Episode #020 - Dr. Volker Quaschning
Episode #020 with Torsten Brammer & Volker Quaschning:
In this episode, Dr. Torsten Brammer talks to Dr. Volker Quaschning, a professor of renewable energy systems at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin. Moreover, Volker is a co-founder of Scientists for Future, the author of multiple books, and a successful podcaster and YouTuber for renewable energy topics.
So this talk is about the dedication to make information about renewable energy and climate change transparent and assessable for all people, also beyond lecture halls. Learn more about the big challenges we are facing, why it seems so hard for human mankind to adopt a sustainable lifestyle, and how grassroots organizations work.
(7:53-11:26) People have a lot of questions when it comes to climate change and what they can do about it. Volker Quaschning, one of Germanys most famous youtuber and podcaster on renewable topics, answers them publicly on his channels. In his talk with Torsten Brammer, the professor for renewable energy systems at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences HTW Berlin, explains what forced him to step out of the lecture hall and into the public.
(18:10-19:37) Scientists for Future #S4F supports the global climate movement by providing facts and materials based on reliable and accepted scientific data to e.g. decision makers and the general public. In this episode Torsten Brammer talks to its co-founder Volker Quaschning, who is a professor for renewable energy systems at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences HTW Berlin and a very well-known German YouTuber. Gain insights about how a grassroots organization works, how decisions are being made and how S4F is related to Fridays for Future #F4F.
(27:20-32:15) The challenges we are facing in terms of climate change are pretty obvious, but still people don’t seem to understand that they are part of the solution and that they have to change their personal behaviour to protect the future of our children and grandchildren. In this talk Volker Quaschning, professor for renewable energy systems at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences HTW Berlin and co-founder of Scientists for Future answers a big question: “Why is it so hard for human mankind to switch to a sustainable lifestyle?”
(32:19-36:07) Lithium-ion batteries are helping to pave the way toward a renewable energy future. How could they be complemented with further storage technologies? Volker Quaschning, professor for renewable energy systems at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences HTW Berlin and co-founder of Scientists for Future #C4F, is an expert for the storage of renewable energy. Listen to his prospects.
[00:00:03.810] - Torsten
Okay. Hello, everybody, and welcome to a new episode of The Solar Journey. My guest today is Volker Quaschning. Welcome to the show, Volker.
[00:00:15.570] - Volker
Yeah, nice to be here.
[00:00:18.330] - Torsten
Yeah. So Volker is a professor for renewable energy systems at the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin in Germany. And as a professor, he's dedicated to train young people to become skilled professionals in the renewable space. He's also author of several books, all on climate change, renewables and ecology to the broader public, at least in Germany. He's well known as a YouTuber and host of his own podcast, which he runs together with his wife. Also, he was linked in voice for German speaking countries in 2020. The podcast he's running is called Einiguta Fergus, which means a good question, of course. Again, it's all about stopping the climate change. And as you can pick from the title, it is held in German. He's got almost 64,000 subscribers. So everybody German. Everybody German is super easy to learn. And you now have one more reason to finally get started. As a nice side effect, your next trip to the October Fest in Munich will be so much more fun. Okay, Jeffer. He's also a co founder of Scientists for Future. Volker studied in Calgaryu, Germany, from 1989 until 1993, which is, by the way, exactly the time when I was at the very same university.
[00:01:51.090] - Torsten
But Volker studied electrical engineering, so he's a trained electrical engineer. And I studied physics, so we never met, unfortunately. I was studying physics, and if I wasn't studying physics, I was training for my next triathlon and obviously poker. You weren't training for triathlon because we also never met at the Triathlon Club. So my first question, were you in any kind of sports back then or any other side activities that kept you busy during your degree? Pardon?
[00:02:27.600] - Volker
Again? Could you give the question again?
[00:02:32.520] - Torsten
Sure. I just mentioned that if I wasn't studying physics, I was training for my next triathlon. We never met. And obviously maybe we met, we said.
[00:02:47.860] - Volker
Because we have the same professors for mathematics.
