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Research Field Energy

Results and recommendations of strategic evaluation

A carbon-neutral energy supply that is economically and socially sustainable – that is the mission of the Research Field Energy. The scientists are working together to make far-reaching changes to the energy system by researching and developing innovative conversion, distribution, and storage technologies and devising solutions for a cross-sectoral energy system. The research field serves as a scientific architect and developer of key technologies for the energy transition by creating holistic concepts that incorporate all relevant energy conversion chains on a systematic basis and include future-ready technological options.

"Much of the scientific work helmholtz carries out in the research field energy is very, very strong, and some is absolutely world-class."

Steven Chu, Stanford University. Member of the expert panel.

Programs in the 2021–2027 funding period

• Energy System Design

• Materials and Technologies for the Energy Transition

• Fusion

• Nuclear Waste Management, Safety, and Radiation Research

Participating centers

• German Aerospace Center (DLR)

• Forschungszentrum Jülich

• Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB)

• Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR)

• Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

Associate scientific center

• Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics ( IPP)


Holger Hanselka • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)


The expert panel was highly impressed by the reorganized strategy and structure Helmholtz has designed for its research. In their view, the new structure is ideally suited to addressing the most pressing challenges in the area of energy research and technological development and therefore makes a substantial contribution to achieving the goal of a carbon-neutral society by 2050.

They confirmed that the new Energy System Design program will play a key role in the research field and could serve as a cornerstone of Germany’s strategy for implementing the energy transition.

According to the experts’ evaluation, the Materials and Technologies for the Energy Transition program clearly focuses on the major technological challenges arising from the transformation to a sustainable energy system that is based on renewable energy and integrates innovative storage technologies. It is thus in line with Germany’s strategy for the coming decades. The experts also noted that the program uses a coherent approach to addressing urgently needed technological developments by exploiting synergies across disciplines, technologies, and research teams that are embedded in a national and international research network.

The evaluation found that the Fusion research program tackles major challenges that complicate efforts to make fusion a primary energy source. This program is one of the most comprehensive projects in the world, according to the expert report, and delivers outstanding results that are at the very forefront of scientific and technological development in this field.

The experts concluded that the Nuclear Waste Management, Safety, and Radiation Research program provides an excellent scientific basis for the safe disposal of radioactive waste as well as expertise in the field of reactor safety. Robust involvement on the part of the government, maintaining the program’s world-class scientific infrastructure, strategic planning, and recruiting top talent are viewed as the key factors that will determine the success of this program, even after nuclear energy has been phased out in Germany.

Strategic Recommendations

  • A Helmholtz energy transition road map should be used as a central strategy instrument in order to develop the research fi eld in a dynamic way.
  • A progressive, forward-looking culture of innovation should be established to further enhance the transfer of technology.

Egbert Jolie

Chief Research Manager Energy
Helmholtz Association

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