Steelworks; Source: Fotolia.com/niteenrk

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Present situation in energy terms

The sectors of industry, commerce, trade and services are responsible for around 44% of the final energy consumed in Germany. Roughly two-thirds of this final energy is needed in the form of heat. Mechanical energy, e.g. to operate motors or machinery, accounts for around a quarter of the consumption; space heat only contributes a small share. The main form of energy for industry is gas, with a share of over 27%, ahead of electricity at 21% and oil at 20%. Renewable energy only plays a minor role, at around 3%.

In order to achieve a lasting reduction in Germany’s primary energy consumption, it is also necessary to identify potential savings in industry and commerce, to measure them and to develop energy-efficient technologies. Energy efficiency and a more intensive use of renewables are playing a key role in the energy transition in the industrial sector.

Strategically important funding areas

In many areas, almost all the potential has been exploited to optimise the energy performance of individual pieces of machinery and individual processes. For this reason, the focus of research funding is now shifting to entire process chains in the manufacturing sector and to the interplay in energy terms from the raw material to the finished product. The funding measures are concentrated on four main issues:

  • Reduction in the use of energy in operations by developing and using new processes and materials in energy-intensive sectors of industry.
  • Optimisation of existing processes by adapting process parameters, substituting materials, using new or improved components, and by reorganisation.
  • Efficient use of electricity on the consumption side, but also in decentralised generation.
  • Horizontal aspects of the efficient use of electricity and waste heat, and overarching energy management.

The current funding concept explains the available funding instruments in greater detail. The funding for individual projects, joint projects and thematic collaboration remains available, and is supplemented by the new instrument of the “field of research”: a field of research packages the funding activities across several years and aims to provide a coordinated and efficient approach to strategic key enabling technologies. The following seven fields of research currently included in the Industry and Commerce Research Network of the Economic Affairs Ministry are chemical process technology, high-temperature superconductivity, tribology, manufacturing technology, waste heat use, gas-driven and industrial motors, and iron and steel.

  • Chemical process technology
  • High-temperature superconductivity
  • Tribology
  • Manufacturing technology
  • Waste heat use
  • Gas-driven and industrial motors
  • Iron and steel