[00:02:54.270] - Torsten
That's right. But it was a big crowd, right.
[00:02:57.990] - Volker
So I think I have more than 800 people sitting in the room. So difficult to see.
[00:03:07.650] - Torsten
So electrical engineering back then, was that your obvious choice, was there or did you have any alternative? Was it hard for you to decide on which which course you want to take?
[00:03:17.140] - Volker
So I was very interested in technical process, so and during that time today, we have a lot of studies you can do. You can study renewable energies, you can study specialist health technology or something like else. During that time, it was only possible to study mathematics, physics, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering. That was it. And so it was a gut decision. So I said, okay, it sounds for me, during that time, if you are 18, you may have to do this decision. And then I decided, okay, it sounds the most interesting of these choices. And then I decided to make electrical engineering.
[00:04:01.320] - Torsten
Sure. Did you ever regret it? Was it hard?
[00:04:04.790] - Volker
No, it was very interesting because we know that we need electricity for the energy transition. This is the most important source of energy, electricity. And so I think it is a good decision to go there because most of all of our energy we will cover in future will be electrical energy. So mechanical or chemical energy will not play. So an important role. And I think so electrical energy would be a very good choice.
[00:04:40.450] - Torsten
And when did you interest in yeah, sustainability, ecology, climate change, etc. Surface? Was there was there any specific trigger? Was it before or after you went to university?
[00:04:53.510] - Volker
Yeah, I grew up in the 1980s and during that time we we had some big economic crisis as well. So, for example, the the Channel bill accident on the nuclear power station in Ukraine, that was in the 80s. We have the acid rain and the forests that they had some big problems. And during that time, economic proposals, they were a big issue. And during that time I was interested in ecological points. And then I got a report from the German Bundestag. So they had had on Cat commission, so we should stay at atmosphere in German for the protection of the Earth's atmosphere. And it was a report in the things we know today about climate change was written in these reports so that we have problems with the drinking water, with starvation, that we will destroy the life space of billions of people if you do not stop climate change. And as I read the report, I said we have to do anything against this because it's the biggest problem of the mankind within the last decades or centuries or millenniums. And I have studied electrical engineering and I look what are the solutions I can provide.
[00:06:31.450] - Volker
And then it was totally clear. The biggest problem is burning fossil fuels. So oil, gas and coal. And so we need other ways to use our energy. And in the 80s it was totally clear we have to go to 100% renewable power, to solar, to wind power. During that time it was very expensive. But say, okay, there's no reason why it should not become a competitive technology. And then I decided to get that go that way because it was totally logical and totally clear that's the only way to stop climate change.
[00:07:10.130] - Torsten
Cool. So during your degree, you already have chosen subjects on clean energy. So I remember there was a professor at the electrical engineering department, I think he was called Schmidt, who was into electrical renewable energy systems.
[00:07:30.970] - Volker
Yeah, he also supervised my diploma thesis during that time. Yes.
[00:07:34.880] - Torsten
All right. Okay. Yeah, cool. Yeah, I took an exam with him together with Professor Wilson. He was in the physics department.
[00:07:44.230] - Volker
Yeah, that were the first lectures for renewable powers. If you go in the mid of the 80s that they have no option to go to university and to learn anything for for protection of the climate or for renewable power. It started in the 1990s and since that time I'm working in the field.
[00:08:10.470] - Torsten
So you might not have only met in the lecture hall for mathematics, but also in Professor Wolfe's lecture hall.
[00:08:18.450] - Volker
[00:08:22.010] - Torsten
Cool that we finally meet 30 years later. So you became a professor for renewable energy systems. That's already a job that keeps you busy, but now you're also maybe the most famous German speaking renewable energy YouTuber and podcast. Podcaster. When did you feel you can and also you should do more than teaching renewables at university? When was the point where you said, hey, I need to go public with the message, right?
