International research cooperation is playing an increasingly prominent role. Germany is closely involved in international energy research. The research cooperation engaged in by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is based on three pillars:

  • energy research in the EU,
  • energy research in the International Energy Agency and
  • multilateral energy research initiatives.

Energy research in the EU

The EU has adopted the SET Plan (Strategic Energy Technology Plan), a European energy strategy in the field of research, development and demonstration. On the basis of a holistic approach, an "integrated roadmap" stipulates the priorities for research, development and innovation in the field of energy. In terms of implementation of the SET Plan, the business sector plays a leading role in the industrial initiatives on various technological issues.

The EU funds research, development and innovation on the basis of multiannual framework programmes based on Articles 179 to 190 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU, Lisbon, 2009). The goal is to strengthen the scientific and technological foundations of the industry, to foster the development of its international competitiveness, and to expand the European Research Area (ERA).

The Horizon 2020 European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation has been underway since the beginning of 2014. Nearly 80 billion EUR have been made available for this. Under the heading of "Societal Challenges" in the area of "secure, clean and efficient energy", funding of 5.9 billion EUR is allocated to research and innovation work in the field of non-nuclear energy. Applications for funding can be submitted in response to annual calls issued by the European Commission. The Energy Programme Committee, in which the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy represents the Federal Government, supports the European Commission as it drafts and implements the calls. Interested parties can contact the National Contact Point for Energy, which offers free-of-charge advice and services to all German companies, higher education institutions and research establishments on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

In order to attain synergies between national and European funding policies, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy works in the Horizon 2020 context on European technology platforms like "Hydrogen and Fuel Cells", "Zero Emission Fossil Fuel Power Plants ZEP" and "Electricity Networks of the Future", and is also involved in "ERA-NETs" (e. g. "Solar-ERA.Net", "Geothermal ERA").

Energy research in the International Energy Agency

The International Energy Agency (IEA) offers its 29 member states a broad forum for the coordination of key energy issues. It also provides a platform for international research cooperation, known as "Implementing Agreements". The priorities are renewable energies, fossil fuels, energy efficiency and nuclear fusion. Germany is currently involved in 26 Implementing Agreements. All of the projects and activities in the field of energy research are coordinated by the Committee on Energy Research and Technology (CERT), in which the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy represents the Federal Government.

Multilateral energy research initiatives

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is also involved in multilateral initiatives for energy research, e. g. in the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF) and the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE).