Joint Ministry Support Programme for Research into Modern Electricity Grids with National and International Focus

The Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) and the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) launched a new support programme worth EUR 150 million for research on modern, so-called future-proof, electricity grids.

With the Energy Concept of 2010 and certainly with the the parliamentary decision of 2011 to phase out nuclear power (energy policy shift 2011) Germany decided to make renewable energy the cornerstone of its future energy supply. In 2050 renewable energy shall account for 60% of Germany’s gross final consumption of energy and for 80% of the gross electricity consumption (2020: 18 % respectively 35 %).

The share of renewable energy sources in the electricity mix has steadily been growing over the last years, accounting for roughly 21.9% of the gross electricity generation in 2012 according to latest data published by the Federal Association of the Energy and Water Industry (BDEW). The quickly changing energy mix has caused problems for the grids, leading to tense situations in the electricity grids in winter 2011/12. It is therefore vital for a successful implementation of the energy policy shift that the expansion of renewable energies and the grids goes hand in hand, the ministries pointed out.

New demands on the grids, e.g. higher transmission capacity, fluctuating input from renewable power plants and an electricity production located far away from the places of consumption (e.g. offshore wind power), require new technologies and concepts. Hence, support for research into areas like optimised transmission and distribution techniques, smart grids, new concepts for grid planning, grid management and innovate load management shall be granted support under the new programme.

The support programme is part of the 6th Energy Research Support Programme of the German government (6. Energieforschungsprogramms der Bundesregierung) of 2011. The participating ministries will allocate EUR 150 million, thus complementing other support programmes. The conditions for funding have been published in the Federal Law Gazette (Bundesanzeiger) on 17 December 2012. According to the funding conditions (cf. Section 1.1), the support programme for “future-proof electricity grids” aims at improving the cooperation of industry and science as well as facilitating international research cooperation. In a first phase project outlines shall be submitted to the project manager, Projektträger Jülich (PtJ) until 27 March 2013. The initial period of eligibility of projects chosen to be granted support comprises three years for projects by groups of junior researchers.

Source: Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology

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