Energy Perspectives for Germany and Europe: A Researcher's View - December 2014

Joachim Knebel

Presentation Abstract

Implementing the energy turnaround or ‘Energiewende’ - adopted by the federal government – has been a major transformation of the German energy system over the past two decades. It has also brought into sharp focus the challenges and the tensions that now continue to occupy researchers, politicians, businesses, and society facing the challenge of the century.

By 2050, Germany’s primary energy consumption is to be half of what it was in 2008. Renewable energies are to reach a share of at least 60 per cent of the country’s gross energy consumption and they are to cover 80 per cent of electricity consumption. Greenhouse gas emissions are to decrease by 80 per cent from 1990 levels. If Germany is to realise these goals, it has to restructure its energy system for the long term in a fundamental way. This requires new technologies for using primary energies and for converting, storing, and distributing them.

In line with the German Energy Research Programme, entitled ‘Research for an environmentally sound, reliable, and affordable energy supply’, and with the ‘New Hightech-Strategy – Innovations for Germany’, KIT performs national provident research in the six fields: (1) Energy Efficiency, Materials and Resources - for restructuring energy supplies; (2) Renewable Energies - for future-oriented energy supplies; (3) Storage Systems and Cross-linked Infrastructures - for the renewable energy age; (4) Technology, Innovation and Society - transformation processes and analyses of the energy system; (5) Nuclear Waste Management and Safety; and (6) Nuclear Fusion - as a long-term option.

Joachim Knebel will highlight the challenges and the promise of the German Energiewende both in a national and a European context and provide some successful examples and, in particular, how coordinated research results help to realise a new energy supply system, especially the integration of the fluctuating renewable energies. Finally, requirements and next steps are formulated which take into account the complex system context and the political and societal issues involved.

Speaker Biography

Joachim Knebel is the Head of Division (BL3) at KIT. He is responsible for the two KIT Faculties Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering with a total of 37 institutes, and the three Research Programs ‘Storage and Cross-linked Infrastructures’, ‘Fusion Research’ and ‘Nuclear Waste Disposal and Safety’.

Within the German Helmholtz Association of National Research Centres, he is Spokesperson for the Nuclear Waste Disposal and Safety Program and for the Cross-Program Activity on Electromobility. Joachim Knebel has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, he holds a Prof. h.c. from Saint Petersburg State University (SPbSU) and has authored or co-authored 160+ scientific publications and has given over 110 invited lectures at conferences, public hearings, press events, and specialist meetings world-wide.

In 2011, Joachim Knebel was awarded the European Science Culture Award of the European Foundation for Culture PRO EUROPA for merits in Partitioning & Transmutation Research.


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