[00:08:54.550] - Volker
Yeah, I decided to go to the renewable energy field to save our planet. So this was my decision. And of course the scientific issues are very important for that, to make the technology better, to make it cheaper. And I went to scientific ways or I made my doctorate in using solar power. And I tried to go back to university to become a professor. And in the 1990s I started to write also a specialist book. But then I've seen that a lot of people are asking some questions, so they want to understand what to do, how these technologies of renewable power work. And there was a lack of information. So there were not so good books, there were no information in internet that's public available. And during that time I say, okay, there's a lack of information and we have to do something to bridge the gap. And the first thing I did is to write a popular book, renewable Power and Climate Change. It's also translated into English. But I've seen that the internet is very interesting because it's a very easy way for the people to get access to information. And then first thing I started to write information.
[00:10:19.230] - Volker
So I have a website as well where I published some common information on renewable power and some statistics and so on, that the people can inform their self to have clear facts and not some alternative facts on these technologies. Because of course, a lot of companies or politicians who do not like to make energy transitions, they put alternative facts into the publicity. I think it's a role of scientific people to make clear and write information based on facts. And that's what I wanted to do. And I started with information written in Internet. And then we had a small project in our university. There was small funding for producing some teaching videos five minutes long. And then we did it, we made some, I think five or six videos. And then the project ended. It was over at the same time, no funding anymore. And then we had the videos. But what should I do with these videos? I can show my students. Of course they're interesting, but they can see me live. No point that makes the world better. And then I decided, okay, I have now these videos. Then I put them into the publicity.
[00:11:46.720] - Volker
I started a YouTube channel and the interest was very good and this was for me motivation to make more of these videos. And since that time I'm a YouTuber.
[00:12:00.750] - Torsten
What does it feel like when you suddenly became, let's say, a public figure to have your face out there? Do people recognize you? Do you people come up to you and talk to you or sometimes once.
[00:12:14.050] - Volker
A year, for example? But I'm not so popular that all of the people on the street, they know me. So that's no big problem.
[00:12:24.390] - Torsten
What about the ones who disagree with you? There's positive feedback and there's particularly on that subject, climate change. There's also people who deny the aspect. And of course a lot of people.
[00:12:41.340] - Volker
Do not want to do climate change because they have to change their life. And it's much easier to say we have no climate problem, there is no climate change. It's a ridiculous idea to make energy based only on renewable power. So how can you do this? And we have a lot of people who are thinking in this way. They are not going to you personally and say it into your face. These people are going to the social media. They are creating an account with Peter one, six, five, something like that. And then they are doing hate speech there. If you look at the social media on the comments, you are on YouTube on the comments. The first point, I've blocked more than 500 or 800 people on YouTube because there was a lot of hate speech and it was only hate speech. So they disargued and say, okay, I do not think what you say is right. I have other arguments. That was not the way the people are talking. They say you are a fuel, you are telling silly things, you are a Nazi. And so and that's the only thing you can to work with that is to block these people because they are not interested in the discussion and to have the better argument.
[00:14:15.790] - Volker
So they only want to show that you are a fuel, that you are telling silly things because they do not want to change their life and their mind. And that's the problem. And this is a big problem. And if you are looking, for example, to Twitter at the moment, what Elon Musk is doing there, so the problem of fake news and of hate speech becomes even more and more a big problem. And our society have to decide how to work on that. But it's not only a problem of me, it's a problem of all people who are working here in the public field.
[00:14:51.670] - Torsten
So your wife is also a co host of your common podcast. How did that evolve?
[00:14:59.110] - Volker
We started our podcast during the Corona time and we were at home, we had nothing to do and then we decided, yeah, we have to do what was the idea of my wife? They say, let's do something together. And of course we had a lot of questions because people knows me and us, and they wrote emails and they didn't reach me. Then they wrote an email to my wife and they say I have a lot of emails with questions, we cannot answer them. So let's make a podcast where we can answer the most important questions. And that's why our podcast is named. That's a good question because the idea was to answer the questions that people have in the field of use of energy, of renewable power, of, of climate change. And until now we did, I think, 32 of 32 podcasts and it was way good. And a lot of people heard this podcast.
