Plans and Priorities
In November 2015 at the COP 21 meeting in Paris chancellor Angela Merkel joined Mission Innovation. Within Mission Innovation, 25 members (including the European Union) share the commitment of doubling their investments in research, development and innovation for clean energy technologies. This is a huge step forward for the promotion of clean energy worldwide.
The transformation of our energy systems towards reliable and cost effective clean energy is a fundamental part of an effective, long-term global response to our shared climate challenge. A step-change, global effort is required to accelerate the pace of technological advance and cost reduction for clean energy. Research and development are an indispensable prerequisite to achieve these goals with our knowledge, creativity and inventive spirit being our most important resources. We need to work together with all interested countries and bundle our competencies to make a difference. Therefore, the Federal Government welcomes and supports this important international initiative Mission Innovation.
The Federal Government gained a pioneering role by orienting its energy policy towards an energy system based on high efficiency and renewable energy sources. We were thus able to cut the output of harmful greenhouse gases by about 25% between 1990 and 2012. After the earthquake disaster in Japan in March 2011 and the resulting flooding of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, the Federal Government re-assessed the role of nuclear power and set the cornerstones for an energy turnaround: nuclear phase-out and a focus on higher efficiency and renewable energy sources. This turnaround in energy policy, known as the “Energiewende”, has attracted attention worldwide. Central goals are a 50 per cent reduction of primary energy consumption, the expansion of renewable energies to 60 per cent of gross final energy consumption and reductions of greenhouse gases by 80 – 95 % until 2050. Through almost complete decarbonisation, the energy sector must additionally help ensure that Germany is largely greenhouse-gas neutral by 2050. In 2018, 38 per cent of German electricity came from wind, solar and other renewable sources. In addition energy is used more economically. The energy transition has furthermore opened up important new fields of business. New global markets have arisen in the wake of the expansion of renewable energy sources and efficient use of energy.
Nevertheless, the currently available energy technologies might not be sufficient to eventually realize these ambitious goals while preserving security of supply and a high level of prosperity. The Federal Government therefore resolutely focused its funding for research and development on technologies for the energy transition.
Three Federal Ministries work in close collaboration under one comprehensive energy research programme (7th Energy Research Programme). Thereby, the competencies of the different ministries complement each other to promote and support research for the “Energiewende” along the whole innovation chain.
The Federal Government will further increase its already high efforts for clean energy research and development. It sees expediting technology and innovation transfer as a prerequisite for the efficient, intersectoral implementation of the energy transition and an urgent task for energy research policy. This is why it is introducing “Living Labs for the Energy Transition” as a new programme pillar and will support the innovation process from the development to the commercialisation of technologies in an integral approach. The Federal Government will also make it easier for young enterprises with high innovation transfer ability and innovative power to benefit from the programme.
The 7th Energy Research Programme broadens the research spectrum of clean energy project funding:
- In keeping with the motto, “efficiency first”, project funding in energy transition in the end-use sectors will focus on the efficient use of energy and the reduction of consumption. In addition, the aim will be to step up the integration of renewables, primarily in the buildings sector. Energy-efficient and low-carbon industrial processes and carbon recycling will play a key role in the industrial sector.
- Project funding will also address interfaces with the transport sector by promoting modern energy technologies, such as batteries and fuel cells, the production of biogenic and synthetic fuels and the analysis of the repercussions of new mobility schemes on the energy sector.
- Research funding in power generation will address the entire range of renewable energies, photovoltaics, wind power, bioenergy (with a focus on waste and residual materials), hydropower and marine energy and thermal power plants (e.g. geothermal, solar thermal, innovative use of existing infrastructure).
- Research work on electricity grids, energy storage and sector coupling will be assigned to the thematic cluster of system integration.
- The promotion of intersystemic research topics will comprise energy system analysis, energy-related aspects of digitisation, resource efficiency, CO2 technologies, materials research and societal aspects of the energy transition.
Methodology for determining baseline
The baseline is calculated by averaging the budget for project funding within the 6th Federal Energy Research Programme on renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies for Fiscal years 2012 to 2015. On average 450 Mio. € were spent in respective research areas within this period.
Country definition of clean energy R&D investment
The funds available within the individual ministries are primarily aimed at particularly innovative energy technologies that promise to be successful in the long term and are important for Germany’s transition to a sustainable energy supply. Energy policy will therefore focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage technologies and grid technology, the integration of renewable energy into the energy supply and the ways in which these technologies interact with one another. Clean Energy under this definition does not include nuclear energy.