In the fall of 2018, the German government announced it would provide about EUR 6.4 billion between 2018 and 2022 under its 7th Energy Research Program. This is around 45 percent more than what it allocated to the prior program from 2013 through 2017. The new budget reportedly includes funds for living laboratories and projects involving fuel cells, energy storage, hydrogen technologies and energy systems integration.
The seventh program of its kind was passed by the German parliament last September, and the related funding announcement was published in the federal gazette on Oct. 18 the same year. Documents that outline relevant projects can be submitted to Projektträger Jülich.
It may look like a great start to a new era, with the economy, education and agriculture ministries pouring vast amounts of funding into energy research. But that image is a mirage. The mood in the energy sector is far from euphoric. Uncertainty has pervaded the industry: Companies have no idea whether to invest – and where. And the government seems to lack direction, since it still has no clear objective, which also means it has yet to draft a road map to the transformation of the market.
One question that still needs to be answered is who in the coalition is actually in charge of energy policy. If you go by department name, the economy and energy ministry should be taking over the reins. But as most energy efficiency measures will probably not be very conducive to growth, it is merely limping along. If decisions were made by the environment ministry instead, things would most likely be different: Environment minister Svenja Schulze took a much assertive approach than her colleague in the economy department, Peter Altmaier, when discussing EU limits on carbon dioxide emissions from new vehicles or debating policy at the climate summit in Katowice, Poland. This shouldn’t be a surprise, considering the economy minister needs to take the interests of German businesses into account and cannot be seen as the one who cost people their jobs.
read more in H2-international April 2019