The latest issue of research magazine Pictures of the Future, published by Siemens twice a year, addresses three key themes: the new global economy, ways of mastering complexity and the building blocks for increased efficiency.
The magazine analyses what globalisation means in different parts of world and looks at how we can achieve environmentally sound growth in the world of tomorrow.
The second focus describes how new technologies will make it possible to master increasingly complex systems. The challenges involved range from ways to control the power grid of the future to the development of planning systems for our continually expanding cities and technologies that make complex systems easier to operate.
The magazine also presents some innovative ideas on how energy efficiency can be improved. These methods include improved thermal management, the commercial exploitation of carbon dioxide and buildings that generate their own energy.
The earth’s population is growing, as is the demand for resources. For Siemens, this puts improvements in efficiency and consumption that conserves resources at centre stage. After all, almost every product, service and process can be made more efficient. The magazine shows how Siemens’ researchers are developing increasingly efficient systems for wind. For example, in New Zealand, an on-shore wind farm is producing green electricity that costs the same as the power produced by coal- powered plants.
Researchers are also focusing on the waste heat generated by industrial processes. Until now, this heat has gone mostly unused. To remedy the situation, the scientists are, for instance, developing a process that harvests the heat energy from factory exhaust gases. The magazine also features a new electrolysis system that is able to store excess energy produced by wind farms. Also from Siemens laboratories comes a new, particularly efficient process that could make it possible for algae to bind the carbon dioxide in power plant emissions.
New technologies are entering many areas of our life and making our everyday tasks easier. However, the world is becoming more and more complex. It is also becoming harder to under- stand how systems influence one another and how they can be controlled most effectively. Pictures of the Future reports on how the small German town of Wildpoldsried is using smart-grid technologies to exploit the excess green energy it produces – and is, thus, already experiencing the world of tomorrow.
Stephan Kohler, head of the German Energy Agency, provides insights into the transition to alternative energy. In an interview, he describes how it is possible to make such a complex project manageable.
The magazine also looks at a new software platform that makes it possible to simulate and design whole city districts. The system not only indicates how a planned building construction project might affect traffic flow, the power grid and waste management requirements, but also the likely increased level of air pollution.
The New Global Economy
Production and innovation are increasingly taking place in developing countries and emerging markets. The global structures of value creation are also shifting quickly and dramatically. Pictures of the Future provides an overview of Brazil and Columbia, whose economies are booming as they make the transition from producers of raw materials to manufacturers of high-tech products.
Siemens experts also report on how the company plans its global production network – for example, how it decides where individual product components should be made.