International Energy Transition: Australian–German Energy Research Cooperation
The energy transition has started in Germany, but in other regions of the world that are rich in solar and wind power the conditions for a societal transformation of this scope are as least as promising. Australia has both sun and wind in abundance. Germany and Australia are engaging in increasingly close cooperation to accelerate the international transition towards climate-neutral energy sources. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is therefore funding projects and initiatives that address the energy policy challenges ahead in both countries.
Australia and Germany are faced with great challenges in energy policy. While Germany is pressing ahead with close to complete carbon neutrality based on renewable energy sources in all sectors, Australia is implementing a large-scale national strategy of hydrogen production, with a large share intended for export. The respective potentials of both countries go together well: Germany with its strong manufacturing industry and an energy transition that reaches deeply into many areas of life on the one hand, and Australia with its wealth of energy and resources on the other. This makes Germany and Australia natural partners for advancing the global energy transition. For this reason, BMBF supports institutional cooperation and a bilateral collaboration of stakeholders from science, industry, and society in both countries.
Innovation partnership with "START" focus project
A basis for the bilateral cooperation is provided by the "Energy Transition Hub" – a German–Australian innovation partnership between BMBF and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It brings together leading research institutions from Germany and Australia to address the energy policy challenges ahead for both countries. Since October 2017, six German research institutions in close cooperation with Australian partners have been analysing the transition towards zero-emissions energy systems in Germany and Australia in the "START" focus project, particularly focusing on the challenges shared between the two countries and possible technological and political opportunities. The aim is both to consolidate the cooperation between Australian and German institutions in energy system transformation research, and to produce a comprehensive analysis of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. The project will last until April 2020 and is receiving € 2.1 million in funding from BMBF.
Transformation of energy systems in the G20 states
Cooperation with Australian partners is about to be expanded at another level as well. For example, a BMBF project concerning the fundamentals of energy research from an international perspective is investigating the transformation pathways of energy systems in selected G20 countries. The method of contrasting different research approaches and examples of best practice is being used to show opportunities and options for action for Germany in an international context. The core of the project is built on "fact-finding missions": visits by delegations of scientists, presidents of leading scientific institutions, and representatives of German companies, NGOs, and the media. The first delegation visit was to the USA in April 2017, the second to Asia in early 2018, and the third lead to Australia at the end of 2019. The project is managed by the German National Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech) in cooperation with the Federation of German Industries (BDI) and has run until March 2020. It has been funded by around € 1 million by BMBF.
German–Australian working group on energy and raw materials.
BMBF has placed the necessary emphasis on aspects of science and society with the German-Australian working group on energy and raw materials, which was founded in 2017. The working group, in which BMBF works closely with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and the Australian government departments responsible for environment and energy, aims to promote and advance the exchange of long-term energy strategies in both countries.