[00:16:01.770] - Torsten
Yeah, there's lots of, lots of positive comments on your YouTube channel. Should make you feel super happy. The production of your videos looks super professional. I get a feel for that because I'm in the same business, same hobby. How do you do that? Do you do that all by yourself?
[00:16:26.210] - Volker
As I started, I did it on my own. In the first year, my daughter helped me a little bit and since one year I have a little bit of funding from the Protect the Planet Society. They give me some funding so I can pay professional director for helping me to produce these videos.
[00:16:49.850] - Torsten
Excellent, wonderful. I'm sure it's a lot of work still, right? You feel the purpose in your work, but still what keeps you going doing podcasts and videos and writing blogs, you are present on events and also you are a professor. What's your personal source of energy to keep you going so that you don't run out of energy?
[00:17:17.600] - Volker
If you have understood that the climate protection is threatening the future of our children, of our grandchildren, you have to do anything against that. And at the end of my life, I would want to look into the mirror and I want to say, okay, you did everything you can do for that. And that's my point. That's my inspiration I have because the problem is so big. And if you're looking on the scientific reports, if you're looking on the reports, for example, the IPCC Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change writes every three, four, four years. And if you read these reports and if you see what is coming on the mankind, what will be the future if we do not stop that? I think it's everything. You have to do what I can do, I want to do it. And this is the way I think I have the most or the biggest impact to make videos or to go to the public. And this is because I decided to do that. Of course, after my job as a professor, I have to do that in parallel, but it works. But of course it takes a lot of time, so it's not possible within 40 hours weeks.
[00:18:42.350] - Torsten
You're also one of the co founders of Scientists for Future. What's your role there and how does this organization work? Also, how does Friday for future work? And what's the interaction between those for Fridays groups?
[00:18:59.160] - Volker
Yeah, these are grassroots organizations. The idea of a grassroots organization, everybody who's interested can come and work with the organization and we have no big funding. That's the other problem. So there are no professional people who are working the whole day on the ideas. So there are some ideas, for example, to make some papers or for example, Public Climate School was also an idea that to make some lectures in the internet that the people can look at and to inform the people. These are the projects that are running at the moment. So if the Friday is for Future, if they have ideas and if they need some scientific support, we also give it to them and yeah, it goes on. But it's a grassroots organization and it depends on the people who are there, who bring them in on their own, how many times they have, what will happen and what can do. Nobody can say what happens within the next twelve months? We will see.
[00:20:12.890] - Torsten
How do you take decisions? There's many, many ideas and in general you're looking in the same direction, but then you need to decide hey, we do this event or this event, how do you take decisions? You just take a vote and of the people who join the event, where you take of course we have a.
[00:20:36.530] - Volker
People who put a lot of time inside, they make some decisions. But if there are people who are interesting to make paper or who are interesting to make a new information forward, of course nobody will stop them. It depends because it's a grassroots organization and depends on the people. If there's nobody, we can make some decision, let's make it that way. But if nobody is there, who has time to make it, it won't happen, it won't happen. And so the way decisions are made is if there are people who are interesting to make it, then they do it.
[00:21:23.720] - Torsten
Okay, but do you have something like a general constitution which says you're not going to do this or that? Or is there a kind of moral compass, is there anything written down? But at least by now, I mean, I'm sure in the beginning it's pretty informal, but as the organization grows and you don't want to get hijacked also by other people who kind of protects the for a company, you would say who protects the brand, who protects the initial purpose of the grassroots organization? Or is that not necessary at the moment?
[00:22:04.100] - Volker
I think it's not really necessary. Of course we have organization teams, but it's more or less for organization. But for example, looking to Friday for Future. So for example, Louisa Noibawa is going to a talk show that didn't talk to all of the people working in the Friday for Future world. What she should say, of course, she says she thinks it's okay. It's the same with me or with other people because I think it's totally clear. Because if you're looking on the Climate scientific reports, it's totally clear what we have to do. So the guidelines for climate protection are totally clear. And I think it's not really necessary to say what you can do or what you can say. The people who are working in the scientific fields, they know what to say and I think it works.
