Volker Quaschning has been teaching as a professor on the Renewable Energy Systems study programme since 2004. He is also the head of the Solar Storage Systems research group.
Is solar energy worthwhile for Germany, given that the sun only shines here for about 2,000 hours a year?
It’s true that southern European countries have about 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, which is about a third more than here. But the potential of solar energy is still huge in Germany. By using less than one percent of the country’s surface area, we could cover well over a third of our total energy needs. And solar power has become very cheap in Germany. The first plants are currently being built and do not need any subsidies at all. In the interests of climate protection, it is vital that we ramp up the expansion of solar energy in Germany.
What are the solutions for storing solar energy?
When talking about storage, it’s important to distinguish between short-term and long-term storage, i.e. storage for just a few hours and storage that can last for many days. For long-term storage, we are focussing on power-to-gas. In this process, hydrogen and methane are produced from surplus solar electricity, which can then be stored in the existing gas network and converted back into electricity when required. Short-term storage uses solutions such as battery storage units that can be installed in people’s basements or utility rooms. These are the topics that the Solar Storage Systems research group is currently exploring at HTW Berlin.
Who or what is essential for you at HTW Berlin?
I always say that HTW Berlin is the best university in Germany. We have a great location and a fantastic working atmosphere. The Federal State of Berlin is renowned for being poor but sexy. In order to generate the necessary momentum under these conditions, a certain level of commitment is needed from everyone. It’s therefore not individual people who are essential, but rather the feeling of working together to achieve a common and important goal. This is very much the attitude on our Renewable Energy Systems study programme.
What do you enjoy most at HTW Berlin?
That’s hard to say when the week is only just beginning. Sometimes it’s holding a lecture and seeing how the students actively contribute and participate in discussions. Other times it’s when I see the fantastic results produced by my research group. TV interviews on energy transition topics are also a lot of fun. But sometimes I just like to sit in the sun and enjoy the amazing view of the Spree from the beach bar.
Where on campus do you get your best ideas?
HTW Berlin has one of the best canteens in Berlin. I often meet my research colleagues here to discuss research matters or other relevant social issues. I really enjoy these conversations and always come away with fresh ideas and perspectives.
Who would you like to have coffee or tea with?
Of all the famous figures, Greta Thunberg intrigues me the most. She managed to launch an incredibly important movement for our future with a very simple form of action. It showed us that we are all capable of achieving great things through what we do. However, since having a coffee with Greta would involve very long train journeys, I would probably prefer a cup of tea on a talk show where I could try to persuade key politicians to take the necessary action to protect the climate.
Photos: Alexander Rentsch
© HTW Berlin, Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
7 August 2019