ERKC

Energy Research Knowledge Centre

Germany

Research themes and prioritisation

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Energy research in Germany is motivated by the decision of the German government to foster energy efficiency and renewable energy and to phase out nuclear energy by 2022. The German Energy Research Programme supports these targets. For example, recent initiatives focus on energy grids and energy storage for improved management of intermittent electricity production from renewable sources (Table 1).

Organisation of research

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Energy research funding in Germany is based both on institutional funding of national research centres performing long-term fundamental research, and on project-oriented funding of individual research topics generally in cooperation between universities and industry.


Figure 1: Organisational structure of energy research in Federal ministries in Germany

Institutional and project-oriented national funding of energy research involves several ministries. The Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) is responsible for the programmatic orientation of the energy research policy set out in the 6th Energy Research Programme of the German Government 2011. The BMWi is responsible for project funding in energy efficiency, nuclear safety and waste management, and institutional funding of the DLR research centre of the Helmholtz Association.  The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) is responsible for project funding of R&D in renewable energies, and the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV) supports R&D in bioenergy. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) provides the institutional funding for the research centres of the Helmholtz Association with the exception of DLR and also project-oriented funding of basic research in energy efficiency, renewable energies, nuclear fusion and nuclear safety.

The activities of the 6th Energy Research Programme are supplemented by measures of research institutions like the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) as a nationwide organisation also support basic research oriented projects in universities and other research organisations. The activities of the Federal Government will be completed by ambitious energy research programmes and project funding of the Federal states and private institutions.

Programmes and budgets

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In 2011 the German government launched the framework 6th Energy Research Programme. This programme, entitled 'Research for environmentally sound, reliable and affordable energy research', sets out the guiding principles and priorities of the government’s support policy in innovative energy technologies for the coming years.

Budget overview

The German government’s budget for energy research is approximately €3.5 billion for the period 2011–2014. The increase in funding of around 75 % compared to 2006–2009 will also be financed by the newly established Energy and Climate Fund which is fed by the revenues from the trading of CO2 emission certificates and which provides financial support for investment in energy efficiency measures as well as other subsidies.

Table 1: The main activities of the German Energy Research Programme of the Federal Government 6th Energy Research Programme

BMWi – Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie
BMU – Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit
BMBF – Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung
BMELV – Bundesministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz
BMVBS – Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Bau und Stadtentwicklung
1 Planned data for 2013
2 Including Basic Research supported by BMBF
3 Part of the budget for Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency (1.) and Renewable Energies (2.)
4 Part of the budget for Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency (1.) and Renewable Energies (2.) Total budget: €1400 M with 50 % co-funding from industry.

Programmes and initiatives

Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency

Energieeinsparung und Energieeffizienz

In the Energy Savings and Energy Efficiency priority area of the 6th Energy Research Programme the BMWi is funding projects which:

  • Tap the potential for saving energy in all areas of the economy and in private households;
  • Involve research on innovative storage technologies and future power grids;
  • Investigate the development of technologies to boost efficiency during energy conversion.

The initiatives within this programme cover energy-optimised building, energy-efficient cities, energy efficiency in industry, energy saving and storage technologies, efficient power grids, power plant technology and CCS technology, fuel cells and hydrogen, and system analysis.

Renewables

Erneuerbare Energien

Renewable Energies is a programme of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). Project Management Jülich coordinates substantial amounts of research funding for renewable energies on behalf of the BMU, with research priorities in photovoltaics, wind, geothermal energy, thermal solar energy, solar thermal power plants, and hydro-power and ocean energy. This programme also focuses on projects that foster the transition to a renewable energy system.

Initiatives on bioenergy are under the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV) with programmes on liquid, gaseous and solid biofuels.  The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has launched initiatives such as BioEnergy 2012 and BioProFi as a part of its basic energy research concept (see below). These basic research projects focus on the development of new transformation processes for energy crops and biogenic waste as well as on the optimization of energy crop cultivation. Key areas for energy research (co-)funded by BMELV are smart solutions for the combined use of bioenergy and other renewable sources as well as increasing the efficiency of decentralised bioenergy production solutions.

Basic Energy Research

Grundlagenforschung Energie

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding basic research in all fields of the 6th energy research programme. Current projects within the BMBF concept "Basic Energy Research 2020+" focus on photovoltaics, bioenergy, wind energy and energy efficiency. From 2004 to 2012 BMBF provided funding for the networks “basic research renewable energies and rational use of energy” (NGEE). In 18 networks more than 100 projects run in fields of material research, micro biology, fluid mechanics, mathematical modeling and other topics related to areas such as fuel cells, energy storage, photovoltaics, renewable gases and wind power.

Nuclear Safety, Final Disposal of Radioactive Waste

Entsorgungsforschung

The Federal Government's research in the area of nuclear safety and final disposal focuses on maintaining and expanding scientific expertise in the relevant fields.

Energy Storage joint initiative

Förderinitiative Energiespeicher

Energy Storage is an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi), the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Its aim is to aid the development of high-performance, efficient and cost-effective storage systems. It covers the storage of electricity, heat and material storage in such a way that these energy sources can complement and even replace each other. The initiative started in 2011 with a total budget of €200 million.

