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The “Energy System Design” program

Our future energy supply should be carbon neutral, affordable, and socially sustainable. With its “Energy System Design” program, Helmholtz aims to lead the way and make a significant contribution to the transition to a sustainable global energy system.

We are pursuing this goal by taking a holistic approach: In the Helmholtz Research Field Energy, we understand the transformation of the energy system as a complex process that not only involves innovative technologies, but also affects numerous societal actors. Our scientists investigate ethical, social, political, economic, technological, and environmental aspects involved in this transition and use these as the basis for concrete recommendations on how the entire system can be successfully restructured.

Our goal is to develop an integrated energy system where energy is stored and transported in various forms, intelligent distribution networks control the flow of energy, and consumers become energy producers and can even feed electricity into the network themselves. Our researchers design all the methods and technologies required for this, from smart residential areas and urban districts through to digitally controlled European transmission grids.

By pooling our expertise in this way, we aim to play a role in transforming every area of the energy system by 2050 and beyond. We involve interest groups, political decision-makers, and the general public in this process, for example, by assessing new technologies at the system level and providing access to models, methods, and tools for designing and operating energy systems. We team up with stakeholders from society in real-world laboratories, where we address current issues such as urban development, sustainability, and mobility. Together with partners from the industrial sector, we develop solutions that allow us to rapidly transfer our findings into applications.

The research infrastructure in the participating Helmholtz Centers plays a key role in our work. The “Energy Lab 2.0”, “Living Lab Energy Campus,” and “NESTEC” examine whether new approaches are technically feasible at the system level. They link energy networks and components that can be operated with real hardware under controlled conditions. These are complemented by large-scale software platforms that create models for energy systems, for instance, or simulate various scenarios depending on the weather conditions.


  • Helmholtz researchers in the “Energy System Design” program are aiming to design the integrated energy system of the future.
  • They are pursuing this goal by taking a holistic approach and incorporating ethical, social, political, economic, technological, and environmental aspects in their work.
  • The scientists assess new technologies and provide access to models, methods, and tools that can be used to design and operate the energy system of the future.
  • Interest groups, political decision-makers, and the general public are integrated in the entire transition process.


  • Energy System Transformation
  • Digitalization and system technology

Participating Helmholtz Centers

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ)

Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB)

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)


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Veit Hagenmeyer

Programme spokesperson Energy System Design
Karlsruher Institut für Technologie

Christine Stürzer

Program Manager Energy System Design
Karlsruher Institut für Technologie

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