Germany is an industrialised country. And industry really matters here, because even though the service sector is becoming more and more important, our economy is still very technology-heavy. We therefore need technology to be accepted within society. And we need energy. Because electricity is needed not only for the automobile manufacturers’ sheet metal presses, but also for the engines in electric vehicles, the DESY particle accelerators, the Internet of Things and all the other forward-looking technologies.
Transparency is especially important if something isn’t visible
Germany’s BVEG association represents companies from the natural gas, crude oil and geothermal energy industries, with these companies ranging from local utilities to global players. Take natural gas mining, for example. It is a little-known fact that more than seven billion cubic metres of natural gas are mined in Germany every year – this equates to approximately seven per cent of our needs. Natural gas generally burns more cleanly than other fossil fuels and, together with renewable energies, it can therefore play an important part in the achievement of climate protection goals. Then there is the fact that the short supply routes in Germany naturally keep the transport costs and emissions down. And we in Germany have very high technical and scientific standards regarding research, exploitation, production and supplies in order to comply with the stringent environmental requirements.
Acceptance through transparency
However, we have to live up to these high standards again and again. It goes without saying that there are regulatory specifications and requirements, for example regarding safety systems. But our understanding of responsibility also includes our always improving. For example, back in 2007, we installed an earthquake monitoring system in northern Germany that oversees gas extraction in the Elbe-Weser region. Its primary purpose is to monitor, localise and identify the small and minute tremors that can occur during gas extraction. This is because the pressure levels within the layers of rock can be affected by this extraction, causing tensions to build up which are then suddenly released. We then expanded and improved this system in 2012 together with DMT as the engineering service provider. And DMT then also convinced us to not only use the readings internally or in cooperation with the authorities, but to also make them available to the public. The result was a system which was not only significantly more advanced, but that above all offered 100 per cent transparency. This is the only way to engage in proper risk management – not being upfront with news is no good these days. See for yourself: the citizens’ information system at www.seis-info.de is not only interesting, it is informative too. Did you know, for example, that approximately 8,000 earthquakes are registered around the world every day without your even noticing them?
Minor tremors occur from time to time not only around the world, but in northern Germany too. How do we know? For example, thanks to the Safeguard system, which DMT used to set up 43 highly sensitive measuring stations over an area of almost 10,000 square kilometres for us that record every single tremor – including those well below the perceptibility threshold. The system then provides real-time online data on a tremor source, its magnitude and the ground vibration speed at the earth’s surface. And it does so around the clock, fully automatically and with text message and email notifications included. Authorities are directly linked to the system and can access the data at any time. The measuring stations are largely independent, both in terms of their electricity supply and data transmission via mobile telecommunications, thereby reducing maintenance costs. This concept impressed us right from the start. In addition, our experience of working with DMT in the areas of installation and operations was good – they work professionally and with a customer focus, and treat their customers as equals, because the People who work there have a lot of practical experience and applied expert knowledge.
Ludwig Möhring, managing director of the BVEG, adds: ‘For us as an association, it’s obviously very important that a system like this is run transparently and professionally. As a subsidiary of TÜV NORD, DMT is a recognised independent and expert service provider in this field. And they cover all the bases: concept development, installation, operations, data processing, analysis and communication. Which means Engineering Performance pays off for us too.’