This programme investigates and further develops innovative technologies that complement an energy system based on the consumption of renewables, with the aim of incorporating as yet untapped potential from the worlds of science and technology and creating an integrated understanding of processes. The Helmholtz Association enables the operation of unique and extensive research infrastructures that are used as part of the programme to achieve breakthroughs in the development of energy technologies. Examples include the BESSY II synchrotron, the solar tower in Jülich, the bioliq pilot plant and the Gross Schönebeck geothermal research platform. The programme’s portfolio was expanded to include the two newly developed programme topics – Wind Energy and Solar Fuels – and now encompasses a total of six topics featuring systemic aspects and multi-scale approaches.
The programme topic Solar Cells of the Next Generation promotes the development of new materials, processes and component parts for photovoltaic systems along the entire scientific value-added chain – from the groundwork through to the finished solar module. Scientists working on the topic Concentrating Solar Thermal Technology investigate new heat carriers with a view to improving the efficiency and flexibility of solar thermal power plants. The area of Bioenergy focuses on suitable processes for converting sustainable biomass into energy carriers and platform chemicals, while the work carried out in the Geothermal Energy Systems programme topic promotes the development of environmental protection technologies for the development and utilisation of shallower and deeper geothermal reservoirs. The aim of the Wind Energy topic is to further improve the performance of wind turbines by simultaneously reducing their cost and environmental impact such as the level of noise emissions. Finally, the programme topic Solar Fuels investigates the direct production of fuels (e.g. hydrogen) from readily available resources (e.g. water) using sunlight in innovative photoelectrochemical cells as well as in biocatalytic and solar thermal reactors.