The energy sector in NRW
North Rhine-Westphalia is Europe's most important energy region. The state is home to international power utilities, energy-intensive manufacturing companies, power plant producers, as well as a large number of developers, providers and users of energy technology and services. Some 120 institutes at more than 30 universities as well as about 20 non-university research organizations conduct energy-related teaching and research, with special emphasis on increasing energy efficiency and exploiting the potential of renewables. NRW is among the international front-runners with regard to the development, testing and commercialization of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
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Projects for a successful transition to clean energy
Energy efficiency is high up on the research agenda in North Rhine-Westphalia. For instance, the Helmholtz Institute for Ionics in Energy Storage in Münster is addressing a key issue: how to store electric power in large quantities over long periods within compact dimensions. The institute has decided to concentrate its efforts on electrolytes, the most important component of any battery. North Rhine-Westphalia is also conducting research into smart electric power utilization. For example, the utility company RWE is involved in various projects centering on smart grids, smart meters and integrated home automation.
Energy enterprises in NRW
A closet doubling as light source for a bedroom or wallpaper that glows over large areas, creating a warm atmosphere in a room completely devoid of light bulbs. Two ideas that might well become reality in a few years. Even now there are hardly any limitations placed on the creativity of furniture or interior designers.
These innovative lighting ideas have their source in organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). Just a few millimetres thin, they are capable of emitting soft, diffused lighting over entire surfaces. Scientists from Philips Technologie GmbH in Aachen have successfully applied domestic AC to light up these tiny wafer thin glass sheets. This also sounds the death knell for clunky adaptors.
Designers and manufacturers have been invited by Lumiblade Creative Lab in Aachen to test ideas based on OLED technology. In times to come, it is completely conceivable that an electrician might be called to change the wallpaper at home, with a high-tech foil tucked under his arm and a lighting concept in his head.