Energy is the ability to perform mechanical work, to emit heat or to radiate light.
Energy is central in our lives: Without heat energy, there is no warm home, no hot shower, no hot food. Our mobility also needs energy: when we walk or ride a bicycle, we convert chemical energy absorbed by our food into kinetic energy. When we move “by car”, chemical energy in the form of petrol or diesel is converted into kinetic energy. And industrial production is only possible because machines are supplied with e.g. electrical energy.
The availability of energy is central to our society and our economy. But the use of fossil energy releases carbon in the form of carbon dioxide CO2, which was bound millions of years ago when coal, oil and natural gas were formed. CO2 is the most important greenhouse gas and contributes to global warming along with other greenhouse gases. For example, the average temperature measured worldwide has risen by about 1 °C in the last hundred years.
In order to limit the globally observed temperature increase to 1.5 – 2.0 °C, emissions of greenhouse gases, especially CO2, must be drastically reduced. One possibility is to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy. However, the availability of renewable energy forms such as hydropower, wind energy, solar energy and bioenergy varies considerably. Although wind and sun are available almost everywhere, they are subject to the weather and its fluctuations, so that their exclusive use is only possible if energy can be stored in times of surplus, e.g. as demonstrated here in a pumped storage power plant, in a lithium-ion battery or as hydrogen. Energy is a central topic in the Environment and Energy BSc. course at Rhine- Waal University of Applied Sciences. For example, how does electricity generation from renewable energy or in a coal-fired power plant work? What possibilities are there for storing energy and using it effectively?
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