Helmholtz Association

Research Field Energy

Global bottlenecks are predictable - in the reliable supply of energy and the safe disposal and treatment of wastes, residues and emissions. Helmholtz energy researchers are looking for solutions to meet the needs of present and future generations.

Goals

The Helmholtz scientists involved in the field of energy research are working to develop solutions to secure an economically, ecologically and socially sustainable supply of energy.

ZoomLinear Fresnel reflector with one absorber. Image: DLR/Novatec Solar
Linear Fresnel reflector with one absorber. Image: DLR/Novatec Solar

They are examining all the relevant energy chains, including technological and socioeconomic conditions and impacts on the climate and environment. One important goal is to replace fossil and nuclear fuels with sustainable climate-neutral energy sources. Scientists are also seeking to determine the potential of renewables such as solar, biomass and geothermal energy. They are working to increase the efficiency of conventional power plants and energy use as a whole. Finally, the Helmholtz Association is researching nuclear fusion in order to develop a new source of energy over the long term, and its scientists are experts in the area of nuclear safety research.

Outlook

The energy transition is one of the greatest challenges for the present and the future. In its 6th Energy Research Programme, the German government focuses on strategies and technologies that are vital for restructuring energy supplies: renewables, energy efficiency, energy storage and grid technologies. The Helmholtz Association strongly supports the German government’s strategy and, by providing expertise and experience, is making a major contribution to its implementation. In addition, it is closing research gaps and seeking to achieve more rapid progress in all relevant fields. Helmholtz research engages with a broad spectrum of options and devotes as much attention to basic research as to application-oriented studies. Furthermore, the Helmholtz Association is supplementing technological topics with socioeconomic research in order to optimise energy systems with respect to all social, economic and political factors.

Research Programmes


Renewable Energies

The catalogue of topics is being expanded: Besides topics on generating power from solar and geothermal energy, research projects on biomass and solar fuel generation are being added.

More details about Research Programme Renewable Energies


Efficient Energy Conversion

Various research approaches are being pursued to raise the utilisation ratio of renewables and fossil energy sources: for example, the intelligent coupling of energy availability and usage through power and heat storage systems, mobile energy storage systems, heat transfer systems or synthetic fuels, dovetailing the various demand situations, such as co-generation of heat and power as well as work on thermo-chemical processes for processing non-conventional energy sources such as biomass to form higher-value fuels.

More details about Research Programme Efficient Energy Conversion


Nuclear Fusion

The Helmholtz Association’s Nuclear Fusion Programme is currently pursuing two priority goals: for one, to perform the German contributions towards building and operating the international Tokamak experiment ITER in Cadarache and, for the other, to finalise and operate the stellarator Wendelstein 7-X in Greifswald.

More details about Research Programme Nuclear Fusion


Nuclear Safety Research

The Nuclear Safety Research Programme is divided into three topic areas: Nuclear Reactor Safety, Safety of Nuclear Waste Disposal, and Radiation Protection.

More details about Research Programme Nuclear Safety Research


Technology, Innovation and Society

The goal of this interdisciplinary programme across research fields is the investigation of ecological, economic, political, ethical and social aspects associated with new technologies in order to support decisions in politics, industry and society.

More details about Research Programme Technology, Innovation and Society

The programmes in the funding period 2010-2014

The field of energy research at the Helmholtz Association consists of eight Helmholtz centres: the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the Forschungszentrum Jülich, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, and, finally, the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) as an associate member of the Helmholtz Association.

All the programmes are implemented in interdisciplinary working groups and international collaborations. The association provides research infrastructure, resources for large-scale experiments, pilot facilities, test systems for large components, high-performance analysis systems and high-capacity computers.

The field is divided into five research programmes:

Research Programmes


Renewable Energies
The catalogue of topics is being expanded: Besides topics on generating power from solar and geothermal energy, research projects on biomass and solar fuel generation are being added.

More details about Research Programme Renewable Energies


Efficient Energy Conversion

Various research approaches are being pursued to raise the utilisation ratio of renewables and fossil energy sources: for example, the intelligent coupling of energy availability and usage through power and heat storage systems, mobile energy storage systems, heat transfer systems or synthetic fuels, dovetailing the various demand situations, such as co-generation of heat and power as well as work on thermo-chemical processes for processing non-conventional energy sources such as biomass to form higher-value fuels.

More details about Research Programme Efficient Energy Conversion


Nuclear Fusion

The Helmholtz Association’s Nuclear Fusion Programme is currently pursuing two priority goals: for one, to perform the German contributions towards building and operating the international Tokamak experiment ITER in Cadarache and, for the other, to finalise and operate the stellarator Wendelstein 7-X in Greifswald.

More details about Research Programme Nuclear Fusion


Nuclear Safety Research

The Nuclear Safety Research Programme is divided into three topic areas: Nuclear Reactor Safety, Safety of Nuclear Waste Disposal, and Radiation Protection.

More details about Research Programme Nuclear Safety Research


Technology, Innovation and Society

The goal of this interdisciplinary programme across research fields is the investigation of ecological, economic, political, ethical and social aspects associated with new technologies in order to support decisions in politics, industry and society.

More details about Research Programme Technology, Innovation and Society

Insights into Research Field Energy

Here, we present projects currently being carried out by scientists at the Helmholtz Centres.


A turbo booster for thin-film solar cells

Schmidt Sydney Turbo SolarzellenModern silicon solar cells have a maximum efficiency of about 25 percent and scientists worldwide are competing to find ways of further increasing this efficiency.

weiterlesen "A turbo booster for thin-film solar cells"


Fluoride batteries: A promising concept for the future

Zusammenbau TestzelleLithium-ion batteries are currently the most powerful battery systems on the market, but their storage capacity cannot be increased much further.

weiterlesen "Fluoride batteries: A promising concept for the future"


Electricity from waste heat

Arbeitsgruppe um Raphaël HermannAround 60 percent of the energy that a car engine generates from fuel is lost in the form of heat.

weiterlesen "Electricity from waste heat"


Putting the last piece in place

Wendelstein 7-XInstallation work on the Wendelstein 7-X in Greifswald is in full swing and the apparatus can now be seen in its final form.

weiterlesen "Putting the last piece in place"


Further improvements in solar thermal power

Solarturm JülichFor around 30 years, the DLR has been advancing the development of solar-thermal power plants and testing their feasibility in demonstration plants in Spain.

weiterlesen "Further improvements in solar thermal power"


When containers rust

HandschuhboxenHighly radioactive waste from nuclear reactors has to be isolated from the biosphere for thousands of years, but the steel and other materials used for this purpose cannot guarantee safe containment for such long periods of time.

weiterlesen "When containers rust"


Improving CIS modules with ILGAR

Chalcopyrit-Dünnschicht-SolarzelleThin-film solar modules made from copper compounds require less material and energy in production, but they convert sunlight into electricity less efficiently than crystalline silicon cells.

weiterlesen "Improving CIS modules with ILGAR"

Contact

Prof. Dr. Holger Hanselka

Research Field Coordinator Energy

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

Phone: +49 721 608-22000
holger.hanselka(at)kit.edu
www.kit.edu


Dr. Tobias Sontheimer

Research Field Energy

Helmholtz Head Office

Phone: +49 30 206329-17
tobias.sontheimer (at) helmholtz.de


Publications

Insights into diverse aspects of Helmholtz Energy Research
Energy Research for Tomorrow

17.09.2014