[00:23:10.210] - Torsten
Phenomenal cool. When you work in, let's say, Hurricane Company and compare that with such a grassroots organization, it's interesting that these two very different types of structures both work and even that a grassroot organization works so well, right? Because the impact the X for Future teams have is phenomenal. Really cool. You have so many work streams. You're a professor, a scientist, a podcast, a speaker, an author, you're a scientist for Future. What's your management trick to handle all these different work streams or you don't.
[00:23:53.010] - Volker
Of course it's not possible. You need time for that. Of course you have not 35 hours, weeks or something like that, but you must be organized very well. There are some overlap over the subjects, also the same subjects. So what I tell my students is the same subject. What I'm telling in the video and the podcast is only another way of transportation information and that makes it easier. So everything I have to say, I have a mind, so I only have to think how to transport the information. So how can I tell my studio students that they understand that? How can I tell it the people who are looking at YouTube, it's a different community and it's only to switch how to transport the information. That's a different point. But the basics, the knowledge I need for that, it's the same for all of these point of views.
[00:24:57.350] - Torsten
Still, let me allow me to dig deeper. Do you just have long to do lists? Or let's say, how do you organize your ideas your to do for these different work streams in your head? Don't forget.
[00:25:16.760] - Volker
Yes, of course I have a lot of ideas and it depends on the time I have for that. So I have ideas for videos. For example, by my last big video on YouTube, it was on wind power. We took a lot of time for that. I think we need more or less one week to produce the video because we have to drive to the wind power stations. And then it was no wind. Then the wind power station didn't move. They have to come again and so on. And it takes a lot of time and it's only possible to do one video per year in that point of view. We have the small videos that are easier to make and can do much faster. And then it depends how much time you have. A lot of ideas. So if the week have 300 hours we will produce much more and much more ideas. But of course I have the job as a professor so I have to do my job. That's important. And then I have some hours per week I can spend in these activities and then I have to decide, okay, what subject is interesting and how can I make this in the most efficient way or how can transport this in the most efficient way.
[00:26:39.510] - Torsten
Excellent. Climate crisis is only one of the nine big issues we face. The authors of the others are biosphere integrity, freshwater change, zone depletion of the stratosphere and ocean acidification, which is pretty scary. I read something about it the other day. Then there's biochemical flows and then novel entities like the chemicals and deforestation and aerosol loading of the atmosphere. So it's pretty severe. And I just saw in a graph the other day where climate change is not even the worst of all these threats. So when you look at that, that it's pretty mind boggling scary and you do get desperate about it at the same time. Why do you think but mankind doesn't really change or changes at least very slowly when you look at on a global scale, right? There's always pockets where people are super pro and CO2 footprint is minimized even in the, let's say civilized, heavily industrialized world. But on a global scale, why do you think it's so hard for mankind to switch to a sustainable lifestyle even though we know it all is it just not in our genes to run on little energy? We crave for energy consumptions, we eat too much, we spend, we burn too much energy.
[00:28:12.470] - Torsten
We love to be super in a super comfortable seat as a species. Do we really need to face war or death before we change direction? To me it seems we cannot do that just by looking at the rational facts. I mean now with the Ukrainian war, it seems there's another push we might get to the next level which is required to switch to renewables because we see other positive effects of renewable energy. Do we have finally reached kind of the tipping point to switch to renewables really fast and with all consequences? That's a long but.
[00:29:03.590] - Volker
Our society is very difficult because economic growth is one of the most important points we are focusing on. If the economic growth is less than 2%, the policy gets problem. The economic growth is not big enough for our society. And the question is is economic growth growth the most important thing we have on earth? Of course not. So the most important thing is that the people are satisfied that the people have a happy life. That's more important than economic growth. And money is not the only thing in life. So of course money makes some points in the life easier. But we have to focus on these other things. What uses life if the forest is dead, for example? So with all money you have, you cannot bring life again to a desert or it's very easy. It's so expensive that we cannot afford that. And for that we have to change our ideas and we have to change what we have learned within the last decades. And that's I think way important. But it's of course difficult because if you have learned for 30, 40, 50 years that economic growth is the most important thing, everybody has to work on that.
