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Germany needs a national energy initiative, government told

Germany should establish a national technology research initiative to bring together various energy programmes and projects, according to an expert group report.

The German government’s research and innovation expert group the EFI has advised that the “brightest heads” in energy research need to be brought together around one table.

“This is about bundling existing activities and new plans,” said research minister Johanna Wanka at a press conference to launch the report on 4 March. “Existing knowledge should be available for everyone, so that new challenges aren’t just recognised—we would also react to them more quickly.”

The EFI said that energy research funding in Germany was fragmented and inadequate for bringing about large-scale change. There are “clear deficits” in funding efficiency and a lack of incentives to develop new technologies, but the proposed initiative would help create clear goals and strategies for research institutions, businesses and policymakers to act, the group said.

The initiative has three pillars. The first, Energy Systems of the Future would develop energy scenarios to find out which technologies are most promising. A set of research priorities would then be established.

The second pillar, Research Forum Energy Change, would bring together policymakers and industry to work out which political strategies are best to bring about an increase in the use of alternative, renewable energy sources.

The final pillar should be a coordination team to bring together the heads of funders and higher education institutions to set research strategy, the EFI recommended.

“Such close cooperation would be unique,” said Reinhard Hüttl, the president of technology academy Acatech, which was consulted on the proposal. “We will bring together our expertise to develop options for safe, cheap and environmentally friendly energy supplies.”