News – What`s happening in energy research

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The cover image of the 6th Energy Research Programme shows a solar tower power plant developed in Germany.
German Federal Cabinet adopts 6th Energy Research Programme

A billion euro plan for new energy technologies

Four federal ministries have jointly determined how they want to promote research in the next few years that contributes to “an environmentally sound, reliable and affordable energy supply”. The 6th Energy Research Programme, which was adopted in 2011 in Berlin, replaces its predecessor from 2005. The plan intends to increase the German government’s annual funding budget to one billion euros by 2014.

The 6th Energy Research Programme is a joint programme of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi), the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV) and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). It was produced under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. Dr Knut Kübler is head of the Energy Research Department at the BMWi. “The German government’s Energy Concept from autumn 2010 and the energy measures made in June 2011 have given us precise objectives,” says Kübler. “The funding strategically focuses on those priority areas that are relevant for the accelerated transformation of Germany’s energy supply: renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, energy storage systems and grid technologies.”  

The challenge of the new energy era

In reference to the current discussion, the Energy Research Programme states in its executive summary that “this transition to renewable energy requires political and social change at the deepest levels, with industry and science playing a leading role. Without scientific expertise, a new energy era is simply inconceivable.” In addition to institutional research, project-oriented research in particular is intended to promote the commercial maturity and marketability of the new technologies. The projects funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) follow – for example with the non-nuclear technologies – the entire energy chain. The focuses here are on energy-optimised construction, energy-efficient cities, energy efficiency in industry and commerce, energy storage systems and grids including key electricity sector elements relating to electromobility, power plant technologies and CO2 separation as well as fuel cells/hydrogen and system analysis.

Efficiency and renewables as solutions

The 6th Energy Research Programme provides a detailed breakdown of the German government’s planned energy research budget in accordance with the departments and technology areas. From 2011 to 2014, the German government is providing around 3.5 billion euros for funding research and developing future-capable energy technologies. Compared to the period from 2006 to 2009, this corresponds to an increase of around 75 per cent. 684 million euros of this additional funding is being mostly financed from the Energy and Climate Fund set up in 2011. This funding shall be exclusively used in research and development projects for “renewable energies” and “energy efficiency”. In 2014, the German government wants to invest almost 80 per cent of its research budget in these two fields that will be important for Germany’s future energy supplies.

Following the Cabinet decision, the new Energy Research Programme came into force in autumn 2011. The Programme can be downloaded or is now available as a brochure in English.



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