25 April 2017
Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) - Managing energy innovations


Spring 2017

The German government has set itself the objective of ensuring safe, affordable, and clean energy for a sustainable and environmentally friendly economy. It has also outlined ambitious CO2 targets, which are part of Germany’s new Climate Action Plan 2050. Renewable energy and energy efficiency will be the focus of future investment. The main strengths of the German economy lie in mechanical engineering and automotive technology, and also in the chemical industry. With the Climate Action Plan 2050, the federal government has created the necessary conditions for the economy to remain competitive – even in a decarbonizing world.

A major contribution to this process is the transformation of the energy sector – one of the most significant political initiatives for the next three decades. It is, in particular, the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to continuously promote this radical restructuring process with support from science and research, to critically monitor this process, and to supply long-term solutions.

BMBF is funding research projects on renewable energies, energy storage and distribution, materials research for the transformation of the energy sector, energy-efficient cities, load flexibility in the use of renewable energies, and an intelligent approach to CO2. The funding of such research is linked to technological issues with economic and social aspects, and therefore follows a systemic approach. BMBF prioritizes projects that are most crucial to ensuring a secure and clean energy supply in Germany. The Project Management Jülich (PtJ) supports the ministry in the implementation and administration of these projects.

In 2016, BMBF launched the largest research initiative for the energy transition so far: the Kopernikus Projects. The philosophy behind the projects is as follows: research networks that include science, industry, and civil society aim to build a bridge between basic research and large-scale applications. BMBF aims to achieve a targeted concentration of key stakeholders, which is why the projects are designed to run for ten years – an innovative approach in the German government’s conventional research funding practice. €400 million has been earmarked for the Kopernikus Projects.

The projects are focused on four key areas: power grids, energy storage systems, renewable energies in industry, and systems integration. These four critical areas will determine whether the transformation of the energy sector is a success.

The Kopernikus Projects connect the societal, economic, and environmental issues of our time: structuring a new power grid (ENSURE), storing surplus electricity (P2X), synchronizing industrial processes with the renewable energy supply (SynErgie), and navigating through the effects and side effects of economic or policy measures in advance (ENavi). The projects are part of the Research for a Sustainable Development (FONA). The scientific heads are from prestigious institutions, such as the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), RWTH Aachen University, TU Darmstadt, and the Institute for Sustainability Studies (IASS). The funding process of projects is absolutely crucial to implementing research projects with limited time schedules and precisely defined content at companies, research establishments, and universities.

Managing energy innovations

The consortium project Carbon2Chem is another very good example of how all the relevant parties collaborate together on this entire process. Together, they are developing a globally applicable solution to convert waste gases from thyssenkrupp’s steel furnaces into primary products for fuels, plastics, and fertilizers. The hydrogen required for this solution is produced using surplus energy from renewable energy sources. The Carbon2Chem approach is expected to make 20 million tonnes of the German steel industry’s annual CO2 emissions economically exploitable in future. This represents 10 percent of the annual CO2 emissions from German industrial processes and the manufacturing industry. PtJ is supporting the Ministry in the implementation of Carbon2Chem as well.

Projects details of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research
For more information about the Kopernikus Projects, please see: www.kopernikus-projekte.de
A short movie about the project Carbon2Chem can be seen here: https://goo.gl/QWnOOy