Future-proof Power Grids joint initiative

Förderinitiative Zukunftsfähige Stromnetze

Future-proof Power Grids is an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi), the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). A call for projects was announced in January 2013 within the framework of the 6th Energy research programme. The total budget is up to €150 million.

National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Innovation Programme (NIP)

Nationales Innovationsprogramm Wasserstoff- und Brennstoffzellentechnologie (NIP)

The National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Innovation Programme (NIP) was jointly launched by several ministries (BMVBS, BMWi, BMBF, BMU) and is scheduled to run for 10 years. The funding priorities are transport, hydrogen infrastructure, stationary energy supply and the use of fuel cells in a wide variety of specialised near-market applications. Government and industry provide project funding of €700 million each to promote cooperation between research institutes and industry in R&D and demonstration projects.

National govermment departments

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Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi)

Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie (BMWi)

Due to its overall responsibility for economic, technology, industrial and energy policies, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) acts as the coordinating agency in setting the programmatic direction of the energy research policy and the Federal Government’s Energy Research Programme. Regarding project funding, the BMWi is involved in applied energy research and demonstration: energy efficiency in the building sector; energy-optimised construction; energy-efficient cities and decentralised energy systems; energy efficiency in industry; energy storage systems for stationary and mobile applications; grids for future electricity supply; fossil power plant engineering and CCS technologies; fuel cells and hydrogen; systems analysis and the dissemination of information; and research on nuclear safety and waste management.

Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU)

Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit (BMU)

The BMU supports applied energy-related research and demonstration projects on renewable energies: wind, photovoltaics, deep geothermal, low-temperature solar power, solar thermal power, hydro and ocean energy, and the integration of renewable energy and alternative energy supply systems.

Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV)

Bundesministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz (BMELV)

The BMELV supports applied research and demonstration in biomass and biofuels from solid, gaseous and liquid sources.

Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)

The BMBF supports basic research in energy efficiency, renewable energies, nuclear fusion, nuclear safety and waste management.

Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS)

Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Bau und Stadtentwicklung (BMVBS)

Research administered by the BMVBS covers mobility and transport, spatial and urban development, building, housing and the development of eastern Germany. The BMVBS is also one of the main players in the National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Innovation Programme (NIP).

Institutional funding in energy research

The Helmholtz Association (HGF)

The research centres of the Helmholtz Association of National Research Centres (HGF), Germany’s largest scientific organisation, are committed to tackling the major questions facing science, industry and society and securing life-sustaining resources in the long term. In this context, the “Energy” research area, one of a total of six research fields, plays a key role.

National research programme management agencies

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The national energy research funding in Germany is managed by dedicated offices on behalf of the respective ministries. Each of the main research themes is allocated to one or more offices. This information is subject to chance as programme management is put out to tender.

Project Management Jülich (PtJ)

Projektträger Jülich – Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH (PtJ)

Project Management Jülich supports the federal government and the federal states as well as the European Commission in implementing their research policy goals. Its focus is on programme management and project funding for energy technologies, including energy efficiency, renewable energies, and basic research.

Project Management Agency for Reactor Safety Research (PT-R)

Gesellschaft für Anlagen- und Reaktorsicherheit mbH GRS – Projektträger Reaktorsicherheitsforschung (PT-R)

The GRS carries out research and analysis in nuclear reactor safety, radioactive waste management, radiation protection and environmental protection. On behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi), the GRS takes a scientific, technical and administrative lead in projects under its remit.

Project Management Karlsruhe (PtKA)

Projektträger Karlsruhe – Karlsruher Institut für Technologie KIT (PtKA)

The PtKA prepares, implements, and supports funding programmes in nuclear waste disposal and radiation safety on behalf of the BMBF, BMWi, the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Environment (UVM) and the Baden-Württemberg State Foundation. On behalf of the BMWi, the PtKA funds R&D projects within the umbrella ‘Future Main R&D Activities Related to the Repository Storage of Radioactive Waste’.

Agency for Renewable Resources (FNR)

Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V. Gülzow (FNR)

The FNR was founded in 1993 as a central coordinating agency for support activities for renewable resources, with responsibility for pooling information on problems, techniques and results. The FNR provides technical and administrative support in planning and implementing various BMELV programmes, and funds R&D of product lines arising from renewable resources (including bioenergy) throughout their life cycles.

National Organisation for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NOW)

Nationale Organisation Wasserstoff- und Brennstoffzellentechnologie GmbH (NOW)

NOW was founded by the government in 2007 with the aim of coordinating and managing research on hydrogen and fuel cells (in cooperation with the PtJ), first of all in the framework of the NIP.

Funding organisations at national level

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There are a number of further organisations at national level that are involved with funding research not only in the area of energy technologies.  This includes the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG), enabling researchers at an early stage of their scientific careers to carry out a clearly defined research project at a place of their choice abroad or to learn new research methods. It supports research in all areas of science through both grants and institutions (DFG Centres).

Energy research is also supported through numerous foundations and associations including initiatives from industry such as the Foundation Industry Research or the Alliance Industry Research AIF. In the case of AIF the „Industrielle Gemeinschaftsforschung (IGF)” (industrial joint research) is a joint initiative of AIF and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi).