news / 2017-01-18

Energy Research Network – Flexible Energy Conversion

Vibration studies at Leibniz Universität Hannover. | Copyright: AG Turbo, University of Hanover

On 24 February 2017, the Flexible Energy Conversion Research Network was founded on the initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. This network encompasses highly efficient and flexible fossil-fuel power plants, solar thermal power plants and CO2 capture and recycling processes. The previous Cooretec research initiative was concluded on 7th November 2016 and will be integrated into the new network.

Test facility at the Plataforma Solar in Almeria, Spain. Researchers are testing and optimising parabolic mirrors. | Copyright: DLR

As a central building block for the energy transition, it is intended that the electricity provision in Germany shall become more climate-compatible. To achieve this the German Federal Government is primarily relying on renewable energies. By 2050, renewable energies will already provide 80% of the power supply in Germany. In conjunction with these, flexible power plant technology will make an important contribution to ensuring a secure power supply. To achieve this, research and development work is necessary that should also take into account innovative CO2 technologies for cross-sector applications. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy will therefore continue to promote research projects in this sector in the future. The “Research for an environmentally-friendly, reliable and affordable energy supply” funding announcement, which was issued by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy on 8th December 2014, sets out the research priorities (items 3.4 and 3.6).


The changed tasks in the future electricity grid mean that conventional power plants face a number of new technological and economic challenges: in partial and minimum-load operation they need to work in a resource-efficient and cost-efficient manner, start-up and shut-down procedures need to be faster than the previous generation of generators and they must be capable of working with different fuels. Examples here include biogenic residues and waste materials. Suitable storage solutions are another key aspect. This technological development of components and processes is also becoming increasingly important for exports, thus contributing to international climate protection.