[00:30:33.460] - Volker
And it's not easier to say, okay, we have to change our lifestyle and maybe we will have a better world if you're not looking on money. But we do not know. So the people are afraid oh, if you're not looking on economic growth, maybe our life will be worse, not as good as anymore could be. But if you're looking what we are destroying with the way we are living, with the focus only on the economy, then we will see that in one or two decades all money we will have will not be able to solve the problems. And the people only start to act if they see the problems. We have talked about climate change since the 1970s. It was totally clear that we have problems with with climate change. But we needed the the high summer is the the summer with the high temperatures, with the droughts here in in Europe, with the lack of drinking water that the people understand, okay? It's a problem that affects me personally. It's not only written in a report, it's real. And the people should be that they must see the problem, otherwise they are not able to act.
[00:32:00.820] - Volker
And we have now another point. You talked about the Ukraine war. It's a terrific war in Europe. We couldn't imagine that will happen again, but it happens. And this terrible war has also effect on the economy and on the prices for energy. So we have now very high prices for electricity or for gas, for natural gas in Germany. And these prices, of course, makes it easier to make the energy transition because now solar power or wind power is the cheapest energy. And we hope that this will speed up the energy transition in the way we need for climate protection.
[00:32:50.350] - Torsten
But hopefully we are now finally on the right path. Let's move to more, let's say, technical and economic aspects. You are also an expert for storage of renewable energy. You developed your own report on the quality of home storage systems. What do you think will be the additional storage technology next to the lithium ion route? Yes.
[00:33:21.770] - Volker
There's not only one storage solution we will have and it will solve our problems because we know that the technologies we have to use in the future. This are solar power and wind power. And both technologies are fluctuating technologies. So sometimes we have energy, sometimes not. It's true, we know this. A lot of people claim that it's not possible to make renewable energy supply that works with these technologies. A lot of studies say it works. But of course we need storage technologies. And there's no only one storage technology. So the battery. Of course we will need some batteries. They put in single homes or at utilities. But also, for example, car batteries are very interesting. At the moment we have only less than 1 million battery cars in Germany. But imagine if we have ten or 20 million battery cars. So the battery capacity then is so high that the car batteries can run our electricity system a whole night long. And we know in future when we need the cars, so there's a link from the car to our schedule and the car knows, okay, tomorrow I have to run 100 km. So then of course, half of the battery we can use for the energy system and you can earn some money with that.
[00:34:52.220] - Volker
And for that I think it's a very interesting point because with the car batteries, in ten years we can cover the storage demand for several hours. Of course we need some additional storage technologies. For example, we know that we use solar power and wind power also for heating purposes. Then it's of course a good idea to use heat storage, because heat storage is cheaper than electricity storage. And if we have excess electricity from solar and wind power, we heat up heating storage system. For example, in Berlin we have a very new heat storage, that's very big one, more than 40 meters high, hot water. We can store here the heat demand for 100,000 of people for several hours. And if you have excess electricity from solar and wind power, we heat up the heat storage. And if there's a lack of electricity, we cover the heat demand from the heat storage. So it's a second point. And the third point would be a gas storage we have in Germany, where we are looking on the gas storage systems we have here in Germany, we have to fill them with natural gas to get to become over the winter.
[00:36:06.990] - Volker
And we know that in 1015 years we are not allowed to use natural gas anymore. So these gas storage systems, they are free. And then of course, we can use excess electricity from solar and wind power and to produce green hydrogen from that. And then we can store the hydrogen in the existing gas storage systems. And if there's a lack of electricity, we can use the hydrogen, produce electricity, and then we have a safe and reliable energy supply.
