Energy System 2050 – A Contribution of the Research Field Energy

“Energy System 2050” is a joint initiative of the research field energy of the Helmholtz Association. Running until 2019, it is aiming at improving the concrete understanding of energy systems and at developing technological solutions for use by politics and industry.

Systemic Solutions for the Energiewende

The German Energiewende is an ambitious societal project extending far into the future. In order to allow adaptation to changing influences and boundary conditions at any time, the transformation of the energy system by 2050 must stay flexible. This requires a systemic and comprehensive view which includes all properties of the energy system, such as structure and components, stability and controllability, reliability, safety, economic viability, environmental compatibility, legislation, and social and ethical aspects. “Energy System 2050,” the joint initiative of the research field energy of the Helmholtz Association, makes use of interdisciplinary know-how from engineering and natural sciences, but also from economics and social sciences, to improve the concrete understanding of energy systems by 2019 and to develop technological solutions to be taken up by politics and industry.

One Systemic Approach – Five Research Topics

The “Energy System 2050” initiative explores the integration of technological key elements into the energy system and elaborates solutions to integrate the partially fluctuating renewable energies successfully into German and European energy systems. Its five selected research topics address fundamental challenges of the Energiewende:

  1. Storage and Grids
  2. Bioenergy
  3. Hydrogen-based Energy and Resource Pathways
  4. Life-Cycle-Oriented Sustainability Analysis at System Level
  5. Toolbox and Data Models

The general framework of these research topics is based on the results of the evaluation for the third period of programme-oriented funding (PoF III) of the Helmholtz Association and on ideas of the “Energiewende Research Forum”, a dialogue platform involving players from science, politics, industry, and civil society. Besides contributing to the Energiewende, the “Energy System 2050” initiative provides important strategic impulses to the medium and long term development of the research field energy of the Helmholtz Association beyond 2019, and to the thematic design of the fourth period of programme-oriented funding (PoF IV), starting 2020.

Networking of Technologies, Disciplines, and Centres

The systemic approach of the “Energy System 2050” initiative builds on the current research programmes of the research field energy of the Helmholtz Association: Energy Efficiency, Materials and Resources (EMR), Renewable Energies (RE), Storage and Cross-Linked Infrastructures (SCI), Future Information Technology (FIT), Technology, Innovation and Society (TIS), as well as Nuclear Fusion (FUSION), which examines a long-term option of a new energy resource with baseload capability, and Nuclear Waste Management, Safety, and Radiation Research (NUSAFE), which is relevant mainly for developments outside of Germany. In addition, it links to other Helmholtz activities, such as the Helmholtz Energy Alliance “Technologies for the Future Power Grid” and the Helmholtz Alliance ENERGY TRANS. The initiative is supported by an independent expert panel. Moreover, the scientists of the initiative are assisted by a group of experts in energy economy, which ensures that economic aspects are included.

The “Energy System 2050” initiative connects the eight Helmholtz Centres participating in the research field energy: German Aerospace Center (DLR), Jülich Research Center (FZJ), Potsdam Helmholtz Center (GFZ), Berlin Helmholtz Center (HZB), Dresden-Rossendorf Helmholtz Center (HZDR), Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP – associated), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), and Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ). In this way, the “Energy System 2050” initiative combines unique research infrastructures and research activities of excellent quality and high strategic relevance to the Energiewende.

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