Research Field Energy

From mid-January to early April 2018, 47 research units at six centers (KIT, FZJ, HZB, HZDR, DLR, IPP) involved in the research field of Energy were evaluated. Further research units were assessed as part of the evaluations in the research field Earth and Environment at GFZ and UFZ. A total of 107 international reviewers were active, each of whom spent three to five days evaluating the scientific performance of the centers on site. In addition to the six chairpersons, three cross reviewers, each participating in at least four peer reviews, played a key role in the evaluation of the cross-center programs and the preparation of recommendations for the research field.

The in-depth evaluation of the scientific activities of the Helmholtz Centers showed that the research field of Energy makes essential long-term contributions to the energy field, enabling and facilitating the transformation to a secure, sustainable, economically viable, carbon neutral energy system. The research field of Energy comprises numerous technologies required for the transformation of the energy system and plays a leading international role in shaping key fields of scientific excellence. In addition to this technological expertise, the reviewers applauded the unique cross-technology and interdisciplinary system competence in the research field.

The experts came to the conclusion that the research activities in the programs on Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energies, Energy Storage and socio-economic systems research make a decisive contribution to achieving the CO2 reduction targets set by the Federal Government and thus play a key role in the transition of the German energy system. The research program Nuclear Fusion is the world leader in fusion research due to its quality, breadth and size. In the field of nuclear waste management and reactor safety the research program also achieved exceptional results and is seen as an asset for a national strategy for disposal and decommissioning. By consistently implementing the recommendations from the previous PoF III Evaluation, the research field was able to improve visibly. For example, systems research was significantly strengthened within the cross-program initiative "Energy Systems 2050" and is a strategic pillar for the future development of the research field. The reviewers were particularly impressed by the stellar development of the Helmholtz Institutes in Ulm, Münster, Erlangen-Nuremberg and Freiberg, the leading research infrastructures and platforms for technology development (e.g. EMIL, HEMF, Bioliq, Wendelstein 7-X, ASDEX upgrade) and systems integration (Energy Lab 2.0; Living Lab Energy Campus), some of which are unique worldwide, as well as the programs for promoting young scientists.

The experts strongly encourage the research field to assume a prominent position in the energy research landscape due to its scientific excellence and its comprehensive portfolio and to strengthen the dialogue with society and politics. To this end, it is recommended to develop a "Helmholtz Energy Transition Roadmap" which, within the framework of the PoF IV structure, will sharpen the strategic orientation of the portfolio, strengthen systems research and point out development paths for a sustainable energy system. In addition, it is recommended to strengthen cross-cutting research cooperation with the research fields Aeronautics, Space and Transport as well as Earth and Environment, in order to further develop the topics of electro-mobility, geothermal energy and nuclear disposal in the future. This was complemented by the recommendation to develop a commercialization strategy that could increase the innovation speed for key technologies.

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  • Photo of Tobias Sontheimer
    • Dr. Tobias Sontheimer
    • Chief Research Manager Energy
      Helmholtz Association