[00:36:40.710] - Torsten
Excellent, thanks. There's lots of discussion about the lithium batteries, about the sustainability of that technology. You own a Tesla yourself, at least. I saw you driving. One in one of your videos. Why did you go for a very powered part versus a fuel cell car which runs on hydrogen? Will you maybe change to a fuel cell car in the future, or do.
[00:37:10.950] - Volker
You think no, fuel cell car is not a good idea. Tesla, as well as also a problem. Now, if you're looking on the way Elon Musk develops climate change, it's a marketing gag for him. But he does not really think that it's possible that this problem that we have to solve. Maybe other car companies are better than Tesla, but we know that the battery car is the most efficient way for covering. If you want to have a car, for example, you have to talk about cars in the first step. A car is not very efficient way for the transportation. It's better to use public transportation systems or bicycles or something like that. But of course we need some cars. In ten or 20 years we won't have a world without cars. And if you want to have a car, then we know that if you're going to a fuel cell, you have to produce the hydrogen and the production of hydrogen. There are some efficiencies in the systems, and they are very low for the hydrogen production, and they have a lot of losses. And if you want to run a hydrogen car, you need more than double or triple of the electricity to run a butter battery car.
[00:38:40.110] - Volker
Of course you have to install these systems. So a fuel cell car is also an electric car. People don't know what I do not understand this. You have also the electric motor. You have also a battery inside a fuel cell car. It's only smaller than a conventional battery car. You have hydrogen storage, so the fuel cell car is more complicated. And running a fuel cell car needs more energy. We need more wind power station, more solar power stations. Or the fuel cell car is not a better option, it's even worse. So if you say car itself is a problem, you have to decide to sell your car and to use public transportation. That's the only option. And fuel cell car is not better than a battery car.
[00:39:30.750] - Torsten
Still, there's quite a hype about hydrogen. What's your take on that? You mentioned earlier hydrogen will be a source for seasonal storage. So to go from to take, we need iron hydrogen summer to winter. But to me it seems there's too much hype about hydrogen. And I wonder where that comes from. That's not the key question, because it's about building solar and wind farms, right? It's not necessarily about hydrogen. Right? And I have my thoughts on this, but I would like to understand what your thoughts are.
[00:40:07.120] - Volker
It's totally true. So if you look how to become carbon dioxide free, we know that there are some sectors where we need hydrogen. For example, it's not possible to produce steel without carbon dioxide. Emissions if you do not use green hydrogen. So it's not possible to produce some chemical products without hydrogen, if you want to make it carbon dioxide free. So if you're looking on the long term storage, I've talked before, we also need hydrogen. But if you're looking on the car, for example, so a car is a very inefficient efficient way if you're going to hydrogen to use energy also for heating purposes, for example, burning hydrogen in the heating system is a very silly way to use energy, because we have more efficient systems. It's electrical heat pump, so it's three or four times more efficient than a gas heating system. And we have to save energy. And then we have to use in the fields where we have alternatives, then we have to use the more efficient technologies. For example, in the heating purposes, the heat pump, if you're going to transportation sector, of course the battery car is better. And in these fields, hydrogen does not make sense anymore, because we need so much energy to produce the hydrogen.
[00:41:26.310] - Volker
If you're looking to other fields, for example the steel production, or for example, if you're going to the flight to the airplanes, to running an airplane climate compatible within the next two or three decades will be only possible with hydrogen in that field, we need it. But we have to keep in mind that also will bring the costs to a higher level. So running airplane with green hydrogen will double the cost for the flight. And for me it's no problem. I think flights are too cheap, we see not in the cost the problems we produce here using an airplane. So the double of the cost will make the way we use the airplanes in a better way, because we think more about if it does make sense to make a flight. But of course, hydrogen makes it expensive and hydrogen needs a lot of energy to produce. And due to that, we have to focus hydrogen on these sectors where we have no alternative.
[00:42:37.530] - Torsten
So talking about flying and hydrogen, will it be hydrogen or some other e fuel like even kerosene produced from hydrogen, but also by solar power.
