electric motor as well as a sail,” explains Saranchimeg.

“The motor gets its power from a fuel cell. And also they have stored up wind energy while they were parked for the last few days.” On the inside lane is a string of small cars with solar roofs.

In the outside lane some extra-low three-wheeled vehicles are engaged in a race involving risky overtaking manoeuvres.

“These things don’t produce any exhaust emissions– that’s why we say SunZero. Super-light electric-powered trikes.” There’s no holding Saranchimeg now: “The solar cells have so much power that they convert the water from the fuel cell back into hydrogen,” she explains. Viona’s head is swimming. Fuel cell – what’s that?

“There’s my riding stables,” shouts a delighted Aysche. “We really must stop there.” “Doesn’t look all that different,” she remarks, as they stroll past the horses in their stalls.

“Did you expect the horse of the future to have an armchair and TV?” jokes Viona.


The story page 5/12

–  –  –

away.” “Oh, I’m not sure if I think that’s such a good idea”, says Viona.

“I prefer a real meeting too,” admits Saranchimeg. “After all, there’s more to a fire than just heat and crackling noises.” They are just heading back to the riding stables when Viona’s mobile beeps.

“Pursuers on our heels. Only alone in toilet. Always on the move. In Gdansk, Poland, European Centre for Energy Research. Try to meet b4 we leave. PLEASE come! cu Felix”.


The story page 6/12

–  –  –

“There’s an express bus to Gdansk three times a day. We can leave in half an hour,” says Saranchimeg.

After a brief stop at a biogas filling station they head eastwards. For the last few kilometres from the bus station in Gdansk they take an electro-taxi.

At the entrance to the institute they are given a friendly welcome – almost as if they had been expected. Yes, the engineer and her son arrived yesterday, accompanied by two men. Dr. Technofreak can no doubt tell them more, says the porter.

A secretary collects them and guides them through a labyrinth of corridors until they are standing on the roof of the huge building.

“Glad to meet you. My name’s Technofreak,” growls the grey-haired man. Aysche thinks he looks like Einstein. “Your young friend was here. Yesterday. Said you would probably be coming,” he mutters and tells them to follow him. Technofreak points to a jet parked at the end of the roof. “That’s one of the shuttles to our three international space stations. We use them to monitor our model projects,” he explains. Technofreak rushes off, and the others find it hard to keep up with him “And where are the others who arrived yesterday?” Aysche wants to know.

“In the other spacelab. Wait and see, we may dock there later,” is Technofreak’s curt reply;

and Aysche doesn’t like to ask any more.

The pilot looks out of the cockpit and waves as the group hurry up the gangway. “Weather conditions good – need to hurry,” explains Technofreak.

No sooner is the door closed and all safety belts are fastened, than the space shuttle catapults forward and takes off. Aysche looks around with interest. Further forwards there is a row of portholes, but from her seat she can’t see anything through them. Behind them there seems to be a kind of laboratory with lots of technical equipment; in a corner of it, there are two women and a man, also strapped in, wearing headsets with microphones.

“Can get up now. Safely in orbit.” Technofreak tells his guests to take a look out of the © 2008 Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety window.

“Wow,” exclaims Manuel, as they fly over the North Atlantic. There are only a few clouds in sight – otherwise they have a clear view of Iceland.

“First of all, I want to draw your attention to the Vatnajökull power station,” says Technofreak, starting his presentation and pressing a button. An eight-sided pillar with viewers on each side rises from the floor. “A telescope with 10,000 times magnification,” announces Technofreak and tells his guests to do their own focusing. “And what can you see?” he asks triumphantly. Viona is the first to notice the numerous little clouds of steam and smoke at the edge of a rocky plateau, and the pipes running from them to several very large low buildings. “This is the power supply for almost all of Iceland.” In the meantime the Arctic is looming up on the horizon.

“Come with me into our visualisation laboratory,” says Technofreak. He stands beside one of the women that Aysche saw soon after takeoff, who is now staring at a monitor with great concentration. When Aysche goes and stands beside her, she finds that the monitor provides a three-dimensional picture – just like looking into an aquarium. What they can see looks like a kind of conveyor belt.

JOURNEY INTO THE FUTURE The story page 7/12

“That’s the Gulf Stream. What fantastic power, absolutely titanic!” enthuses Technofreak.

“Just imagine, every second it’s moving 150 million bathfuls of water – and doing it so fast that a normal person on foot couldn’t keep up. Look: the motor is over here.” Technofreak points to the place where the conveyor belt bends downwards. “Here in the North the water from the Gulf Stream is heavier than the local water.” “Why’s that?” “It’s carrying more salt than usual for this part of the world. And when it gets as cold as the water around it, it sinks. Heat rises, cold sinks – surely you remember learning that at school?” he says in a slightly reproachful voice.

But then Technofreak’s eyes light up again. “And right here we have placed a gigantic floating power station. Its massive underwater propellers are driven by the water and generate electricity. Isn’t that gargantuan?!” He is almost hoarse with excitement, and the five young friends can’t help but grin.

“And where is the other space station with the rest of our delegation?” inquires Viona. “Oh, of course. You’re right. Almost forgot. Let’s beam them.” He sits down at a computer and gives the command: “Locate ISF 1.” “ISF 1 not in beam range. On other side of Earth, just before Gdansk,” announces a metallicsounding voice.

“Missed them. Thought I would catch them,” mutters Technofreak, more to himself than his guests.

“Oh well, before we fly back, let me demonstrate our latest project.” Technofreak, who has already rushed to the other side of the laboratory, is gazing into a device that looks a bit like a microscope. “Oh, we’re very lucky – it’s really stormy in the Pacific.” One after the other, he lets them look into the device.

“Looks a bit like a huge swarm of prickly snakes,” comments Manuel, trying to express what he sees in words.

“Yes, it’s a combined wind-and-wave power station. A huge field of wind energy systems, with flexible floating snakes attached to them. They produce power as the waves go up and down. That way we can use wind and waves at the same time! What a waste to have all that lovely energy and not use it!” Technofreak becomes more and more enthusiastic. “We want to capture it and use it,” he murmurs, and Aysche can’t help wondering whether he is perhaps not quite sober.

But then Technofreak comes back down to earth. “Unfortunately, I’m sorry to say, it isn’t all that easy. We suffered a major setback last week. Our giant floating power station was damaged by a massive storm. Now we have to © 2008 Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety persuade the governments to invest a few hundred million in repairing it.” “Does that make sense: so much money for a power station that can be damaged so easily? Isn’t the money needed more urgently somewhere else?” asks Aysche seriously.

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