Energy Research Networks
The energy research networks represent Germany’s broad research scene in the fields of bioenergy, buildings and neighbourhoods, renewable energy sources, flexible energy conversion, industry and commerce, power grids, start-ups, and systems analysis.
The eight networks were established as dialogue-oriented forums for exchange between research, politics, and industry and are supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). They promote the transfer of energy research findings to practical applications, offer opportunities to participate in energy policy issues, and increase transparency in funding policy. Through joint events, webinars, and opinion polls, the networks offer scope for their members to organize and run proceedings themselves.
As an open forum for experts, the networks create synergies for representatives from industry and science as well as for important disseminators of knowledge relating to Germany’s energy transition. Work is structured flexibly within various working groups and research fields. This fosters the development and strengthening of important relationships between stakeholders, frequently resulting in joint research projects and helping to translate research findings to practical applications even more rapidly.
Promoting exchange through ministerial advisory boards and the Energy Transition Research and Innovation Platform
To strengthen the dialogue between research and practice on the one hand and politics on the other, each network is provided with an advisory board by the relevant government ministry. This advisory board meets with network representatives regularly to provide support and advice. Meetings focus on exchanging information on the various funding areas, furthering dialogue on the framework conditions and obstacles involved in the transfer from theory to practice, and discussing the potential and impacts of new technologies and methods.
The energy research networks provide the underlying specialist knowledge required for the Energy Transition Research and Innovation Platform. Supported by all federal departments involved in energy research at national and state level, this platform acts as an advisory body and brings together important stakeholders from various associations, selected companies, research institutions, and politics. Plenary sessions are convened regularly to discuss and evaluate current developments and strategies within energy research. During these sessions, the energy research networks present relevant findings from their activities, while ideas put forward by the platform are taken into account in their future work. This ensures that the networks’ expert knowledge is pooled and coordinated.
Providing impetus for funding strategies in energy research
The energy research networks play an important role in supporting the energy transition in Germany by providing impetus for funding strategies. As well as identifying trends, they provided important input for preparations for the Federal Government’s 7th Energy Research Programme by offering expert recommendations during the consultation process. The goals of the energy research networks, which now number eight, are to enable the wide-ranging research activities across Germany to be networked and utilized more effectively, to reconcile the different interests of all stakeholders involved, and to promote cooperation and social dialogue.
Cultivating exchange between experts with complementary know-how in operational, strategic, technical, and methodological issues is a key step on the pathway to transforming the German energy sector. Although each network has its own specific research focus, it is important to strengthen dialogue both within the individual networks and across the group as a whole in order to tackle topics such as digitization, energy storage, and sector coupling.
The energy research networks are an initiative of the Federal Government’s National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (NAPE).