[00:42:53.040] - Volker
So if you're looking at a very long time, or 50 or 100 years, of course the airplanes will be totally different from these we are using today. So maybe then we will have some electric airplanes or hydrogen. But at the moment we have airplanes, they are running with kerosene. And if Air Company is buying a new airplane, it will fly 30 or 40 years through the air. And for the existing airplanes, the only option is to make e fuels. So to produce green hydrogen. And from this green hydrogen we can produce green carousel. But it's expensive, it will be very expensive. So the cost for using an airplane will double. And for that it's very important that the policy, the policy says, okay, for example, in Europe, it's not allowed to run airplane with conventional Caroline with fossil fuels anymore within the next five or ten years, because this will destroy all our efforts here we are doing for climate protection.
[00:44:04.310] - Torsten
Yeah. So will you be able to fly from Berlin to, say, Vancouver without flight shame during your life?
[00:44:15.820] - Volker
I stopped using the airplane three or four years ago, so I'm not flying anymore. I think this is a very good decision because every time I use the airplane also for business flights yeah, I have a fight in my own. So I think you're going to conference making a lecture there and for that lecture you spend five, six, eight tons of carbon dioxide. So it's ridiculous how high is the carbon dioxide emission only for one flight. So you're doing in your life, you're thinking how to separate waste, how to stop eating a little bit lower meat and then you're using an airplane and only in half an hour you have destroyed all your carbon dioxide violence you have. And for me, it's no option anymore. You can do it with video communication, you can make a phone call. I have not to go anymore. It's my decision. It's not able for everybody. But since we have climate neutral until we have climate neutral flights, I will not use the airplane anymore. And I'm afraid that will be need 30, 40 years that the air companies will stop or slow down the development for clean carousel sign.
[00:45:46.020] - Volker
Because of course, if the flight will be more expensive, they can sell lower number of lights and this will be a big fight in our community. And for that I think we have to stay on ground.
[00:46:02.330] - Torsten
So 30 to 40 years it will take that means that both of us.
[00:46:06.290] - Volker
Will never I'm afraid it will be possible in ten. But if you're looking to our companies and our policy, I'm not convinced that they use or will bring the technologies in ten years to all of the airplanes, even if you're looking on the costs.
[00:46:22.920] - Torsten
Yeah, yeah, thanks for that. So my final question, Volker, when you look at the total picture, renewables, etc. What do you think is required to take solar, the renewable, the climate change actions, wind power, application, storage, et cetera? What is required to take it to the next level, to really roll out the technology faster, to change mindset faster?
[00:47:01.250] - Volker
I do not think that we need a next level, because if you're looking to solar power and to wind power and if you're looking to the prices as I started to work in the solar field in the 1990s, during that time we paid more than two euro for a kilowatt hour of solar electricity. Today we can do it for so the prices went down significantly. And solar power and wind power is the cheapest technology, except if there are high subsidies for fossil fuels. For example, what we are doing at the moment in germany, we have the high prices. And what is doing, what our policy is doing is now is giving way high subsidies for natural gas. So we spent more than €50 billion next year to make subsidies for the fossil fuel sector. And this is of course not the right way to speed up the system. The International Energy Agency, every year they count how much subsidies we have in the fossil fuel sector. And it's a ridiculous number. More than 5000 billion euros every year is going on subsidies on the fossil fuel sector. So we only have to stop these subsidies and then we will have an energy transition because solar wind power combination with storage make it a reliable energy supply and it's the cheapest way and also clean.
[00:48:39.150] - Volker
So we have to work to stop the subsidies for fossil fuel. And we did our homework. So the renewable power, we can make that better, we can even little bit more cheaper. But this is the cheapest technology right now. And so we have to use it and we have to make it easy to use it and we have to stop the subsidies and then it will be no problem to protect our planet.
[00:49:03.970] - Torsten
Wonderful closing line. Stop the subsidies. Volker, thanks a lot for joining Solar journey today. All the best for your future work. Thanks a lot.
[00:49:14.590] - Volker
Thank you for the invitation.