Business/economy

Article Dr. Klaus Dieterich Conserving resources, exciting customers Anyone wishing to successfully restructure the power supply network needs to start with “power consumer nodes.” Work to expand the power grid and build large power stations using renewable energy will then follow an efficiency paradigm.

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  • November 09, 2012
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press release

Oil and other important raw materials are finite. In the year 2500, historians will see that the age of oil was short-lasting. Even if we reduce our consumption by ten to 20 percent, this will not make any fundamental difference. Over the short term, then, we must use efficient consumption to conserve fossil-fuel resources, and in this way buy time to convert our power supply system to one based on renewable energy. And when it comes to our demand for raw materials, we have to opt for recycling processes.

Scenarios show that renewable energy will have a fast growing share in global power generation. This means that electricity will become more significant, since it is the main end-product of the conversion of renewable energy. In other words, electricity will become a primary source of energy. From an energy-technology perspective, the combination of renewable energy with electrical power consumers is especially efficient.

Efficiency does not mean “doing without”
Our power supply system will not be restructured overnight. To take the example of mobility, transportation accounts for one-third of global energy demand. Each year, the German transportation sector alone consumes 80 billion liters of fuel and emits 159 million metric tons of CO2. Between now and 2020, however, it will not be through electromobility that we will achieve the greatest CO2 reduction, but by improving the efficiency of conventional vehicles. Further optimizing the internal-combustion engine thus remains a vital objective.

At the same time, there will be extensive research into electromobility. The form battery technology will take in the future plays a key role here. The challenge is to create efficient products that do not involve “doing without.” Only products that excite customers, that they can afford, and that keep their value will be in great demand. At the same time, this is the only way we can protect the environment. In the case of electric cars, practical limitations mean they are still unattractive. The battery technology that is needed for such cars has not yet progressed far enough. In the case of e-bikes, the story is a different one. This is why the market for electromobility products will develop from the bottom up, from small to large vehicles. Accordingly, Bosch has begun producing drives for pedelecs, or e-bikes. This is a fast growing market. The German association of two-wheeler manufacturers expects 400,000 e-bikes to be sold in 2012, with sales reaching 600,000 a year over the medium term.

Power generation will go local
Our age is one of centralized power generation, with coal-fired and nuclear power stations. Distribution of the electricity they generate is also done in a centralized way, and is demand-driven only. But the transition to renewable forms of energy must not simply be a matter of replacing today's power stations with ones using renewable energy. Such a move would not make the most of the potential for efficiency at power consumer nodes such as buildings, since such nodes can both consume and generate power. For this reason, the energy system of the future must be both decentralized and smart. A centralized power grid will then have two tasks. First, it will make up for any shortfall between what the private interface can generate for itself and what it needs, and second, it will take up any surplus. From this point of view, the expansion of the power grid will follow an efficiency paradigm. Indeed, this efficiency may make some of the plans to expand the grid unnecessary. Any strategy to move to alternative forms of energy should therefore start from the potential for efficiency at power consumer nodes.

Buildings account for a colossal 38 percent of global resource consumption. Yet even today, a house that generates more power than it consumes is technically feasible as well as affordable. Such houses will be the standard for new developments in the future. Heavily insulated, and featuring an electric heat pump, photovoltaic array, controlled ventilation, and efficient, A++-class household appliances, a house with a total of 160 square meters floor space can produce an annual surplus of 1500 kilowatt hours of electricity. Such an “energy-plus” house can generate power for the occupants' own requirements, as well as to feed into the grid. And economical energy-storage devices can optimize occupants' power consumption even further, which is a further reason for stepping up research into battery technology.

Recycling processes instead of waste
The third main consumer of power after buildings and transportation is industry, with a share of 31 percent. In 2007, Bosch set itself the target of a 20 percent reduction in its CO2 emissions by 2020. Our building designs, manufacturing facilities, processes, and machinery are subjected to constant scrutiny. We see potential for a 25 percent reduction, and as much as 40 percent if manufacturing is regarded in its entirety. In the future, therefore, we will focus not only on part-systems, but also on using the potential arising from their interaction – for example, by using waste-heat from production to generate electricity.

We are also encouraging resource efficiency by recycling. In its spare-parts business, Bosch now has more than 30 product lines for which no new components have to be bought when they need repair. Instead, remanufactured parts are available. Compared with a new product, a remanufactured passenger-car starter means 56 percent less energy, a 53 percent reduction in CO2 emissions, and an 88 percent materials saving.

With more energy-saving innovations, we can conserve resources and protect the environment over the short term. Over the long term, renewable energy and recycling can take us into an age of clean electrical power.


Dr. Klaus Dieterich, President, Corporate Sector for Research and Advance Engineering, Robert Bosch GmbH

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. According to preliminary figures, its roughly 281,000 associates generated sales of 46.4 billion euros in 2013 (Note: due to a change in the legal rules governing consolidation, the 2013 figures can only be compared to a limited extent with the 2012 figures). Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Automotive Technology, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its more than 360 subsidiaries and regional companies in some 50 countries. If its sales and service partners are included, then Bosch is represented in roughly 150 countries. This worldwide development, manufacturing, and sales network is the foundation for further growth. In 2013, Bosch applied for some 5,000 patents worldwide. The Bosch Group’s products and services are designed to fascinate, and to improve the quality of life by providing solutions which are both innovative and beneficial. In this way, the company offers technology worldwide that is “Invented for life.”

The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.” The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant up-front investments in the safeguarding of its future. Ninety-two percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by the trust. The remaining shares are held by the Bosch family and by Robert Bosch GmbH.

Additional information is available online at www.bosch.com and www.bosch-press.com, http://twitter.com/BoschPresse.

Dieterich - November 09, 2012

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